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Excavation work and trenching are considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the construction industry. These jobs regularly involve cutting, digging, or moving earth manually as well as with the help of heavy excavation equipment. There are several things that can go catastrophically wrong in an excavation project, such as falling rock or debris, trench collapses, trench cave-ins, flooding, and more.

But all of these accidents usually come down to the negligence of contractors and/or supervisors, and their failure to adhere to basic safety regulations. When short cuts are taken to get the job done as swiftly as possible, workers are at risk of severe injuries or even death.

A collapsed trench can quickly lead to disastrous consequences, and heavy equipment and debris from above can come crashing down. Sometimes striking the wrong pipe or wire can also lead to flooding and other accidents.

The best way to avoid this is making sure the excavation workers have the appropriate shoring and bracing systems in place to prevent a trench collapse. Unfortunately, many contractors overlook these necessary safety protocols and then workers pay the price.

If you or a dear one has sustained serious injuries in an excavation accident in New York, you need the tenacious injury attorneys at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP to help you get the compensation you deserve.

Our committed and compassionate construction injury attorneys are known for obtaining some of the highest settlements and verdicts in the state of New York. Call us at 212-344-1000 for a free legal consultation.

Different Type of Excavation Accidents on a Construction Site

Accidents on the Job

When workers start digging at a jobsite, there are numerous unknown factors at work that do not become evident until it is too late. Here are some examples of most common excavation-related accidents:

Excavator tip overs: The excavating machine, also known as an excavator, may be faulty. This defect can cause the machine to tip over or hit those standing close to the excavator.

Electrocution: A worker could be digging underground and not be aware of the presence of underground utilities near that spot. This can lead to electrocution, or the worker could strike something hard that may cause them to tip over. This happens when the employer fails to do their due diligence before starting the excavation work; every contractor should have strong knowledge of the underground utilities where their workers are going to dig.

Trench collapses: It is the employer’s duty to ensure the jobsite is thoroughly surveyed beforehand and the excavator operator has been given proper instructions. Failure to do this can result in a collapse, causing the workers underneath to get buried alive.

Injuries to passersby: The workers are not the only one at risk at the excavation site; sometimes, bystanders may also sustain injuries if the excavator operator negligently discharges the machine’s load without checking the vicinity around the machine.

Preventing Excavation-Accident Injuries is Possible 

The employers and supervisors should perform regular checks to ensure the excavation equipment like bulldozers, excavators, bobcats, track loaders, etc. are working properly. Anyone responsible for operating the heavy machinery (such as an excavator) must be well-trained, experienced, and certified.

Distracted operators have been known to cause devastating accidents so steps must be taken to ensure they are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs while operating the excavators.

If only the employer engages in advanced planning before the excavation starts, many of the risks can be significantly reduced. This includes learning what utilities are located beneath the ground at the job site and what kind of collapse-related risks are present in the soil and walls. This generally requires some pre-digging and surveying to understand the underground condition.

Types of Excavation-Accident Injuries

Here are some of the most common ways a worker can get injured in an excavation accident:

Broken bones: It is common for excavation accident victims to sustain multiple fractures. However, in some cases, the broken bones could lead to permanent damage and result in the loss of that body part.

Traumatic brain injuries: Workers injured in a construction accident also become at risk of a traumatic brain injury. Any kind of head injury can result in permanent brain damage, causing the victim to suffer cognitive impairment, loss of mobility and coordination, loss of vision and hearing, and more.

Crush-related injuries: When workers or passersby are involved in some kind of a collapse or someone dumps the excavator load on them, they can suffer suffocating injuries, shattered bones, nerve injuries, smashed body parts, lacerations, heavy bleeding, and even death.

Long-term paralysis: If the worker sustains any injuries to their head, back, or neck during the excavation accident, they may lose partial/complete muscle function in the body.

Exposure to toxins: Sometimes, the excavation job can also release toxic substances and carcinogens into the environment, and the workers or passersby can inhale them. This may result in irreversible damage to the victim’s throat and lungs, and can later manifest into other severe health complications like cancer.

Responsible Party/Defendant in an Excavation Injury Lawsuit

If you have suffered severe injuries or lost a loved one in an excavation accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties and receive a financial award for your losses.

When it comes to the possible defendant(s), your attorney will help determine who was responsible for the accident and thus, your injuries. You may also be able to file the lawsuit against more than one party and then let the court define who bears what percentage of the liability.

An experienced attorney knows that you will benefit from being as extensive as possible in naming defendants. If you are not sure who exactly might be responsible, here are a few possible parties that you can hold liable for your excavation injuries:

  • The company who controls the job site
  • The company who was responsible for pre-digging and surveying the soil and underground conditions
  • The subcontractor who was responsible for exposing the workers to dangerous conditions that caused the accident
  • The manufacturer or seller of the excavator or other heavy machinery which malfunctioned at the wrong time and led to the accident
  • The company responsible for hiring the negligent/inexperienced/distracted excavator operator who caused the accident.

Your attorney will need to establish in court that the party you are suing was, in fact, negligent and careless in their actions. It is also possible that the company will be willing to settle your lawsuit before the case goes to trial. This is done to minimize their legal risk, especially if they know that they are responsible for your injuries.

Here is what you can expect to recover through a jury verdict or a settlement:

  • All the past and future medical expenses (including rehabilitative care, permanent live-in nurses, etc.)
  • All the past and future lost wages
  • Loss of consortium for the spouse of injured/dead accident victim
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering

Get Expert Legal Guidance and Receive Maximum Compensation

If you or your loved one were injured in a construction or excavation accident, Workers’ Compensation is not the only financial option you have. The New York Labor Laws can be stringent in providing protection to injured construction workers, so take advantage of that by hiring an experienced and dependable New York construction accident attorney.

Since 1922, our NYC personal injury attorneys at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP have been tirelessly advocating for injury victims and survivors of those who have died in construction accidents in New York. We have recovered over $1 billion for our clients in verdicts and settlements, and you can be next.



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