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New York Legal issues Blog

Frequently asked questions about spinal cord injuries

In the wake of an accident, you may very well find yourself becoming an expert in body parts you previously gave no thought to. One common injury from an accident is one to the spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries are extremely complicated and are often not understood unless you, or someone you love, is experiencing one.

In the event of a spinal cord injury, here are 5 common questions to establish a base of knowledge.

Slip-and-fall accidents can be prevented

The responsibilities of New York property owners and employers increase significantly during the winter when snow and ice pose multiple hazards. They are the ones who must make reasonable efforts to prevent slip-and-fall accidents or any other potential incidents that could cause harm to patrons, guests and employees. The implementation of a well-planned snow and ice removal schedule might save a property owner from a civil lawsuit.

The first decision to make would be whether to use a snow removal contractor for the job or use members of the company's workforce. Whatever the choice, monitoring snow removal and logging the removal frequency is crucial. If company workers are tasked with snow removal, they must be equipped with personal protective gear and training in the safe use of removal equipment.

Construction workers' accidents: High winds blamed for fatality

The Department of Buildings issued an order to stop work at a New York construction site in Brooklyn. These steps are usually taken after fatal construction workers' accidents. However, it is sad that lives must be lost before affirmative action is taken against negligent construction company owners. A family who lost a loved one on the Thanksgiving eve, supported by the Brooklyn Borough President, asked for a thorough investigation into the tragic death of their loved one.

DOB inspectors who responded to the construction site after receiving reports of a construction site accident reported that a wall panel fell onto a worker after it tipped off a forklift. The general contractor was issued a citation for allowing unsafe circumstances on the construction site, and the DOB noted that further investigations would follow. However, two of the deceased worker's sons worked with him on the site, and they claim there is more to it than a forklift accident.

Construction workers' accidents: Crane accident leads to charges

When employers in New York are deemed grossly negligent in cases that led to serious injuries to workers, they stand a chance of being criminally charged. One of the many construction workers' accidents in New York led to assault charges against a subcontractor and a site superintendent after two workers suffered life-altering injuries. The incident that gave rise to these charges occurred in June.

According to court documents, the subcontractor arranged for the delivery of a mini crane to the construction site without city permission. The site superintendent then allegedly directed an employee to operate the crane, disregarding the fact that neither the worker nor any of his co-workers were trained to operate this type of equipment. This worker was tasked with hoisting glass panels from the second to the fourth floor, even though he did not know about the need to tether the crane and what the machine's load capacity was.

Construction workers' accidents: Date for new law postponed

With increased activities in the New York City building industry, concern about worker safety led to a new law that mandates more training. The New York City Department of Buildings has data that indicates a significant rise in injuries and deaths resulting from construction workers' accidents. Although the law that had already been revised once was planned to become effective on Dec. 1, 2018, the deadline has now been moved to June 1, 2019.

Initially, various reforms were included in the new laws, one of which was a requirement for all workers in the construction industry to go through an apprenticeship program and receive 59 hours of safety training. However, opposition by non-union construction company owners led to the required safety training being reduced to 40 hours. Small business owners still believe that this requirement will put a significant financial burden on them.

Extreme cold can cause construction workers' accidents

As the harsh New York winter weather approaches, employees who work outdoors need special protection to avoid injuries related to extreme cold. Construction workers' accidents can be prevented if employers schedule most of the indoor jobs for the coldest days. Two of the most common weather-related conditions during winter months include hypothermia and frostbite, both of which make workers vulnerable to additional injuries.

Hypothermia is the condition that results from a significant drop in a worker's core body temperature. If it drops to below 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the worker is treated promptly, the condition will be mild. The worker can shiver uncontrollably, lose dexterity and become incoherent. However, if left untreated, the temperature can drop below 90 degrees and become life-threatening. Along with other symptoms, respiration, blood pressure and heart rate can drop, and emergency treatment will be required to prevent death.

New York officials launch annual campaign to limit car accidents

For the third consecutive year, New York City officials launched their "Dusk and Darkness" campaign. It is an extension of the Vision Zero Action Plan that was created in 2014, and it aims to eliminate deaths and injuries on New York roads. Accident statistics of previous years show a definite increase in car accidents during the winter months. However, the Dusk and Darkness campaign proved successful in limiting the traditional end-of-year spike in traffic fatalities.

Authorities say the evening hours after the end of Daylight Saving Time have proven to be more hazardous for drivers who fail to take more care in driving than they would on summer evenings. Children and workers who choose to walk home from school and work bring about additional hazards at this time of the day. The earlier onset of darkness limits visibility, and most people tend to be in a hurry to get to their destinations as quickly as possible.

Frequent gridlocks to occur in November

New York has some of the most congested streets in the world, and they are about to get even worse. When traffic becomes so bad that all the vehicles on the street spend minutes trying to move a foot, they are in the middle of a gridlock. Despite New York’s numerous travel methods, many residents still find themselves using a car, taxi or bus for some reason to get around the massive city.

If having some of the slowest traffic in the country was not enough, gridlocks also increase your chances to get in a motor vehicle accident. With so many people on the road at once, there is bound to be someone who might hit another car out of impatience, negligence or pure road rage. It is important for residents to understand why gridlocks happen frequently and what they could do to combat the threat.

CRPS is one of the least understood catastrophic injuries

Accident victims in New York can suffer any of an endless list of injuries, some of which could be life altering. These are typically called catastrophic injuries, and they include brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). The latter is an injury type that is not well understood by doctors or victims, nor do they get much sympathy from others because, as the name indicates, it involves pain that can be felt but not seen.

CRPS usually follows an injury to an arm, leg, foot or hand, but could be triggered by a heart attack, infection, stroke, nerve pressure or cancer. The primary symptom is intense, chronic pain along with any of a long list of other symptoms. These could include swelling and constant throbbing, burning pain. There could be a sensitivity to cold or touch, and the skin could appear blue, mottled, red or white, or it could seem shiny and thin. Skin temperature can vary between cold and sweaty, and there could be muscle spasms and feelings of weakness, along with joint swelling and stiffness.

Slips, trips and falls -- common construction workers' accidents

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a significant percentage of fatalities on construction sites in New York and other states follow slips and trips that lead to falls. The same applies to the number of disabling injuries that are caused by these construction workers' accidents. Falls from heights are not the only cause of fatal or debilitating injuries as same level slips and trips -- which are more prevalent in the winter -- can also cause catastrophic injuries.

Fall hazards can be mitigated in various ways, starting with the requirement that all construction workers at heights exceeding six feet who must wear fall protection gear. Elevator shafts, skylights, window openings and other holes must have guardrails or additional protection to prevent falls. Ground level workers are at risk of slipping on wet surfaces, which are prevalent in areas where snow and ice are present. Wet hazards can also be caused by foot and mobile equipment traffic that brings snow, water or mud from outside into covered areas.

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