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The Perecman Firm

New York, NY Personal Injury Blog

Construction Industry Predicts Growth in 2015 and Beyond

A new survey by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC of America) shows that the construction industry is ready to hire more workers than they have hired in 10 years. The industry estimates that it needs 60,000 workers in the next decade. Their goal is to hire at least 6000 people each year.

However, the concern is there may not be enough skilled workers to fill the jobs. As FOX News (1.27.15) pointed out, the number of craft workers dropped during the recession as people left the field or moved to another area for employment. Even subcontractors report that they are getting overloaded with work. In addition to a shortage of skilled workers, the construction industry said there are a number of open positions for professional jobs including, superintendents, project managers and estimators.

On the positive side, compensation levels for qualified construction workers appears to be rising, said the AGC of America in its recently released 2015 Construction Industry Hiring and Business Outlook.

According to a press release from the AGC of America, construction firms added jobs in 40 states and the District of Columbia between December 2013 and December 2014. These construction employment gains appear to be consistent with the general optimism expressed by the contractors surveyed for the association’s report. According to the outlook, 80 percent of contractors said that they plan to add new construction jobs in 2015.

Texas added the most construction jobs between December 2013 and December 2014. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs included Florida, California, Illinois, Washington, North Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Arkansas.

Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between November 2014 and December 2014. During this period of time, New York was the state that added the most construction jobs.

There are a lot of benefits to being a construction worker, and negative aspects, as well. Construction workers get paid well if they

Obama Lauded for Saying “Transgender” For First Time in State of the Union

President Barack Obama made history on January 21 by saying the words “lesbian,’” “bisexual’” and “transgender” in the State of the Union. This is the first time in history that a President has said these words in this speech.

The President made the recognitions as he pushed for protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. He said he was pushing for LGBT rights because “as Americans, we respect human dignity.”

In his speech, President Obama also called attention to gay marriage. He called it a “civil right” and “a story of freedom across our country.” His words had added significance given that the Supreme Court recently announced that it would rule in the spring whether gay marriage bans were constitutional.

Attorney at Law David Perecman joined a number of people who saw the President’s address as a praiseworthy acknowledgment of lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as a legitimate part of the national community. An article in TIME (1.21.15) focused on the President’s use of the word transgender.

Author and MSNBC host Janet Mock told TIME, “By speaking our community’s name, the President pushes us all to recognize the existence and validity of trans people as Americans worthy of protection and our nation’s resources.”

Currently, transgender people are more likely to experience harassment, mistreatment, or discrimination; to lose their jobs; and to live in poverty, according to a study undertaken by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. A 2010 survey found that 41 percent of transgender people who responded said they had tried to kill themselves, reported The Columbus Dispatch (1.26.15). Leelah Alcorn is a recent, tragic example of how hard it can be to be a young transgender person in America.

Advocates for transgender people seek equality.

As TIME pointed out, transgender people have long had to jump through more hoops then other people to prove they are who they

Pedestrian Killed In Alleged San Jose Street Race

An illegal street race may be responsible for the death of a pedestrian in East San Jose, California.

According to ABC News (1.27.15), two vehicles, a silver BMW and a silver Nissan, were travelling at a high rate of speed when their drivers lost control lost control of them. The two cars hit a guardrail and both ended up on the sidewalk. A pedestrian was pinned against a tree, where she suffered fatal injuries. At least one vehicle had struck Kiran Pabla , 24, the pedestrian who died.

The drivers of two cars thought to have been racing were arrested and accused of vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving following the fatal collision. The drivers were identified as Gabriel Bacerra, 19, and Manual Maldonado-Avalos, 24.

The San Jose Police Department reported that San Jose historically has a high percentage of auto/pedestrian fatal collisions. Twenty-one pedestrians in total were killed in 2013. In a high number of these cases, the pedestrian was crossing mid-block or jaywalking rather than crossing the street at an intersection where traffic signals or other control devices were present. Most of the accidents occurred at night. The inattention of pedestrians was reported to be “a very prevalent factor when examining these accidents.”

A pedestrian killed by street racers is rarely to never at fault. Street racing is illegal, dangerous and a threat to the drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

Statistics on street racing accidents are hard to find. As noted in a 2012 article in USA Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had changed the way it tracked street racing deaths in 2009. A crash is considered “racing involved” only if police charge at least one driver with racing. NHTSA data showed that 153 people died in 122 racing-related collisions that occurred between 2001 and 2010. Previously, the agency used a broader definition that included all crashes where investigators concluded that racing was involved. In racing

The Perecman Firm Announces Scholarship for Students with Autism or Affected By Autism

Avonte Oquendo was a 14 years old boy with autism who went missing from his Long Island City, Queens school in New York on October 4, 2013.

The Perecman Firm officially launched a scholarship honoring Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old autistic boy who went missing after he wandered away from his Long Island City school in 2013. The $1,000 scholarship will be for a graduating high school or college student who is living with autism, or whose close family member has been diagnosed with a form of autism, including Asperger syndrome.

The deadline for the Avonte Oquendo Memorial Scholarship for Autism is July 31, 2015.

