Trench Collapse Accidents – New York City

Trenching is necessary for various construction and civil engineering projects, from laying pipes and electrical cables to telephones and sewer lines. Construction companies are bound by law to rigorously adhere to safety protocols. However, in 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported an “alarming rise in trench-related fatalities.”  

New York construction accident lawyers at Douglas & London represent injured workers in the construction industry. Workers’ compensation often does not cover the scope of damages. However, we can hold third parties accountable for their negligence, such as construction firms, contractors, and equipment manufacturers. We fight for your right to recover compensation beyond workers’ comp for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Schedule a free case review to learn more.

Understanding Trench Collapse Accidents on Construction Sites 

Narrow, manmade cuts, cavities, and depressions in the earth are required for many residential and city-wide applications. But these trenching projects are not without danger. The weight of surrounding materials and the speed at which they can collapse pose a significant risk to construction workers.  

One cubic yard of soil weighs an estimated 3,000 pounds, underscoring the importance of trench and excavation safety. That weight is even greater if workers work with gravel or clay and when equipment falls into the opening during a trench collapse, trapping workers below.  

What Causes Trench Collapse Accidents? 

The construction industry in New York must adhere to OSHA safety protocols. These practical guidelines are designed to lower the risk of cave-ins and address their common causes, including:  

  • Wet weather creates rain-soaked soil that is more prone to shifting.  
  • Unstable soil or improper soil analysis may result in a collapse under the pressure of equipment and materials.  
  • Lack of proper safety equipment creates added risk, including ladders, hoists, ramps to enter and exit safely, hard hats, goggles, and other personal protective equipment (PPE).  
  • Construction equipment positioned too close to the trench can fall into the gap or stress the trench walls, increasing the risk of collapse. 
  • Vibrations from nearby traffic and equipment can destabilize the soil and cause a collapse.  
  • Failure to inspect the trench before every shift and after weather events by a trained and experienced professional.  
  • Lack of protection systems, including supports, shoring, and trench boxes to stabilize surrounding walls, increases the risk of cave-ins.  
  • Utility lines damaged during trenching can leak water and gas, harming workers.  

Ultimately, most accidents are due to negligence. Third parties who cut corners on safety and inspections put lives at risk. With experienced construction accident representation from Douglas & London, it’s possible to hold them liable and recover compensation.

Trench Accident Injuries

Trenching and excavation are among the most dangerous jobs in the construction industry. Failure to follow proper safety protocols and use protective equipment can cause a collapse and serious injuries, which include: 

  • Amputations 
  • Broken bones 
  • Crush injuries  
  • Drowning  
  • Electrocutions 
  • Internal injuries  
  • Nerve damage  
  • Suffocation 
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) 

Unfortunately, some trench collapse injuries result in permanent disabilities or are fatal. It’s wise to consult a New York construction accident lawyer to protect the rights and interests of victims and their loved ones.

Determining Liability in New York City

A trench site has many moving parts, and liability hinges on the specific circumstances of the accident and responsibility for safety compliance, including: 

  • Construction companies 
  • Contractors and subcontractors 
  • Developers 
  • Equipment manufacturers  
  • Engineers 
  • Property inspectors  
  • Site owners 

Multiple third-party defendants could be named in a construction site lawsuit if their negligence contributed to the accident.

Compensation for New York Construction Accidents

Injured workers in New York may be eligible for the following three types of compensation:  

  • Economic damages: These are financial losses resulting from a construction accident, including costs for medical treatment, medications, medical devices, and lost wages and future lost wages. Burial and funeral costs and loss of financial support are also compensable if there is a fatality. 
  • Non-economic damages: These are intangible losses resulting from a serious construction accident, like pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and scarring and disfigurement.  
  • Punitive damages: Are assessed to punish the defendant for outrageous or egregious conduct and to deter the defendant and others from engaging in similar conduct in the future.  

In the wake of an on-the-job accident, it’s essential to consult with a personal injury attorney who has successful experience with construction accident litigation and can determine whether your case warrants further legal action.

Choosing the Right New York City Trench Collapse Lawyer

At Douglas & London, we are prepared to leverage our considerable skills and resources to navigate the complexities of construction site accident third-party claims. Using our in-depth knowledge of state and local construction industry standards and regulations, we identify liable parties, gather all available evidence, and build a compelling case for compensation.  

We know the challenges of taking on large corporate entities and their legal teams. However, it’s necessary to demand safety on the construction site and protect city and state workers across New York.

Contact Douglas & London

We have recovered over $18 billion in verdicts and settlements. We are proud of our commitment to achieving justice for New Yorkers. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a New York Construction accident lawyer. Since we work on a contingency fee basis, you will not pay attorney’s fees unless we win compensation for your injuries. We represent clients across Manhattan, New York City, and New York State.