Pennsylvania readers may be sad to hear of a tragic workplace accident
that occurred on Nov. 8 at a construction site in New York. One worker
was killed, and four workers were injured when the condominium building
on which they were working collapsed and trapped them in the rubble. A
preliminary investigation revealed the accident was avoidable and occurred
because concrete was poured from the third floor down. The structure could
not withstand the weight of the concrete, causing the fatal accident.
While each of the men will be entitled to
workers' compensation benefits, other legal issues remain to be resolved.
Typically, workers' compensation covers all workplace accidents. The
individuals injured on the job receive the benefits in exchange for a
limitation on their right to independently sue their employer for negligence.
But there are important exceptions to this general rule. First, the limitation
applies solely to lawsuits against the employer and does not prevent workers
from suing third parties for any negligence that caused or contributed
to the accident. Second, employers themselves may be sued in instances
where gross negligence can be shown.
In this case, observers note the contractor employing the men appears to
have decided to pour the concrete from top to bottom because it saved
time and was less costly. The traditionally accepted method requires the
concrete to be poured from the first floor up. It is not known if the
architect or engineer responsible for the concrete work knew or authorized
the work to begin on the higher floor. However, if those individuals did
know, they could be subject to personal injury claims outside of workers'
In any event, the family of the man who lost his life will be entitled
to workers' compensation death benefits, and each of the injured workers
will also be entitled to receive benefits. Because of the complex legal
issues involved, the surviving family members of the deceased worker and
the injured men will all likely benefit from consulting an attorney experienced
in the relevant law and procedure. After all, it is of the utmost importance
to review all of the facts and circumstances before filing and pursuing
claims to recover the benefits deserved. In similar accidents occurring
in Pennsylvania, those who have suffered because of the negligence of
another would do well to seek out sympathetic representation to ensure
that all possibilities are considered.
Source: allmediany.com, "Brooklyn Condo Collapse Kills One in Construction Crew," Nov. 10, 2011