New York's Most Dangerous Industry


New York City is famous for its skyline. When we look up at iconic buildings like the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center, we feel a sense of awe. But the construction workers who build and repair these modern marvels face daily risks of on-the-job injury and death. There are no two ways around it: construction is the most dangerous industry in NYC. And while construction work is inherently dangerous, construction accidents are by no means inevitable. Many are caused by unsafe working conditions. 

More About Construction Accidents

Why Construction Accidents Are Unique

The activities that take place on a construction site are by their very nature dangerous. From working at high elevation and around high voltage to using explosives to demolition work, everyday tasks pose a risk to construction workers.

Compared to the civil justice system, the New York workers’ compensation system makes it easier for injured workers to receive medical treatment and lost wage payment by removing the need to prove the employer was at fault for an accident. However, when injuries are severe, as they often are in construction accidents, workers' comp may not provide completely for the needs of those injured on construction sites.

Not only can the severe injuries seen in construction accidents exceed workers’ comp limits, but injuries may fall outside of the workers' comp system. Multiple companies often work on a jobsite alongside each other. An injured construction worker may not be able to sue their employer, but if their injury resulted from the actions of a third party, such as a property owner, general contractor, or subcontractor, they may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit under New York labor laws. 

New York law also allows employers to be brought into third party injury lawsuits, and share liability, when an employee suffers a "grave injury" such as blindness, deafness, or the loss of a body part. Any compensation recovered from a third party injury lawsuit would be in addition to workers' comp benefits the injured worker is eligible for.

These factors can raise liability issues unique to construction accident cases. Injured workers should speak with a NYC construction accident lawyer at Aronova & Associates to fully understand their legal rights. 

How NY Labor Law 240 Supplements Workers Compensation

New York State Labor Law §240, known as the "Scaffold Law," protects workers against falls from height, such as a scaffold, as well as from objects that fall from on them from an elevated position.

With very few exceptions Labor Law 240 imposes strict liability on building owners, their agents, and general contractors for gravity-related worker injuries. That is, the worker does not have to prove the owner or contractor was negligent or careless. In addition, it generally does not matter whether the injured worker acted negligently, unless their negligence was the sole cause of injury.

Without strict liability, an injured worker would have the much higher burden of proving that an owner's or contractor's negligence caused their injuries. New York Labor Law 240 does not guarantee a monetary award every time a worker falls from a ladder or scaffold or is hit by a falling object, but it does limit an owner’s or contractor’s defenses when that happens. In view of this, at least one workers compensation insurance carrier has estimated that injured workers win more than 90% of Labor Law 240 cases.

Workers' compensation pays hospital and medical bills, provides an injured worker with disability benefits to replace lost income, and reimburses rehabilitation and retraining costs. New York Labor Law 240 provides payments that are above and beyond workers' compensation benefits, including compensation for both past and future pain and suffering. Neither is a replacement for the other, but they work together to ensure that a worker who is injured in New York State receives full payment for a job-related injury that results from a fall or a falling object.

If you are injured from a gravity-related incident while on a construction job, your best chance of recovering maximum compensation comes from hiring an attorney from Aronova & Associates who knows both workers' compensation law and NY Labor Law 240. 

Construction Accidents and Immigrant Workers

More than half of New York City’s construction workers are immigrants, according to a 2021 report from the New York comptroller’s office. Construction work is dangerous for all workers. But New York's immigrant construction workers are particularly at risk.

In 2020, construction worker deaths accounted for 24% of all worker deaths in New York State and 22% of all worker deaths in New York City. According to the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) Latinx construction workers are disproportionately likely to die on the job in New York. In 2020, Latinx workers made up 18% of worker fatalities while they comprised only 10% of the state population. NYCOSH explains that scaffolding jobs on construction sites often go to immigrant workers who are unaware of their safety rights or are pressured by contractors to keep quiet about safety concerns. 

New York City was built by immigrants, and the hard work of immigrants continues to power our city. Aronova & Associates is a law firm for all New Yorkers. We offer expert legal representation in multiple languages, including Spanish, Russian, Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Korean, Urdu, and Turkish, to best serve New York's diverse workforce. 

Talk to a NY Construction Accidents Attorney

Construction accidents can involve many different laws, parties, and moving parts. We’re here to help injured workers and their families  sort through the complexities and understand their rights. Get answers to your most urgent questions.

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Aronova & Associates is a firm for all New Yorkers. Our services are available in multiple languages and tailored to the needs of every client.  The first step in providing you with the help you need is a free consultation to discuss your case. When you’re ready to talk, we’re ready to get to work for you.

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