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Undocumented Construction Workers Are Protected Under New York’s Labor Law and Worker’s Compensation Law

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2016 | Firm News

If you’re been injured on the job in New York, most workers know that they are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. In addition, they may be able to bring a lawsuit for their pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses and lost earnings as well as other losses against property owners and/or the general contractor on the jobsite under New York’s Labor Law.  Yet, for undocumented workers, the days and weeks following an injury can be fraught with uncertainty, doubt, and fear. Some workers are afraid to contact a qualified personal injury or worker’s compensation lawyer because they worry that doing so could affect their status in the country.

A recent New York Times article noted that with the city’s recent building boom, more construction workers have been injured or killed at construction sites.  Alarmingly, many of these workers are undocumented. In an effort to keep pace with demand, there is a concern that employers aren’t properly training new hires or providing their employees with the safety equipment they need.

The Times article discussed a recent incident in which a construction worker fell four stories while trying to hang drywall at a New York City construction site. The New York Times reported that despite the fact that the man was working next to an open elevator shaft, he was not wearing a safety harness when the accident took place.

Fall protection is incredibly important when workers are performing jobs at height. Proper safety equipment can reduce acceleration in the event of a fall and keep workers safe. It is important that employers use equipment that meets fall rating standards, as not all tethers are designed to absorb the high forces that are generated in a fall. For instance, falling on a tether that isn’t designed to provide safety in the event of a fall is like trying to bungee jump using a steel cord. Workers should always inspect the gear that they are given and ask questions about use if they are not sure. According to the United States Department of Labor, proper fall protection includes:

  • Safety railings
  • Harness and line
  • Safety nets
  • Stair railings
  • Helmets

Workers who are performing jobs at height should also be properly trained about the hazards and dangers.

Finally, if you are an undocumented worker, under New York law, you are entitled to worker’s compensation and may also bring a third-party lawsuit for your pain and suffering and financial losses. Employers who hire undocumented workers are not exempt from paying worker’s compensation premiums for these employees. Nor are property owners and general contractors exempt from compensating undocumented workers for their pain and suffering, past and future lost earnings and other losses. This means that if you’ve been injured in a workplace accident—whether you are documented or not—you are entitled to receive money to compensate you for your injuries.

Of course, the questions undocumented workers face after an accident can be stressful and challenging for the injured person and for their families. While workers are sometimes afraid to come forward and ask for the recovery they are entitled to receive, they should remember that New York law actually provides many protections. If you find yourself in a situation where you were injured in an accident at a construction site but are unsure what your legal rights are, a personal injury who handles construction site accidents in New York City may be able to assist you. Antin, Ehrlich, & Epstein, L.L.P. are accident and injury attorneys who regularly handle these cases and have gotten great results for our clients, recovering millions of dollars for many and over 10 million dollars for one in particular. We will fight hard to make sure your legal rights are protected and you get the maximum recovery possible.