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Construction injuries suffered by workers in runaway elevator

Elevator accidents involving construction workers are fairly common in New York City. These often occur with new systems being installed and tested in new construction, or they can sometimes occur under various circumstances in older buildings. Construction injuries stemming from elevator accidents are clearly within the scope of work-related injuries that are entitled to collect workers' compensation benefits. 

Those benefits include lost wages under the state's statutory formula and payment of all medical and rehabilitative expenses. Occasionally, a defect in the machinery itself may give a worker an additional claim against the manufacturer of the elevator. Such claims are processed as tort claims for damages against a negligent third party who is not the injured worker's employer. Where a claim can be proved, damages for pain and suffering, and for loss of permanent earning capacity, can be collected over and above what is allowed for workers' compensation.

Recently, an elevator accident in another state saw 11 workers plummet seven floors while inside the elevator. It was a luxury apartment construction site. Apparently, the workers were inspecting and testing the elevator when its braking system failed. The workers were saved from serious disaster by the spring at the bottom of the shaft.

Five injured workers were taken to a hospital. The nature of the injuries is undetermined at this early date. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is making an investigation of the matter. It will try to pinpoint the precise cause of the failure.

Each worker suffering construction injuries will be well-advised to make sure that a claim is filed with the employer and that the appropriate forms for processing a workers' compensation claim are filled out and in the employer's hands. That task, in addition to obtaining medical treatment and following the doctor's orders, is required for a worker to properly protect his or her right to benefits in New York City and elsewhere. In this case, a consultation with a workers' compensation attorney will be very helpful in terms of determining whether any claims exist against any third parties.

Source:, "Construction Workers Injured as Elevator Falls Seven Floors", Colin Fluxman, Aug. 1, 2017

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