“The outpouring of support and assistance that accompanied the search for Avonte was unprecedented. Although Avonte tragically died, we want to show the same support for other students affected by autism in memory of this extraordinary young man,” said Attorney at Law David Perecman, founder of The Perecman Firm.

Applicants for the Avonte Oquendo Memorial Scholarship for Autism must be currently enrolled or have been accepted to an accredited university or college, either at the undergraduate or post-graduate level. Additionally, applicants need to submit an essay on one of three topics which can be found on The Perecman Firm website.

More information and the online application for the Avonte Oquendo Memorial Scholarship for Autism can also be found on the website for The Perecman Firm.

“Our hope is that this scholarship will help offset the financial burden of attending school for a deserving student who is familiar with the unique needs and strengths of a person with autism,” said Perecman.

The Perecman Firm added a section to their website to honor Avonte, to increase awareness about autism, and to share resources where families can find support. The Perecman Firm has represented and continues to represent Avonte’s family in connection with his tragic disappearance and death.

Video Shows New Jersey Police Killed Man Raising His Hands

A video of the December 30 killing of Jerame Reid in Bridgeton, New Jersey was released. It raised questions and stirred anger as the video appeared to show another death of an unarmed black man at the hands of police.

The video gave a partial view of the shooting but there is enough footage to see that Reid had his arms raised at shoulder height before he was shot. The nighttime video of the shooting was taken from the police car dashboard camera. It begins with a traffic stop and goes from routine to deadly in just over a minute. The video could be seen on the CBS News website (1.21.15).

Just after the video switched on, police officer Braheme Days approached Reid on the passenger side of a Jaguar. Less than 20 seconds later, the situation turned tense when Days warned his partner, Roger Worley, that he could see a gun in the glove compartment.

During the interaction, Days screamed “Don’t you f—ing move!,” “Show me your hands!” and “If you reach for something, you’re going to be … dead” at the man in the passenger seat. The officer reached into the car and appeared to remove a gun. Then, the passenger, despite repeatedly being warned not to move, stepped out of the car with his hands raised. The officers opened fire, killing him.

The video showed the shooting and the background leading up to it, however, there are still many unresolved questions that will be critical in an investigation.

A “Use of Force Policy” (PDF) from the New Jersey Attorney General said, “a law-enforcement officer may use deadly force when the officer reasonably believes such action is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.”

From the video it is not clear what threat the officers believed they faced.

The investigation may be handled by the

Faith Seidenberg, New York Lawyer, Inspiration for Civil Rights Lawyers, Dies

Faith Seidenberg, an attorney and activist, who was known for defending civil rights and civil liberties, died at age 91. She is best remembered for her lawsuit against McSorley’s Old Ale House. The New York Eats Village tavern had refused to serve women for 115 years. Seidenberg sued them in a landmark discrimination case and won in 1970.

According to The New York Times (1.20.15), Seidenberg and another woman entered the East 7th Street bar. The other patrons and the waiters jeered. But she did not back down. She waited for the noise to die down and requested service. She was escorted to the door and left. She and the friend who accompanied her into the tavern, Karen Decrow, then sued the bar for discrimination.

On August 10, 1970, a federal judge issued a landmark ruling in their favor, and Mayor John V. Lindsay signed legislation banning discrimination in public places on the basis of sex. That same afternoon, the manager of McSorley’s welcomed Barbara Shaum as its first female patron. Seidenberg did not return to the bar.

Seidenberg practiced law for close to 60 years and, in that time; she had broken legal ground on a number of issues. In 1992, Seidenberg successfully represented ice hockey players at Colgate University in the first case that converted a women’s athletic club to a full-fledged varsity team under Title IX of federal education law, which bars schools that receive federal aid from discriminating on the basis of sex. She also won a case for a lawyer whose skirt, hemmed five inches above the knee, was considered excessively short.

Faith Seidenberg is an inspiration for many lawyers who defend clients’ civil rights and civil liberties.

The fight for people’s rights continues. This week in the news there was a story about McDonald’s workers suing over racial and sexual discrimination and harassment. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the

Worker Falls to Death in New York Elevator Shaft

The construction manager of a renovation project on side-by-side Upper West Side townhomes fell one story to his death down an open elevator shaft, reported the New York Post (1.21.15). Frank Dragotta, 61, had been supervising the project at the two five-story, 1880s properties at 130 and 132 West 70th St.  The buildings were being combined into a single home on behalf of a hedge-fund manager.

According to the tabloid, the city Department of Buildings cited the property for failing to install a guardrail around the opening. If there had been adequate fall protection, Dragotta’s death could have prevented.

Open shafts are well known hazards in the construction industry.   Falls were the leading cause of construction deaths in 2013. A rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that if a worker is more than six feet above a lower level, safety protection must be used. Workers who are at this height or above are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall.

Research produced in 2006 by Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) as part of a research agreement with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) determined that accidents involving elevators and escalators seriously injure about 17,000 people each year and kill 30 in the United States. Elevators caused the most accidents, accounting for almost 90% of the deaths and 60% of the serious injuries. Injuries to people working on or near elevators accounted for almost half of the annual deaths. Half of the deaths of workers working in or near elevator shafts were linked to falls into the shaft.

