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Trench Collapse and Excavation Cave Ins

Construction Accident Lawyers for Syracuse Workers

Cave-ins and trench collapses are significantly more severe than other types of construction accidents. They can result in asphyxiation, crushing injuries, or death, not only to workers, but also to bystanders. If you were injured in a trench collapse or excavation cave in on a construction site, the skilled Syracuse construction accident attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano may be able to help you assert your rights.

Dangers of Trenching and Excavation

Trench collapses cause many fatalities and even more injuries each year. It is crucial for both workers and visitors to avoid going into a trench that has not been properly protected. Generally, if a trench is at least 20 feet deep, a registered engineer must design the protective system.

Many kinds of protective systems are intended to stop trench collapse. For example, sloping or shoring can be performed. Sloping requires that the walls of the trench be cut at a particular angle, while shoring involves the installation of supports to stop the dirt from moving. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards require the daily inspection of trenches by someone competent to determine that dangers have been eliminated. Someone who is considered competent under OSHA standards is a person that’s able to identify predictable or existing dangers that could harm employees.


Obtaining monetary compensation for your injuries (or the death of a loved one) depends on the circumstances of the trench collapse or excavation cave in. Often, injured workers can recover medical bills and lost wages simply be pursuing a workers’ compensation claim. This is a no-fault system designed to allow you to recover benefits for work injuries without having to prove your employer’s fault —and without your employer being able to point to your fault in order to deny you compensation.

However, workers and bystanders may also be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a third party following an accident of this nature, and a knowledgeable construction accident lawyer can help you determine whether this sort of claim may be appropriate for you. In many situations trench collapses and excavation cave ins are preventable, and it is negligence that results in injuries or death. Companies often don’t know the true dangers that arise out of trenching work and may not provide the appropriate protective safety equipment. In these cases, it may be possible to hold them liable under New York Labor Laws.

Under Labor Law 241, contractors and owners who are doing any excavating in connection with demolition or construction are supposed to comply with certain requirements, and can be held liable for failure to do so. For example, when floors are going to be arched between beams or the floors are of fireproof material, the filling or flooring must be completed as the building progresses. Under this law, where floor beams are wrought of steel or iron, the entire tier of steel or iron beams on which structural steel or iron is being built up is to be completely planked over, except those spaces reasonably needed for proper construction of steel or iron work, for lowering or raising materials or for elevator shafts or stairs that are shown on specifications and plans.

Under this law, the areas where excavation is being performed are supposed to be guarded, shored, constructed, arranged, and conducted in order to give reasonable and appropriate protection and safety to the people employed there or frequenting those places. A commissioner can also enact additional rules to protect workers doing excavation work. Further, under this law, liability for noncompliance can’t be imposed on professional engineers or architects or landscape architects who don’t direct or control work for activities other than design or planning.

Seasoned Construction Accident Attorneys in Syracuse

Working near trenches or excavation sites is extremely dangerous. The lawyers at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represent construction accident victims in and around Syracuse. We also represent speeding accident victims in Rochester, Elmira, Binghamton, Ithaca, Auburn, Herkimer, Delhi, Oneida, Watertown, Oswego, Lowville, Utica, Wampsville, Canandaigua, Cooperstown, and Lyons. Please call us at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form.

Client Reviews
"We were very impressed with how Jeff DeFrancisco represented us at trial and we were extremely happy when the jury found in our favor." D.M., Auburn, NY
"I suffered a serious injury as a result of medical malpractice. My husband and I retained Jeff DeFrancisco to assist us in this case. We were extremely happy with his representation and highly recommend him." Kelley R., Syracuse, NY
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
"I highly recommend DeFrancisco & Falgiatano - Charlie represented me for a medical malpractice case. He is the best of the best. He is friendly and I am very happy with the representation he provided." Roger N., Oneida, NY