How can I determine who is the best construction accident lawyer for my case in New York?

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Michele S. Mirman - Personal Injury - General - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Michele S. Mirman

Located in New York, NYMirman, Markovits & Landau, PC

New York, NY
Phone: 800-381-0183
Fax: 212-227-5011

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Construction accident cases in New York are different from other types of cases and require an attorney with a long history of experience working with these cases. If you were involved in an accident at a construction site as a worker, tradesperson, or laborer, you want to find a lawyer who understands how to identify negligent parties responsible for the accident. These cases are not always cut and dry.

Workplace Injuries

Unlike in other areas of the country, in New York, special labor laws apply to construction accidents. Labor laws protect workers on a construction site, in addition to the workers’ compensation system. Workers’ compensation benefits cover medical cost, lost wages and possible disability benefits.

You are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits no matter who caused the accident. You pursue these benefits through a separate administrative process unlike your typical lawsuit, so your attorney should be familiar with civil lawsuits and workers’ compensation claims. Many construction workers also belong to unions, so you want to find an attorney comfortable representing both union and nonunion workers.

Many people injured at work are limited to workers’ compensation benefits. However, construction workers can also sue third parties in certain situations. For example, the employee may be able to sue the owner or tenant of the property where he or she was hurt, the manufacturer of a defective piece of safety equipment, or a subcontractor who created an unsafe condition. 

Types Of Injuries

Construction sites are dangerous places. Injuries result from a lack of safety equipment, such as ladders or scaffolds, inadequate training or supervision, or from objects and tools falling on workers. A common type of injury results from a worker's fall from a height. Falls from elevations often result in devastating injuries and death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has named four types of injuries most likely to result in death, and in 2016, the last year that statistics are available for, over 60 percent of all construction worker deaths were due to one of these four types of accidents:  

  • Falls
  • Electrocutions
  • Struck by an object
  • Caught in or between a hazard

A special subset of injuries is falls from ladders and scaffolds. New York has a law specifically targeting these dangers. The law holds property owners and general contractors strictly liable for injuries suffered due to a fall from a height. Strict liability means that the victim does not have to prove the owner or general contractor was negligent in order to recover, only that they violated the scaffold law.

What To Look For In Your Attorney

You want to make sure you find an established and experienced attorney with a long-standing reputation for honesty and excellence in the community. Ask what sort of resources the attorney has, including access to top engineers, safety and medical experts. Look for a firm that specializes in injury law, as opposed to one that is a general practice law firm. You want an attorney who has extensive trial experience. A construction accident case is complicated, often involving many parties, owners, tenants, contractors, and subcontractors, and as a result it can take a long time to wend its way through the court. You want an established law firm big enough to cover all court appearances on your case, but personal enough to be available to answer your all questions, whether by phone or in person.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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