Articles Posted in Slip And Falls

A July 27 report by Construction Dive detailed some of the heftiest citations levied against construction job sites in Q2 2020 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which inspects workplaces for safety compliance and takes enforcement action against violators. OSHA’s Q2 citations include actions for fall safety, the improper use of hydraulic excavators, and a fall resulting in death. They range from $134,937 to $234,642.

The largest action was taken against Columbus, Ohio contractor Alejandro Vasquez Gallegos. OSHA inspections found alleged safety violations including “workers on roofs without sufficient fall protection, employees without safety glasses and workers using ladders improperly,” according to Construction Dive. The inspectors observed these violations at two separate construction sites. It proposed fines of $141,222 and $95,420, totaling $236,642. The contractor has not contested these citations.

The second largest action was taken against Pacific, Missouri firm Unnerstall Contracting Co. LLC. According to OSHA records and Construction Dive, a December 2019 inspection found that one of the firm’s workers sustained an injury when a trench collapsed, and OSHA subsequently issued the firm “four serious and three willful citation violations,” with proposed fines totaling $224,459. OSHA also added Unnerstall to its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. OSHA records docuent allegations that the firm failed to properly protect its trenches, permitted water to accumulated in the trench floor, did not offer a safe exit path from the trench, failed to protect employees from struck-by hazards, and permitted employees to ride in heavy equipment buckets. The firm is contesting OSHA’s citations.

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Amid a long-running construction boom in New York, the Department of Buildings (DOB) sent a message to construction companies and contractors by cracking down on habitual offenders with a round of “surprise inspections.” The DOB’s new commissioner took action against the construction industry during his first few days on the job. “Every worker should be thinking about safety first,” Acting Buildings Commissioner Thomas Fariello told WNYC, “It’s not just a saying, it’s real.”

The DOB has been roundly criticized for failing to protect the workers in New York’s most dangerous industry. In April, three construction workers died while on the job. In the same month, the DOB delayed implementing new safety regulations for the second time since the law passed City Council in 2017. The city-run agency said it had insufficient resources to draft and enforce the regulations.

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A new government report on the construction industry shows serious defects in compliance across the state. Released by Senator James Skoufits, he says the report shows that, “Firefighters are going to die. Tenants are going to die if the state and local officials do not start prioritizing code enforcement.” According to the Senator’s ‘bombshell’ report, the problems with regulating the industry are widespread and involve everyone from the executive branch to the local municipalities.

Released in August 2019, the report details serious dangers with the state’s construction industry. According to NBC New York, the report specifically faults:

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The Department of Buildings (DOB) is suing to revoke the license of a contractor allegedly responsible for the death of a construction worker earlier this year in Turtle Bay. According to The New York Daily News, Nelson Salinas was working on scaffolding halfway up a 14-story residential building when a coping stone was knocked loose by rigging used to support the scaffolding. The stone hit Salinas in the head and he was rushed to New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center where he died from the injuries

After a full investigation, the DOB says the fault lies with Wlodzimierz Tomczak and is now attempting to revoke his special rigger license over the incident. According to the DOB, Tomczak “did not take proper precautions” and could not produce “multiple inspection records… related to the scaffold setup.” 

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Slip and fall accidents are an unfortunate, common occurrence and can sometimes lead to serious injuries. While determining who is at fault in a slip and fall accident can depend on several different factors and circumstances, there are a few guideposts to help you determine who may be responsible for your damages.

In short, whoever behaved “unreasonably” will be at fault. The long explanation, however, is predictably more complicated. Recognizing that the world is an unsafe place, the law does not exclusively assign guilt to one person or company in every circumstance. Instead, it expects everyone to behave in a reasonable manner.

slip-and-fall-1So, what is “unreasonable” behavior under the law? The best way to explain this is with an example. Imagine that you are working in a restaurant and you see someone slip on a drink that has been spilled on the floor. Now imagine that the drink was spilled an hour ago and numerous restaurant workers passed by and did nothing. Also, the person that slipped? He is a nine-year-old child. It seems obvious that the restaurant behaved unreasonably when it did not fix the problem it clearly was aware existed. Continue reading

Brooklyn’s Barclay Center has seen at least four lawsuits concerning the seats in Brooklyn’s most famous sports arena. The seats in the so-called “nosebleed” section are usually the cheapest, and now, according to lawsuits, also the most dangerous. Apparently, the steps are so steep that people are prone to miss a step and come crashing into other concert-goers or sports fans. The problem, generally compounded by drunken fans or concert attendees, has spurred four lawsuits against the arena.

