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I was seriously injured when a trench collapsed at the worksite. Can I get help with my medical expenses and lost wages?

Excavations are inherently unstable, and excavation work is one of the most dangerous jobs in construction. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the fatality rate for excavation work is 112 percent higher than the rate for general construction. An average of 54 worker deaths per year result from trenching and excavation hazards.

Cave-ins are one of the most-feared hazards of trench work. If you were fortunate enough to survive a trench collapse, you may be suffering from broken bones, internal injuries and other severe harm.

New York workers’ compensation should cover your medical expenses and lost wages resulting from a jobsite injury, but additional compensation through a third-party lawsuit may also be available under New York Labor Laws.

Federal And N.Y. State Excavation Safety Regulations

The many trenching and excavation safety regulations set forth by OSHA as well as New York State reflect the dangers of this type of work. For example, OSHA requires the following:

  • Daily trench inspections.
  • Trench inspection after a rainstorm.
  • Soil condition evaluation.
  • Keeping heavy equipment away from trench edge.
  • Safe access into and out of the excavation.

New York regulations concerning worker protection in excavation operations are similar to OSHA’s. They include provisions on the steepest allowable trench or excavation slopes, the use of bracing and similar means to ensure excavation stability near buildings and the use of proper worker safeguards.

A violation of OSHA standards may lead to your employer being fined, but it usually doesn’t open the door to legal action by an injured worker. A violation of New York Industrial Code, however, may make it possible to file a lawsuit against a property owner or contractor under New York Labor Law Section 241(6).

New York Labor Law And Third-Party Lawsuits

In the context of a construction accident, “third party” means someone other than your employer or co-worker. The workers’ compensation system usually bars lawsuits against the people you work for or with, but allows legal action against others that played a role in your accident. This may include property owners, general contractors, subcontractors, equipment manufacturers and others.

Through a third-party lawsuit, you may recover damages in addition to any workers’ compensation benefits you qualify for. For serious injuries, this added compensation may be necessary to cover the complete cost of your recovery.

Speak With An Experienced NYC Construction Accident Attorney

Workers’ compensation benefits are the right of virtually all injured construction workers in New York, but they may be insufficient for severe trench collapse injuries.

To learn about all of your legal rights and options following a construction site accident, schedule a free consultation with the injury attorneys at David Resnick & Associates, P.C. Call us now or contact us online to get started.


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