scaffold of a tall building

Remodeling and Renovation: Navigating Legalities in Home Improvement Injuries

NTZ Editor

The New York City skyline is dotted with cranes and scaffolding as renovations and improvements take place from Manhattan to Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. Some buildings are undergoing top-to-bottom ‘sustainable’ renovation. Other buildings are being converted to apartments for luxury living, with 15 to 45 floors offering panoramic city views. Many are also older structures requiring building code upgrades to comply with current regulations as they undergo renovations.

Renovation work is good news for construction workers in New York City. However, remodeling and renovation projects in the Big Apple can also result in increased hazards and a rise in on-the-job injuries, many of which are severe or fatal.

Common Causes of Construction Injuries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly one in five work-related accidents nationwide involve construction workers. In New York City, on-the-job injuries in the construction industry are even worse. While construction workers account for 5% of all employees in the Big Apple, fatal workplace accidents involving construction workers represent 25% of all workplace fatalities in the city, according to BLS workplace accident data.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cites four leading causes of fatal construction accidents:

  • Slips, trips, and falls, which traditionally account for one out of three construction accident fatalities, according to the BLS. These figures are often even higher in New York City, according to the City of New York website.
  • Being struck by an object, which, on average, accounts for roughly one out of 10 construction accident deaths.
  • Electrocution-related construction accidents, which are the third most common cause of fatal construction accidents in New York City.
  • Being caught between two objects and compressed by them accounts for one out of three construction accident fatalities in New York City when taken into account with being struck by an object.

Common injuries include head, neck, and back injuries; fractured bones; internal injuries; burns; and amputations.

Remodeling and Renovation Risks for Construction Workers

When an existing building is disturbed during remodeling, renovation, or demolition, dangerous conditions could arise, putting construction workers at risk of injury. These hazards include the loss of structural integrity; the collapse of support beams, walls, or ceilings; the collapse of trenches, walls, or stairs in basement work; floor cave-ins; severing of electrical wiring or gas lines; falling debris; and release or presence of dust and contaminants, among others.

What Happens If You Get Hurt on a Remodeling or Renovation Job?

You’re Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Construction workers injured on the job are eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits, which cover medical expenditures, lost income up to a specific amount (up to two-thirds of salary in New York), rehabilitation, and survivor payments in the event of death. Unfortunately, employees do not always receive the benefits they are entitled to, and under some circumstances, claims are denied. If you are injured while on the job, call a construction accident lawyer to help you navigate the legalities resulting from home improvement injuries.

Additional Legal Protections Are Available Under NY Labor Laws

In addition to Workers’ Compensation payments, depending on the circumstances of the construction accident, injured workers in New York City may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit to obtain compensation and/or a wrongful death claim. Under New York City’s Scaffolding Laws, an injured construction worker on a building site can sue a negligent third party, such as the property owner or general contractor, for their injuries, even if they receive Workers’ Comp benefits.

For example, Section 240 of the New York Labor Law holds property owners and construction firms accountable for any gravity-related injuries suffered by workers on building sites unless the worker was at fault. Construction firms and property owners must ensure proper safety precautions, such as providing appropriate scaffolding and safety equipment, to avoid falls and other accidents. Violations of these regulations can result in serious legal implications and financial penalties for companies.

Section 241 of the New York Labor Law also sets forth specific safety requirements for construction, demolition, and excavation work.

The Law Office of Nicholas E. Tzaneteas can guide you through these laws and compensation you may be entitled to.

What to Do If You’re Involved in a Construction Accident?

  • If you are injured on a construction site, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Notify your supervisor. Make sure the supervisor files a Workers’ Comp claim. If you can, document all of your injuries and get witness statements.
  • Contact a construction accident lawyer.

At the Law Office of Nicholas E. Tzaneteas, we specialize in helping victims of construction accidents throughout the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. You may be entitled to significant financial compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. The Law Office of Nicholas E. Tzaneteas can offer you the legal representation you require to protect your rights.

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