Not a Citizen? You Can Still Pursue Compensation for Construction Site Injuries

Since 1970, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has placed mandates on employers to ensure the safety of employees at work. OSHA’s General Duty Clause requires every employer to maintain a safe and healthy workplace, and for the construction industry, OSHA has developed standards that must be followed.

In New York, construction site injuries are almost invariably covered by workers’ compensation insurance, which pays medical expenses and lost wages for workers who are injured or become ill on the job. It is a no-fault system, wherein no one is generally to blame, neither the employer nor the employee.

Some immigrant workers who are injured on the job may feel reluctant to report their injury because they fear repercussions due to their status. Rest assured, OSHA and New York state law both cover all workers regardless of immigration status.

If you’ve suffered an injury or illness on the job in New York City — Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, or Staten Island — even if you are an immigrant, you should contact the workers’ compensation/personal injury attorneys at Raskin & Kremins LLP. With our 35 years of experience, we can explore all options for you to obtain the just compensation you deserve.

Workers’ Compensation in New York

New York requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance regardless of the size of their organization or the focus of their business. Even if you trip and fall working in a “mom-and-pop” retail store, by law you should be covered by workers’ compensation. Contractors and subcontractors on construction sites, where the risk of injury is even higher, must likewise carry workers’ compensation coverage.

As mentioned above, both New York law and OSHA mandate that employers and their workers’ compensation insurance cover all employees regardless of their immigration status, even if they are undocumented.

Workers’ compensation will cover medical expenses and lost wages if you have to miss work, but wages are usually covered at just two-thirds of your average weekly compensation. Pain and suffering are not covered at all.

Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit an Option?

Workers’ compensation is designed to be the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries and illnesses, but sometimes a personal injury lawsuit can be pursued against a third party. For instance, if you’re struck by a construction vehicle and the driver was distracted or driving recklessly, the driver could be the third party you could sue for damages.

Another example might be scaffolding that is improperly assembled and results in you falling and suffering an injury. In this case, the contractor or subcontractor who is responsible for the scaffolding could be held liable for negligence.

A piece of equipment malfunctioning because of a design or manufacturing defect, or even due to a lack of proper safety and handling instructions, could lead to a third-party product liability lawsuit.

To prevail in a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove negligence on the part of the third party. Proving negligence involves three elements:

  • Another person or entity had a duty of care to protect you in a reasonable and safe way
  • That person or entity failed to carry out this duty
  • You were injured because of their failure to carry out this duty

A breach of contract lawsuit may also be a possibility. Workers in health care and construction are often given contracts with certain guarantees for their safety and health. If your employer breaches a clause that results in your injury or illness, that could be the basis for a lawsuit.

If you lose a loved one in a construction site accident, then a wrongful death lawsuit may also be a possibility following the above guidelines on negligence.

A personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, if successful, raises the bar on what’s available in terms of compensation. You can obtain compensation for pain and suffering, loss of consortium (love and companionship), as well as loss of future income. Additionally, wage compensation is not capped at two-thirds as it is with workers’ benefits.

Why You Need a Skilled Legal Team

Navigating a workers’ compensation claim can be tricky. Insurance companies can employ a variety of tricks to shortchange your compensation, or even disallow certain parts or all of your claim. They may try to say you’re an independent contractor and thus not eligible for workers’ compensation. For these reasons and others, you need a knowledgeable attorney to help you through the process.

If there is any negligence by a third party that contributed to your injury, you will need an attorney to assess the situation and advise you of the best legal route to take.

If you’re an immigrant or undocumented worker, you may face unwarranted pressure from your employer or insurance providers, but rest assured, you are protected under the state’s workers’ compensation laws. We can help you fend off needless harassment. Let us handle negotiations for you.

Rely on the expertise and knowledge of our team of workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys at Raskin & Kremins LLP to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. If you’re in New York City — including Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, or Staten Island — or in the surrounding communities, contact us immediately and let us help you exercise your full rights.


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