New York Construction Accidents: Know Your Rights

Workers in the construction industry know that certain risks are inherent in their jobs. Working from heights and in trenches, handling heavy equipment and machinery with moving parts, lifting heavy loads, and facing the possibility of contact with power lines, construction workers take risks every day.

You know the risks all too well. You should also know your rights after a construction accident.

If you have been injured in a New York City construction accident it is important to know your rights and your legal options.

Our experienced accident attorneys at Hecht Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. help injured construction workers obtain the benefits and compensation they are entitled to receive. We offer a free case evaluation with no obligation to our prospective clients.

Right to Work in a Safe Workplace Free of Known Hazards

Under federal workplace safety standards, workers have a legal right to a healthful and safe workplace. Employers have a legal obligation to protect workers from hazards on the job. New York labor law makes similar requirements. Federal safety standards, administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), require employers to:

  • Limit workers’ exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Provide protection against falls, such as safety rails, safety harnesses, and lifelines
  • Prevent trench and excavation cave-ins
  • Ensure that workers who enter manholes and other confined spaces are safe
  • Protect workers from high noise levels that could damage hearing
  • Put guards on machinery to prevent workers from being caught in moving parts
  • Prevent exposure to harmful levels of asbestos, lead, and other hazardous substances
  • Provide workers with safety equipment, such as respirators, free of charge

Employers have a general duty to provide a workplace free of known hazards, including safe equipment and work practices. When unsafe conditions exist in the workplace, employers can be cited by OSHA.

Right to Report Workplace Hazards to OSHA

If there is a serious hazard on your jobsite or if your employer is not complying with OSHA standards, you have a right to file a complaint and ask OSHA to inspect your workplace.
You can file the complaint online, download the OSHA form and mail it in, or call 1-800-321-OSHA.

You also have a right to talk with the OSHA inspector privately, go along on the inspection, and meet with the inspector and your employer before or after the inspection. Your employer is not allowed to retaliate or discriminate against you for exercising these rights!

Right to Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Under New York’s no-fault workers’ compensation insurance system, most workers injured on the job are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, no matter who caused the accident.
Families of workers who have lost their lives in construction accidents are generally entitled to claim workers’ compensation death benefits.

These funds will cover your medical expenses and reimburse you for a portion of the wages you have lost because of your injuries. Although workers’ compensation benefits are helpful to injured workers and their families, they may not be enough to cover all expenses and losses after a serious injury.

Right to Seek Compensation from Negligent Third Parties


Generally, workers are prohibited under New York’s workers’ compensation system from filing lawsuits against their employers for work-related injuries.

That restriction does not apply to parties other than their employers who may have contributed to the accident and may be responsible for their injuries.

When workers are injured on construction jobsites, possible “third parties” other than employers may include:

  • Independent contractors who may have been negligent in the tasks they were hired to perform, such as putting up scaffolding, when that negligence results in accidents and injuries.
  • Manufacturers and distributors of defective or malfunctioning equipment that causes injury to workers.
  • Property owners who knew or should have known about existing hazardous conditions on the property.
  • Architects and engineers whose faulty designs caused structures to collapse or other hazards for workers.

Workers who work at heights who are injured due to an improperly installed scaffolding or a scaffolding collapse have a legal right to recover compensation from a property manager or contractor responsible for supervising the project, under New York’s Scaffold Safety Law.

The law is intended to protect workers from deaths and injuries due to gravity-related accidents including injuries caused by dropped objects or tools. It provides special legal rights to workers injured in scaffolding accidents.

If your accident and injuries were caused by the negligence of a third party, you may be entitled to file a claim for compensation for your losses.

Legal Options for Third Party Lawsuits

At Hecht Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., we have extensive experience with construction site accidents and New York labor law. Our attorneys can investigate your accident, determine who was responsible for your injuries, and aggressively pursue the compensation you deserve.

In a third-party lawsuit, you may be entitled to claim damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and more. Our lawyers have handled a range of construction accident cases and we have recovered multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts for our clients.

Our attorneys have been listed in Super Lawyers® and awarded membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum®. When you work with our firm, you pay us nothing up front. Our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we do not get paid until we win your case for you. Contact our office to schedule your free case evaluation.

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