Pianko Law Group

Top Five Construction Injuries in New York

Top 5 Construction Injuries In New York
Pianko Law Group 
December 2, 2021

When the Empire State Building was completed in 1930, it was basically a combination of One Trade Center and the Dubai Tower. It wasn’t just the tallest and most iconic structure in the Big Apple. It had worldwide fame. Officials reported five worker deaths during its construction. The rumored total is that one worker died for each of the 102 floors in the ESB.

The safety aspects of construction work are much different today than they were a hundred years ago. However, the economic aspects are largely unchanged. The industry is very competitive. A few dollars here and there are usually the difference between profit and bankruptcy. Workers safety is often one of the first items on the chopping block. Many resulting injuries are listed below.

Legally, these injuries are quite complex in New York, mostly because of the controversial Scaffolding Law. Labor Law § 240/241 holds property owners and/or construction companies strictly liable for gravity-related falls. The state workers’ compensation law applies to other construction injuries. Negligence laws apply to others.

Victims need a capable New York personal injury attorney to work through this morass of laws. An attorney evaluates an injury case and quickly determines the proper course of action. Going down the wrong path could delay your settlement, at best. At worst, a procedural error could torpedo your injury claim.


A combination of falls from a height and slip-and-fall injuries cause more fatal workplace injuries than any other trauma injury or occupational disease. A fall from as little as four stories above ground is normally fatal. A fall from a lesser height usually causes a serious injury. Slip-and-fall injuries are especially bad for people with certain pre-existing conditions.

The Scaffolding Law complicates these claims. Pretty much any fall is a gravity-induced fall. However, compensation is usually higher in Scaffolding Law claims than in workers’ compensation claims. Therefore, insurance companies usually fight these matters tooth and nail.

Struck By

Speaking of the Empire State Building, there is an old story that a penny dropped from the observation deck would kill a pedestrian on 34th Street. That story is false, but not because the scientific principle is incorrect. Pennies are extremely lightweight. And, as they fall, they flutter. If someone dropped a wrench or hammer from the top of the ESB, the story would not have a happy ending.

Once again, either the Scaffolding Law or workers' compensation could apply, assuming the victim was a worker. If the victim was a non-employee, the victim would most likely have a negligence claim. True, the worker accidentally dropped the hammer or whatever. But we must all accept responsibility for our mistakes. In this case, part of that responsibility involves paying compensation. The employer, and not the individual, is financially responsible for this compensation, because of the respondeat superior rule.

Caught Between

These injuries usually involve motor vehicle collisions. A victim is "caught between" a large construction vehicle, like a dump truck, and a fixed object, like a retaining wall.

Frequently, construction vehicle operators have little experience behind the wheel. That's especially true if a worker is repositioning a vehicle. Furthermore, most construction sites have poor sight lines and are very busy. The combination often leads to vehicle collisions.

Driver error causes about 90 percent of these vehicle collisions. In civil court, victims must prove negligence, or a lack of care. But as mentioned, workers' compensation is no-fault insurance. Even if the victim was partially, mostly, or entirely at fault, full benefits are available. These benefits usually include lost wage replacement and medical bill payment.


Largely depending on the length of exposure, electrocution injuries vary. Exposure length is usually measured in the tenths or hundredths of seconds. An electric wire carries heat that's four times hotter than the sun's surface.

Almost literally in the blink of an eye, temperatures that high cause third-degree burns. These injuries melt the top layer of skin and singe the second layer. Doctors must use skin grafts to treat these injuries. Furthermore, after doctors do their work, the physical and emotional scars remain.

Sometimes, contact with an exposed wire causes an arc blast. The good news is that burns often aren't as bad, since there is less contact. The bad news is that arc blasts propel victims through the air. These victims almost always land hard or fall from a height. So, arc blasts essentially combine burn and fall injuries.

Workers' compensation covers many electrocution injuries. Additional compensation could be available as well. Usually, someone needs to shut off the power in areas where workers are active. If that does not happen, a New York personal injury lawyer might be able to prove employer recklessness. In these situations, victims are entitled to additional compensation for their noneconomic losses.

Toxic Exposure

Renovation and demolition workers are especially at risk for cancer, breathing problems, and other occupational diseases. These conditions develop over the course of more than one work shift.

It's hard to believe that asbestos, one of the most toxic substances on the planet, is still legal to use in the United States. New use is very rare, but asbestos is quite common in anything built before 1980. A single microscopic fiber could cause mesothelioma, a very rare kind of heart-lung cancer. This cancer is very deadly and very hard to detect. In fact, by the time most victims know they are sick, doctors can do little except make them comfortable.

Asbestos exposure could also cause a number of serious lung diseases, like asbestosis. Benzene fumes are another such hazard. These fumes are very common in diesel exhaust, industrial solvents, and other products. The fumes basically burn the lungs and create scar tissue. These scars block narrow breathing passageways. Like mesothelioma, toxic exposure breathing problems usually have very long latency periods.

By the time many of these victims know they are sick, and they connect their injuries with their workplace environments, the workers' compensation or other claim deadline has passed. A variation of the delayed discovery rule usually applies in these siltations. So, no matter how much time has passed, victims might still be eligible for compensation.

Construction injury claims are quite complex. For a free consultation with an experienced New York personal injury attorney, contact the Pianko Law Group, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.

Share on

Related Posts

Does Workers’ Comp Always Cover Job Injuries?

November 26, 2022  •  Maurice Pianko

Let Us Help

If you need legal representation for you personal injury we are here to help. Call us today or click the button below to schedule a free consultation.
Call: (646) 801-9675Schedule consultation
Copyright © 2024 Pianko Law Group. All rights reserved.
phone-handsetcalendar-fullbubblecrossmenuchevron-up linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram