August 31, 2017 • Construction Accidents
The 47-year-old owner of a construction company has been charged with criminally negligent homicide and with manslaughter, following a tragic accident at a construction worksite. The construction company owner had two different construction sites in Brooklyn where there were serious safety deficiencies. On one of his construction sites, authorities indicate that he ignored complaints that a retaining wall was not being properly maintained. The retaining wall collapsed, killing an 18-year old laborer and causing two other workers to be injured. It is this death that resulted in the construction site owner facing criminal charges.
The case is unusual because often the owners of construction sites do not face criminal consequences even when their actions result in workers being killed. What’s more, workers’ compensation laws typically prevent workers from filing civil lawsuits against negligent employers. While a New York City construction accident lawyer can help workers to get compensation for injuries through workers’ comp, workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy system so employers are typically protected from civil liability for wrongdoing. This makes it difficult to hold construction site owners accountable.
The New York Times reported on the construction site owner who is now being faced with criminal prosecution. According to the Times, the acting district attorney in Brooklyn who conducted a news conference to announce the charges indicated that he believed the 18-year-old laborer who was killed should still be alive and would still be alive if the construction site owner had not been so negligent in maintaining a safe worksite.
The construction site owner ordered employees of his company to conduct an excavation project on a lot despite not having received permission by city officials to conduct work. Adjacent to the construction site where the excavation was being conducted, there was an exposed wall. Federal regulations required him to shore up this wall before conducting the excavation. His workers repeatedly requested that he shore up the wall, but he ignored the federal regulations and the pleas from workers and refused to provide materials to make the wall more stable.
Shortly before noon on September 3, 2015, the wall collapsed. Masonry bricks and debris fell upon three of the workers who were on the construction site. One of the workers, the 18-year old laborer, passed away as a result of the injuries sustained due to the incident.
The owner of the construction site is also faced with additional charges, including reckless endangerment, grand larceny, assault, falsifying business records and tax fraud. The maximum penalty he could face if convicted on all charges brought against him is a period of 15 years imprisonment.
While this case may result in a construction site owner being held accountable for the consequences of his actions, this does not always occur. It is important for construction workers to understand what their rights are after an injury and it is important for families of workers killed on-the-job to also know what benefits they are entitled to. A New York City construction accident lawyer can provide help to injured workers and their families so contact an attorney after an injury occurs. Contact Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff today.