Construction Accidents and Wrongful Death

Upstate New York Lawyers Helping Families of Workplace Accident Victims

Construction sites are notoriously dangerous places to work. Although there are rules in place to protect worker safety, many owners, developers, contractors, and subcontractors put profit ahead of workers' wellbeing. If a loved one dies in a construction accident in Syracuse, Rochester, or the surrounding areas, you may be able to recover death benefits through workers’ compensation, bring a claim under the New York Labor Law, or bring a wrongful death claim against a third party. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, our Syracuse construction accident attorneys may be able to help you recover damages.

Wrongful Death Resulting from Construction Accidents

Generally, if your spouse, child, or parent dies in a construction work-related accident, you can recover workers' compensation death benefits through the worker's employer. The employer's workers' compensation carrier should provide benefits in case of deaths causally connected to work. There is a schedule for funeral expenses set by the Workers' Compensation Board.

When there are no surviving dependents who are entitled to get death benefits, the New York Workers' Compensation Law provides that the carrier should pay $50,000 to the surviving parents or to the estate when there is no surviving parent. However, if there is a surviving spouse with no minor children, they can get 66.67% of the decedent's average weekly wage, up to a statutory maximum. This amount is divided when there are minor children. If a surviving spouse remarries, they can receive a lump sum of two years of benefits.

In many cases, however, workers' compensation death benefits are not sufficient to compensate for the death of a loved one. In certain situations, it may be possible to bring a claim under the New York Labor Law. For example, a family of a victim of a fatal scaffolding accident may be able to bring a claim under New York Labor Law Section 240, which covers situations involving gravity-related risks. It applies to workers who are hurt or killed when they fall from a height or are struck by a falling object. Additional damages may be recovered beyond the benefits that workers’ compensation can provide. The fault of the worker is not relevant to a claim based on Section 240, although it may be relevant to claims under other sections of the Labor Law.

In New York, the personal representative of a decedent's estate also may file a lawsuit against someone other than the employer or a coworker whose wrongful act, default, or neglect was responsible for an equipment accident or another workplace mishap that caused a tragic death.

To recover damages for wrongful death, a construction accident attorney must prove that there was a death caused by the defendant’s neglect, wrongful act, or default, this is a claim that the decedent could have pursued had they not died, one or more people survived who experienced a loss due to the death, and damages were incurred. For example, if a work site had a defective elevator that malfunctioned, and as a result, an employee fell to his death, the victim’s family might be able to recover damages from the company that made the elevator.

Although family members cannot sue in their capacity as family members, a wrongful death lawsuit can seek damages for the losses suffered by them, as well as any heirs, beneficiaries, or devisees. The personal representative who recovers damages is treated as holding the damages award in trust for surviving family members, to whom the damages belong. Pecuniary losses can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit. These may include reasonable medical or health care expenses, funeral and burial expenses, the conscious pain and suffering of the decedent before dying, and wages lost between the final injury and the death. They can also include the loss of services to the decedent's spouse, as well as the loss of parental care and guidance to children.

Retain a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Syracuse or Neighboring Communities

If you lose a loved one in a construction accident resulting in a wrongful death, our law firm may be able to help you recover damages from responsible parties. Our Syracuse attorneys represent the families of people killed on construction sites in Syracuse, Rochester, Binghamton, Auburn, Elmira, Norwich, Cortland, Delhi, Herkimer, Watertown, Lowville, Oneida, Wampsville, Utica, Canandaigua, Oswego, Cooperstown, Ithaca, Lyons, and all of Upstate New York. Call us at 315-479-9000 or contact us via our online form.

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Since the insurance company was unwilling to settle the matter my case ultimately went to trial. At trial Jeff DeFrancisco did an absolutely amazing job by obtaining a very favorable result for me." T.H., Oneida, NY
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