Scaffolding, guardrails in front of open shafts, safety net systems, and personal fall protection system are examples of proper fall protection. To protect workers from falls, employers should incorporate safety issues in work planning by identifying all fall hazards at the construction site and eliminating them, by conducting regular safety

Car Wedged Between Two Semi Trucks, Driver Survives

Vehicular accidents are more likely to occur when dangerous road and weather conditions are present.

Kaleb Whitby, 27, is lucky to be alive after a 26-vehicle accident in Oregon.

Looking at the photos of the crash on The Oregonian website (1.17.15), not only is it amazing that Whitby survived the crash, he escaped with only a few minor injuries. On an icy highway, Whitby’s Chevy Silverado got sandwiched between two semi-trucks that pinned him in his vehicle.

As reported by The Oregonian, Whitby was driving down a hill on Interstate 84 in thick fog coupled with icy weather conditions. He saw a semi-truck jackknifed across the road in front of him. Knowing he could not avoid hitting the truck, he swerved and hit the trailer. The impact turned Whitby’s truck around, leaving him stalled out on the interstate. The passenger side of his car was facing the oncoming traffic.

Whitby then saw the headlights of another rig that was coming straight towards him. He braced and prayed. Then the semi hit his car.

Whitby was freed from his vehicle approximately 30minutes after the accident, according to The Oregonian. He said he had “two Band-Aids on [his] right ring finger. And a little bit of ice on [his] left eye.”

Car accidents can cause many injuries, to almost any part of a person’s body. It depends on the circumstances of the crash and the severity of the impact.

Brain and head injuries are of the most common auto accident injuries suffered by drivers and passengers. Head injuries can range from a mild concussion to a traumatic brain injury.

Neck injuries are another common form of injury from a car accident. Whiplash affects the soft tissues of the neck. There are also more serious injuries like cervical radiculopathy and disc injury.

Back injuries include sprains, strains, disc injuries, fractures, thoracic spine injuries, and lumbar spine injuries. Symptoms of back injuries can take

I-75 Overpass Collapses, Killing One In Construction Accident

Demolition in construction requires careful planning and preparation to help keep the site safe.

Past safety awards are no guarantee of future success in construction. In a recent accident, a construction worker died and a truck driver was injured after an overpass collapsed onto the southbound lanes of I-75 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The accident left hundreds of tons of machinery and concrete on the road, according to ABC News (1.19.15).

Kokosing, the company tasked with the construction of the overpass, had won awards for safety in the past, including the Willis/Construction Safety Excellence Award in 2006. This is the nation’s Grand Award from the Associated General Contractors of America. In 2009, the company was awarded OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program Star Mobile Workforce Status. They wrote proudly of these awards on their website.

Cincinnati’s police chief, Jeff Blackwell referred to the incident as a “workplace accident.” The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Ohio Department of Transportation were looking into the incident. An excavation and then assessment of the overall structure of the remaining bridge parts and the pavement itself will need to be completed before the road re-opens and workers can continue their jobs.

The accident occurred while workers were taking down an overhead exit ramp that had recently been replaced by a new one. As they were working it pancaked down. The overpass crushed a construction worker as it collapsed and pinned him under the rubble. Crews needed airbags to lift the debris off him and remove his body.

A tractor-trailer hit the collapsed section as the bridge hit the ground. The driver suffered minor injuries. Police Chief Blackwell called the driver “very lucky.” He said the driver was probably seconds away from a different “fate.”

Accidents happen but this one was most likely preventable. When construction accidents do occur, there are usually several steps that lead up to them. Construction sites are always dangerous. In

Pedestrian Dies After Falling Into Brooklyn Sidewalk Cellar

Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalks adjacent to their properties, according to New York City law.

A man walking on Bedford Ave. died after falling through the doors of a cellar grate in Brooklyn. The man, reported to be in his 30s, was walking on Bedford Ave. when the metal doors leading to the basement of an abandoned building collapsed under him, reported the New York Daily News (1.18.15).

Police had not confirmed the incident at the time the article ran, but the New York Daily News reported that the police were seen removing the man’s dead body from the cellar.

A witness, Richie McCray, 50, saw the man plunge to his death. McCray said, “The thing just opened. He was walking. He wasn’t paying attention. The thing is loose. And he disappeared.”

According to the NYDN, New York City received 40 complaints for defective sidewalk cellar doors in 2014, and has received 19 since the beginning of 2015.

Under New York City law, property owners are responsible for preventing any injuries or deaths resulting from improperly maintained cellar grates. New York City ordinances require that property owners keep their sidewalks safe and free of dangers. Owners of property are liable for pedestrians injured or killed after falling into their cellars.

Property owners are also responsible for other sources of serious injuries to pedestrians, including any dangers that may cause a slip and fall accident. Hazards, including wet sidewalks, snow, ice, and holes, may cause these injuries. An individual, who is seriously hurt due to a property owner’s negligence in maintaining the safety of his or her property, may file a claim for compensation. This personal injury claim may help an accident victim obtain money to pay for his or her medical care, lost wages, and recovery. The pursuit of such an action would also send a message to other property owners that there will