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Construction Accidents

Compensation for Workers Trapped by a Falling Structure

There are several ways a New York construction worker may find himself trapped by a falling structure. This type of construction accident can cause injuries from exposure to hazardous materials, blunt trauma, and fatal injuries. Injuries of this nature often result in long-term disability or permanent trauma.

If you or a loved one suffered injury due to structural collapse, you may be eligible to file a third-party claim, in addition to the standard workers’ compensation claim. A construction accident attorney from Buttafuoco & Associates can help you recover compensation if you or a loved one was injured after being trapped by a falling structure.

How do structural collapses occur?

Some construction jobs see structural collapse more often than others. Three of the most common jobs that put workers in danger of a falling structure are trench construction, scaffolding collapses, and building demolition.

During trench construction, the site planner and foremen must develop a plan that ensures structural integrity regardless of natural forces. Excessive rain, the wind, and seismic activity can cause trench collapse, but the effects of these elements should be preventable with the right safety features and design.

Improperly constructed or secured scaffoldings or those not up to code can buckle under the weight of workers. While these structures seem light, a large one can weigh several hundred pounds. Scaffolding not properly anchored to the ground can fall during windstorms or heavy rainfall.

During building demolition, the person overseeing the operation must account for all demolition personnel before conducting the structure collapse. Failure to do so can result in an employee remaining inside the structure as it collapses.

Failure to properly demolish a building can also result in a worker becoming trapped under a falling structure. If there are any walls or structures still standing after demolition, workers must follow the proper protocol to remove them as soon as possible. Workers should also rope off the area.

Potential Injuries in a Falling Structure Accident

Blunt force trauma is a common result of being trapped by a falling structure. Depending on the size and weight of the structure, a worker may sustain:

  • Fractures
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Spinal injury or brain damage from blows to the head or spine

Another danger especially common in construction collapse accidents is exposure to respiratory irritants. These accidents can cause clouds of dust and debris that can harm the respiratory system. If the walls of a demolished structure contained toxic substances such as asbestos or lead, these may cause illness in trapped workers.

Finally, there is a psychological component to entrapment by a falling structure that can worsen the longer it takes to free the worker. Workers trapped in an underground trench or excavation collapse many need to wait hours or even days for clearing of the pathway. When the time of rescue is unknown, it can cause significant mental trauma.

Your Legal Options after Being Trapped by a Falling Structure

While you have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim against your employer’s insurance, you may also have the right to file a lawsuit against an at-fault party. Under New York Labor Law 240/241 (i.e., the Scaffold Law), a property owner or employer has “absolute liability” for injuries suffered by an employee when the employer is in violation of certain “gravity-related,” scaffolding safety codes.

Essentially, this means the law does not require the injured worker (or family members if the fall led to the worker’s death) to prove that the employer/property owner was negligent or violating codes. This can still be pretty complicated; do not attempt to do so on your own.

Buttafuoco & Associates is here to help injured New York workers who have difficulty collecting workers’ compensation benefits. We can also help you if you believe you are eligible to file a claim against your employer or another third party for negligence leading to entrapment.

The damages from entrapment by a falling structure can last a lifetime and prevent you from returning to construction work or any other occupation. If you suffered serious or permanent damages, you might be entitled to significant compensation.

Contact Buttafuoco & Associates at 1-800-NOW-HURT to schedule a free case review.