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Bystander injuries on construction sites

In February 2016, strong gusts of wind caused a crane in Lower Manhattan to crash down onto Worth Street, killing one pedestrian and littering the surrounding blocks with debris. People on their way to work in the area fled in panic, thinking that a bomb had gone off.

An investigation by the city’s Buildings Department revealed that the operator had failed to secure the crane the night before and, on the morning of the accident, lowered its boom at an improper angle, causing it to become unstable. The operator’s license was suspended and the department stated that it would assist with city council on improving construction site safety.

When we think about construction site accidents, injured workers are the first thing that comes to mind. What is not as well known is that construction zones, with their heavy machinery and equipment, huge vehicles, and loose debris, also present a risk to bystanders.

Risks include:

  • Falling objects: Work is often carried out at height on construction sites. When correct safety measures are not in place, tools, equipment, scaffolding, and even cranes can fall, causing broken bones, brain and spinal cord injuries, and even death.
  • Slips and falls: Most construction zones have cluttered walking surfaces, which can extend to pedestrian areas. Workers may accidentally drop tools, spill liquids, or leave construction vehicles parked close to sidewalks, creating a slip or trip and fall hazard.
  • Exposure to hazardous materials: When construction workers handle hazardous materials in a negligent manner, they endanger themselves and those in the vicinity, such as passers-by. Exposure to some toxic substances can cause lifelong illness and even death.
  • Construction vehicle accidents: Construction sites are loaded with heavy industrial vehicles such as cranes, bulldozers, dump trucks, and tractor-trailers. When crews fail to operate them in a safe and responsible manner, a serious accident can result, harming bystanders as well as workers.

These dangers are so well-known that local, state, and federal regulations obligate property owners to ensure that construction sites are safe not only for workers but also anyone who may be passing by in the vicinity. When general contractors and construction workers are negligent and do not supervise and secure a construction site, bystanders such as pedestrians and motorists can be seriously injured.

Unlike members of the construction crew, bystanders cannot file a worker’s compensation claim if they are hurt on a construction site, but this doesn’t mean that they are forced to cover their own medical bills and deal with loss of income. They can file a personal injury claim.

If you suffer a serious injury because a construction site owner or supervisor was reckless or negligent in maintaining appropriate safety standards, then contact a New York personal injury attorney who will review your case and determine who is responsible for what happened to you. Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY accident and personal injury lawyer. He uses his expertise and resources to get you the settlement or jury award you need to recover. If you were injured, then it is important to consult with a qualified attorney to see if you are entitled to compensation that can help pay medical bills and lost wages as well as compensate you for your pain and suffering. Call 718-329-9500 to set up a free consultation.

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