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Tragic Queens Construction Death Possibly Avoidable, Lawyer Says

Tragic Queens Construction Death Possibly Avoidable, Lawyer Says

One construction worker is dead and three others are injured when after a wall collapses on a construction site.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – January 12, 2011 ­ A 20-foot high cinder block wall collapsed at a Queens, New York construction site yesterday, leaving one construction worker dead and injuring three others, officials said.

Huberto Sanchez, 27, was crushed to death on the construction site by scaffolding and cinder blocks. At the time of the accident, construction crew workers were pouring cement into the cinder block wall, said officials.

The other three construction workers were injured by the construction debris that rained down on them.

New York construction accident lawyer David Perecman said the construction accident reminded him of a similar case he handled a few years ago, where he represented a construction worker who was injured when a cinder block wall collapsed while concrete was being poured.

“In that case, in order to find out why the wall collapsed we had to force the testimony of the person overseeing the construction who had left to Florida. We hired investigators, tracked him down and had the court order him to testify through a video since we could not force him to come back to New York. By the time we were done taking his testimony we had proven our client’s case that the wall was not properly braced to withstand the weight of the concrete,” explained Perecman, a New York construction accident attorney with over thirty years of experience in construction-related cases.

The concrete-pump operator at the site told the New York Daily News that he believed the wall had a leak and came down because of built up pressure.

Perecman believes that this construction accident needs more investigation.

“Odds are, something went wrong here,” said Perecman. “Lawyers will have to figure out if pressure built up or whether the concrete was poured too hard or too fast or what other cause there may have been.”

In New York, construction accident lawyer Perecman points out, generally, there are procedures in place to prevent accidents like this one and he believes these procedures were most likely not followed. Walls should be braced and secured so that they do not collapse and concrete pouring procedures must be done properly and carefully so that the weight of the concrete and the pumping pressure does not cause a collapse.

The New York Department of Buildings is investigating the tragic construction accident and New York construction accident attorney Perecman is following the story.

“The devastating accident that occurred yesterday in Queens reminds us why the construction laws in New York need to be so strong – to protect workers in New York construction,” the accident lawyer said.

Now some questions to ask are whether the contractors followed good safety procedure, were they prepared for an emergency situation on the construction site, did they have properly working equipment, and were the workers properly trained.

According to the New York Department of Buildings, fatal construction-related accidents in New York dropped 84% in 2009 compared to the previous year. In 2010, there were 157 construction accidents, a drop of 28% from the number of construction accidents in 2009.

However, construction accident lawyer Perecman disagrees with the optimism of these statistics.

“While the Buildings Department of the City of New York touts the statistic that last year construction accidents declined to 159 from 218, a 28% change, what they fail to mention is that this most likely is not the result of safety procedures or enforcement but rather, probably, reflects the fact that there is far, far less construction taking place in New York City,” said Perecman. “If the amount of construction declined more than 28% that means 2010 was no better than 2009 or prior years. And this is precisely why the law in this area has to be so strong.”

The challenge for New York construction accident attorneys is to ensure that construction workers are compensated for their injuries and to hope that responsibility by employers and contractors helps ensur similar accidents don’t occur in the future in New York. A number of construction accident injuries could be avoided if construction crews were properly instructed and supervised to make sure they follow safety protocol.

In a case where a construction worker is injured due to the negligence of a construction company or supervisor, he or she may wish to file a lawsuit. In fact the laws in New York are strong and sometimes negligence isn’t required as long as there is proof of a failure to provide proper protection. A settlement from a construction accident can help the victim of the construction accident and/or the family pay for medical bills, loss of wages and pain and suffering. When a worker dies, the family is entitled to be compensated for the loss of guidance the parent would have given to the children and for the financial support that is lost.


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