A 39-year-old man was working on installing a gas main in Roslyn Heights recently when a falling steel plate knocked him into a 10-foot hole and landed on him, severing his legs below the knee. According to Nassau County police, officers climbed into the hole after the stricken man and applied tourniquets to control the bleeding. Their efforts undoubtedly saved the man’s life, and he was in a hospital in stable condition days after the incident.

The cause of this accident is still under investigation, according to the Associated Press. We simply cannot know who was responsible for the displacement of the steel plate. Therefore, the information in this blog post is general, but we wanted to give a sense of this man’s legal rights for your general understanding.

The construction worker almost certainly has a workers’ compensation claim, to start. In New York, injured workers are entitled to both medical care and weekly cash benefits to compensate them for lost wages. When a worker suffers a disabling injury, New York’s workers’ compensation law provides benefits based on;

Temporary partial disability — a condition that will keep you from your regular work for a time

Temporary total disability — a condition that will keep you from working at all, but only for a time

Permanent partial disability — a condition that will limit your ability to work forever

Permanent total disability — a condition that will keep you from working at all, permanently. (You should ask a workers’ compensation attorney if your condition qualifies as a permanent total disability.)

Additionally, the loss of limbs can qualify the worker for Schedule Loss of Use or Non-Schedule benefits. Although filing a workers’ compensation claim does not require a lawyer, one is definitely recommended in serious cases like amputations.

In addition to a workers’ comp claim, the construction worker could also have a personal injury claim against certain parties, if their negligence or wrongdoing caused his injuries.

The workers’ compensation system is set up so that workers do not have to prove their employer was negligent in order to obtain benefits. In exchange, workers cannot file personal injury suits against their employer or any co-workers.

On construction sites, however, there are often multiple companies involved. The landowner, another contractor, a subcontractor, a vendor, a supplier or any other company involved in the project could potentially be responsible for the injuries, depending on the situation. If a party besides his employer or coworkers was negligent and that negligence led to the injury, this worker could have a legitimate personal injury claim against that party.