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Construction wall collapse causes injuries in New York

For most Manhattan, New York, pedestrians, walking past a construction zone or a building under construction is a common part of daily life. According to the New York Daily News, massive amounts of rain, described as “Biblical” in proportion, and accompanying wind caused one such wall to collapse, causing injuries to some, and death to others.

Times Square, traditionally adorned with flashing lights and sight-seeing tourists, turned into a site of wreckage when the 15-foot-tall retaining wall came crashing down on top of passers-by. As reported by the National Weather Service, winds of up to 43 miles per hour were present in nearby Central Park around the time of the accident. The “fierce and sudden downpour” did not keep nearby Good Samaritans from assisting those trapped beneath the wreckage. Two women and one man were taken to nearby Bellevue Hospital, for their injuries. A firefighter who responded to the accident was also injured.

A witness to the accident, who worked in the Garment District told reporters that “it seemed like everybody wanted to help. . . . Just like they say, New Yorkers come together in a crisis.”

According to the New York Daily News, a Texas-based contractor was working on the ground level of the building, which was surrounded by the unsteady construction wall. Perhaps ironically named, the Einstein Construction Group claimed they were only responsible for the interior construction, and not the exterior, or the temporary wall. Still, a City Buildings official indicated that the construction wall had not been properly secured. The construction group received safety violations and a stop-work order for the construction site.

The City of New York publishes a monthly statistical report of construction-related injuries and fatalities. In 2012, 175 accidents were reported, 116 of which were in Manhattan. Over the course of 2012, 187 injuries and eight fatalities were reported. As of August, 2013, the most recent monthly report, accidents and injuries year-to-date were nearly identical in number. The report is unclear as to whether it only includes injuries and fatalities experienced by construction workers on the site.

Construction companies are regulated by local and state safety requirements, for the safety of both workers and those who are in proximity of construction sites. When construction companies fail to follow safety regulations, those who are injured may be able to recover for their injuries. When the injured party is a worker, the law usually requires the worker to recover through workers’ compensation, rather than from directly suing the employer. Still, New York law provides that an injured plaintiff may sue under certain labor law provisions, alleging a violation of safety requirements, where they can prove:

  • There has been a specific and concrete provision of the labor law that was violated, and
  • The injury was proximately caused by the violation.

The law specifically requires construction companies to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety on work sites. This requirement usually applies to conditions regarding safety railings, scaffolding, and debris on construction sites.

If you have been injured due to the negligence of a construction company, whether you are an employee on the site, or a pedestrian, you may be entitled to recover for your injuries. Contacting a New York construction injury lawyer will help ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

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