06/27/2013 // New York, NY, USA // New York Injury Accident Lawyer // Jonathan C. Reiter // (press release)
A young construction worker fell 25 feet into a trench at the site of a building renovation in Kew Gardens, Queens, and was pinned under hundreds of pounds of mud until he was rescued by Fire Department EMS. This accident occurred at 5 p.m. on June 18, 2013. The construction site had been issued a stop-work order before this accident occurred. The victim, who has not been identified, was trapped in the trench, buried in mud up to this chest. A Fire Department rescue medic stated that the victim was being given IV fluids and pain medications as treatment for what is known as “crush syndrome,” which is a build-up of chemicals in the muscles of a victim, which can reach the heart within hours of the initial crush injuries, leading to what is commonly known as “smiling death.”
The Fire Department was assisted in the rescue of the worker by Con Edison, which brought a truck called a ‘vactor’ truck, which is equipped with powerful vacuums that essentially sucked the mud out of the trench. The rescue was delayed by the presence of a backhoe near the trench, which was in danger of falling on top of the victim. Crews worked to secure the backhoe before they could work on freeing the victim. When the victim was finally pulled out of the mud, he was said to be confused and not aware of the severity of his injuries. A full accident investigation is being conducted by the New York City Police Department, which will issue a report, as is required of all serious accidents that occur in the State of New York.
According to New York City construction accident attorney, Jonathan C. Reiter, whose office is located in the Empire State Building, and who has handled many construction site accidents, this case raises issues of liability, as follows: “This accident occurred within what appears to be the victim’s scope of employment and therefore, is covered by the worker’s compensation laws of the State of New York. All employers are required to carry insurance for injuries suffered by a worker while in the performance of his job duties. In addition, New York State Labor Law section 240(1), commonly known as the ‘gravity law’, imposes strict liability upon the owner, general contractor and their agents, if a worker, while in the performance of his job duties is injured due to the effects of gravity. This covers a worker who falls from a height, or an object falling from a height and injuring the worker. In this accident, it is clear that the ‘gravity’ law applies.
Strict liability means that a worker need not prove negligence as part of a Labor Law section 240(1) claim.” Furthermore, the site of this accident was subject to a stop work order, which was clearly violated. Mr. Reiter commented upon this fact as follows: “The fact that workers were working at a site that was subject to a stop work order, will immediately subject the owner(s) and contractors to stiff fines for violating this order, and even for criminal liability. The fact is, Labor Law section 240(1) covers this accident and imposes strict liability upon the owner and contractors, regardless of other violations. However, a highly experienced attorney would include all violations of law in a lawsuit for the worker’s injuries and damages from this horrific accident.”
An accident investigation is key in these types of accidents, both by the NYPD and by highly experienced, accident reconstructionists and engineers that are hired by attorneys experienced in this area of law, to uncover all the facts of the accident, as soon as possible following these accidents, adds the New York construction accident lawyer.
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