The problem first came to the attention of Barclay’s Center almost as soon as the arena opened. During one of the high-profile Jay-Z concerts that inducted the new arena in 2012, Sara Smith of Manhattan sued the facility after a drunken man walking on the steps behind her lost his footing and fell on top of her. This “sent her flying.”

fall-down-steps-300x169According to a court transcript obtained by the New York Post, Smith told the court, “My face struck the railing. My legs were all bruised, and you know, everything hurt at this point, so I didn’t know what I had broken. I was just really scared.” Smith ended up with a broken wrist and settled the case out of court for an undisclosed amount. Continue reading

Despite its reputation for progressive politics, New York City is failing its residents with physical disabilities. While the subway has long created a nightmare of obstacles for New Yorkers with special needs, sidewalks are also becoming an increasing problem for the city.

Disability advocates point to two main problems with the city’s sidewalks. First, there are an insufficient amount of so-called “curb cuts.” Curb cuts are the term used for the are where the concrete sidewalk becomes level with the asphalt on the street.  For individuals with walkers or wheelchairs, the steady and smooth decline into the street is necessary for their safety. If the curb cut has a large bump or cracks, wheelchairs can be more difficult to navigate, imperiling the safety of the person as he or she attempts to safely cross the street. Continue reading

The following post discusses a recent decision by the New York State Appellate Division, Second Department, regarding the admissibility of “habit” evidence during a personal injury trial.  In many instances, people think of personal injury law as straightforward or “cut and dry.”  What could be complex about someone slipping and falling?  This case is an example as to how personal injury cases are not always that straightforward particularly at the trial stage.

On December 23, 2010, plaintiff Veronica Gucciardi slipped and fell on ice in a parking lot outside of a restaurant owned by the defendant, New Chopsticks House. The plaintiff sues the defendant in a negligence cause of action for personal injuries suffered as a result of the incident. The Supreme Court of Richmond County granted the defendant’s motion to preclude the introduction of evidence related to a surveillance video. The surveillance video at issue contained footage of post-accident measures taken by the employer, which showed an employee dumping a bucket of water into the parking lot. Upon granting the defendant’s motion, the plaintiff appealed. The Appellate Division held that evidence of video recordings and testimony was inadmissible.

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In Giannotti v. Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, plaintiff was a patron who brought an action against Hudson Valley Credit Union, seeking damages for personal injuries she sustained in a trip-and-fall accident in the credit union’s lobby.

On April 16, 2013, the plaintiff walked with a Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union employee towards an office presumably to discuss a banking or credit union matter.  She tripped over part of a sectional rug laid over a tile floor.  After the fall, plaintiff noticed that part of the rubber edge of the rug was bent upwards.  Plaintiff sued Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union for personal injuries.  Defendant made a motion to dismiss the case (summary judgment).  The Supreme Court of Orange County granted defendant’s motion for dismissal/summary judgment.  Plaintiff appealed.

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The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department in Bergin v Golshani, 2015 NY Slip Op 06103 [130 AD3d 767], denied a defendant’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss a cause of action alleging negligence.

In the slip-and-fall case, the plaintiff sought to recover damages for personal injury for defendant’s failure to inspect the area where plaintiff was injured.  Here, the plaintiff fell on a loose piece of slate on a slate stone landing.  Nassau County Supreme Court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss the plaintiff’s cause of action alleging negligence.  The defendant’s cross-appealed the court’s decision denying its motion for summary judgment to dismiss the cause of action.  Continue reading

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