Construction Accidents from Falling through Holes and Openings

When a construction worker falls through a hole or an opening at a construction site significant injuries can be incurred. Because of this New York has special rules and laws to protect construction workers from "gravity" and "elevation related" risks, such as falling. When the rules meant to protect construction workers from falling from a height are violated, a construction worker may sue the property owner, general contractor or other entity responsible for the dangerous condition.

New York Labor Labor Law Section 240(1) states in part that:

1. All contractors and owners and their agents, except owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the work, in the erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning or pointing of a building or structure shall furnish or erect, or cause to be furnished or erected for the performance of such labor, scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes, and other devices which shall be so constructed, placed and operated as to give proper protection to a person so employed.

In recent cases the courts have awarded judgment to construction workers in the following circumstances:

Where the waterproofer was working on a scaffold between the second and third floors of a building and was injured when he stepped into a hole in the scaffold and fell through it. Kupiec v. Morgan Contracting Corp. 137 A.D.3d 872.

Where a framer sustained injuries when he fell through an unguarded stairwell opening while performing framing work as part of the construction of a single family residence. The worker established that he was injured while working at a building that was under construction, that he fell through an open, unfinished stairwell, and that he was not provided with any safety devices to prevent or break his fall. King v. Malone Home Builders, Inc., 177 A.D.3d 1649.

Where an elevator mechanic fell to his death down an unguarded elevator shaft-way. Melito v. ABS Partners Real Estate, LLC, 129 A.D.3d 872.

When a construction worker was working on flooring which consisted of wooden planks, with gaps between them seven stories above the bottom of a shaft below, the worker who fell was faced with an elevation-related hazard, for which he could recover. Kircher v. City of New York, 122 A.D.3d 486.

Where a pipefitter stepped into an unguarded two foot by two foot floor opening. Lawler v. Globalfoundries U.S. Inc. 2014 WL 4900480.

The above are just a few examples of cases in which construction workers were entitled to recovery for falling through a hole, opening, or shaft-way due to the lack of protective devices. There are of course many other dangerous conditions that result in injury that a worker could recover for.

Given the severity of injuries that can occur from a fall from a height, workers are often not able to return to construction work for long periods of time, and are often permanently disabled. Injured construction workers are entitled to recover for both non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life, and economic damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, lost benefits, and other our of pocket expenses. Spouses can also recover for loss of services.

If you have questions about a New York construction accident case, you should contact an experienced NY personal injury law firm that handles construction accident cases. Zalman Schnurman & Miner P.C. is a NY personal injury law firm that is experienced in handling construction accident cases. All consultations are free, and there in no if there is no recovery. For a free consultation with an experienced NY construction accident lawyer contact 1-800-LAWLINE (1-800-529-5463).

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