On April 13, 2019, a 7.5-ton counterweight fell from a crane operated by a 34-year-old veteran and war hero, crushing him to death.
Just shy of two years later by a day, a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the crane operator’s surviving family members, which included both an ex-wife and three children they shared and the fiancée he had at the time of his death and the child he shared with her. The case joins an earlier suit, filed in 2019 by another worker who was injured in the same accident but survived.
Multiple defendants have been named in the suit
The lawsuit accuses multiple defendants of negligence, saying that building owners, developers and other construction companies failed to take appropriate safety measures that could have prevented the tragedy from happening.
The deceased worker’s direct employer was not listed as a defendant — despite a history of safety violations — because of the way that the law works. However, the lawsuit may eventually point to the fact that the building’s owners and developers knew or should have known that their subcontractor had a problematic history as an example of their negligence.
It’s important to note the timing of this case: Wrongful death claims are seldom filed in a rush because it takes time to accumulate evidence that can be used to support a case (and there’s always a hope that the defendants will do the right thing and settle without going to court).
However, delaying too long can cost the surviving family dearly. The statute of limitations that allows a wrongful death claim to be filed in New York is only two years. Had they waited a day or two longer to file, the plaintiffs would have been barred from their suit.
When construction site injuries and deaths happen, seek guidance
Cases like this illustrate some of the mechanics of a wrongful death claim — but they also point to the fact that construction accidents are seldom attributable to just one entity or person. Knowing that can help you avoid the trap of thinking that workers’ compensation is your only recourse.
If you were injured on a construction site or a loved one was killed, seek legal guidance as soon as possible.