A 55-year-old construction worker was preparing to hang drywall on a ceiling at a construction site on West 17th Street when he lost his balance on a ladder. The man fell four stories into an elevator shaft, according to the New York Times. He struck three metal bars that were protruding upward at the base of the shaft after the fall happened. The metal bars, which had pierced his arm, leg, and torso, had to be cut so it would be possible to take the injured worker to the hospital. He was listed in critical condition following the incident.
Elevator shafts (in particular open elevator shafts) present a significant risk on construction sites. Workers need to know what their rights are in case they suffer injury from falling down an elevator shaft or from any other unsafe conditions on a construction work site. An experienced New York personal injury law firm can provide legal representation to victims or surviving family members of people killed in an elevator accident. An attorney will help explore all options to recover the maximum compensation possible for the losses sustained.
Elevators and Accident Risks
On a construction site, an elevator shaft provides a very real risk, especially if the elevator is not yet installed or in place. A construction worker performing work above and around the elevator shaft could fall, just as the 55-year-old worker did recently when he was hanging drywall.
Elevator shafts are supposed to be safeguarded to prevent this type of incident from occurring. Unfortunately, at the very building where this tragic accident occurred, the New York Times reports that the site had been fined $1,000 this past August for a failure to safeguard the building’s elevator shaft. If this fine had prompted change and the elevator shaft had been properly secured, the man who fell and sustained critical injuries may not have faced this fate.
Whenever a worker gets hurt on a construction site, the worker needs to consider how to best recover compensation or obtain benefits. A worker cannot sue an employer for an on-duty injury because of workers’ compensation laws. Workers’ comp laws allow an injured worker to get disability benefits and coverage of medical expenditures for job-related injuries, regardless of negligence — which means workers can get benefits even in situations where they wouldn’t have a case against an employer in a civil lawsuit. However, there are times when an employee potentially could sue, but workers’ comp law prohibits bringing a civil claim against an employer, except in very limited circumstances.
Injured workers can sue non-employer third parties for negligence. If an elevator had been installed, for example, and the elevator unit itself had malfunction, the injured victim would have been able to pursue a claim against the elevator manufacturer. This would be separate from any workers’ compensation claim brought against an employer.
Understanding the different options available for getting benefits is essential and a personal injury law firm like Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff can represent those who have been hurt, as well as the families of people killed in elevator shaft accidents or other accidents on construction sites. Call us today.