A day on the job turned tragic for a young construction worker and two of his fellows earlier this month. 19-year-old Fernando Vanegas was crushed by a retaining wall when it collapsed at a jobsite in Brooklyn. The collapse also injured two other men who were taken to a nearby and are expected to make full recoveries.
Sadly, this particular fatality-like many caused by construction accidents in New York City-was likely preventable. An investigation into the wall collapse revealed that the building in question (a single story commercial space undergoing renovation to add four more floors) exhibited several “structural vulnerabilities” before work had even begun. It also appears that the company in charge of the renovation project failed to provide adequate safety measures to protect Vanegas. Indeed, the young man told his mother of a “close call” in which he was almost trapped under another collapsing wall nearly a year ago.
And these safety deficiencies hadn’t gone unnoticed. The Department of Buildings had cited or investigated the Bedford-Stuyvesant jobsite multiple times for multiple infractions including the failure to use proper safety gear and failure to maintain the facade of the building (which had come loose and hung dangerously over a pedestrian walkway.
Unfortunately, wall and trench collapses at city job sites are two of the more common construction accidents in New York. Like this one appears to have been, most are preventable through the use of proper procedures and application of appropriate equipment.
This young man’s family can also invoke New York’s Labor Law which holds the property owner and general contractor for the construction project absolutely responsible for the happening of an accident. Lawsuits stemming from similar construction accidents in New York City have resulted in significant financial awards for the victim’s surviving family members.
If you have been injured at a jobsite or have lost a loved one at a construction site , contact an expert New York City construction accident attorney immediately. Call the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel for a free consultation at 646-736-2777 or 212-385-1122 to learn your rights.