Three undocumented workers have reached settlements in New York after being the victims of a construction accident. The three men suffered serious injuries due to extremely poor working conditions. One of the men, a plumber, was scalded when a pipe burst while he was working at a Wall Street construction site. Another of the men sustained debilitating injuries to his foot after a steel beam crushed parts of his lower body while on a construction site in downtown Manhattan. The final man was injured when three large metal trusses collapsed on him, fracturing his hip and causing several other serious injuries.
According the attorney for the three men, Brian O’Dwyer, “all three cases involve construction and terribly unsafe working conditions.” And indeed, this case is no exception to the experience of many undocumented workers; a large majority of undocumented workers are often forced to work in unsafe situations or risk losing their job. This alarming trend seems to be growing across the United States as construction jobs become harder to find amid the nationwide economic crisis. Of course, unsafe working conditions will invariably lead to more construction accidents, a sad and frightening fact for many of those involved in the construction field.
Executive director Joel Magallan of Asociacion Tepeyac, an immigrant advocacy group, said that while construction work is often dangerous, undocumented workers are likely to work at sites that lack proper safety equipment, OSHA regulation compliance, and required warning signs. According to several studies, both by local nonprofit agencies as well as national researchers, abuses of workers on construction sites are widespread. An especially high number of immigrant workers were represented among those whom had suffered either seriously debilitating or fatal injuries due to unsafe working conditions.
In light of the recent construction accident lawsuits against contractors and building site owners, there may be a positive side to the tradgedy that takes place so often on dangerous construction sites. With the victories of these three undocumented workers, the opportunity for workers who have been injured on construction sites to receive just compensation grows larger. The three men were awarded a total of $3.85 million in damages between them, money they say will now be used to support their families, pay for costly medical expenses, or pursue their dreams.
Despite improvements in safety in virtually every field, construction site accidents remain one of the most dangerous professional accidents. Many times these injuries are seriously debilitating and sometimes fatal. Additionally, workman’s compensation insurance may not provide enough to cover medical expenses, living expenses, and outstanding debt that might have accrued during the recovery time. To that end, it is paramount that workers who have been injured in a construction site accident seek compensation through the proper channels, such as contacting a construction accident lawyer when they have settled on legal recourse.