One of the cardinal rules of workers’ compensation is that the employee cannot sue the employer. As a trade-off, claims are supposed to be paid quickly and without hassle, regardless of fault. Regarding construction injuries and related mishaps, that premise often has resulted in greater benefit to the employer and substantial hardship to the employee, both in New York City and nationwide.

With comp insurers being able to finance long fights against financially strapped construction workers, the system has worked great hardship in many instances. In Brooklyn recently, however, the authorities stepped in to send a message to employers in the construction trade:  if you recklessly expose your workers to danger and don’t implement preventive measures, you will be exposed to criminal responsibility. The Brooklyn Acting District Attorney announced the arrest of a Bedford-Stuyvesant construction company owner in response to the owner’s alleged ignoring of basic safety protocols.

The owner was arraigned recently after a teenage worker was killed and two others injured when a wall collapsed on them. He allegedly ordered several employees to excavate a part of the property that had not been released by state authorities as part of the approved work area. Despite pleas from his workers to shore up the walls of the excavation site, the accused allegedly did not answer them and compelled workers to toil in unsafe conditions. The 18-year-old victim was declared dead at the scene, and the two injured were hospitalized with extremely severe injuries.

One of the injured men needed multiple surgeries after suffering essentially a broken back. The other worker had multiple serious fractures to the lumbar spine, nose, skull, orbital area, ribs and facial bone. When construction injuries rise to this level of severity, and under the circumstances where the owner has not been cooperative, it is vital that the injured workers, and the estate of the deceased worker, seek the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney without delay. This is important to protect and assert all rights and remedies available under the laws of New York City, the state and federal governments.   

Source: brooklyneagle.com, “Construction site owner indicted after ignored warnings leads to death of teenage worker“, Bob Abbruzese, May 16, 2017