Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation known as Carlos’ Law, amending a New York State penal law. This law increases the penalties for construction employers who are liable for an employee’s death or severe injury. Increasing penalties that corporations can face adds another layer of accountability for safety protocols on construction sites.
If you sustained an injury on a construction site because of your employer, you deserve justice. The experienced attorneys of Finz & Finz, P.C. understand New York Law and can work to get you the compensation you deserve.
To discuss your legal options, contact us for a free case evaluation at (855) TOP-FIRM.
Who Is Carlos’ Law Named After?
In 2015, Carlos Moncayo, a 22-year-old laborer, was working at a construction site in New York City when he died. On the day of the incident, Carlos was working in a trench over six feet deep that required protective systems to prevent cave-ins. No such protective system was in place, and the trench walls collapsed, burying him alive.
Investigation into the incident revealed that Carlos’ employer knew about the dangerous conditions. It also found that the site had received citations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Some of the citations were for inadequate safety measures for excavation and failing to give workers proper protective equipment.
The court held the contractor responsible for Carlos’ death. However, he was only required to pay $10,000 in penalties, the maximum fine under New York law at the time.
How Common Are Construction Site Deaths?
One recent year, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health estimated that construction site deaths account for 24 percent of all workers’ deaths in New York State. As a result, construction deaths accounted for 41 deaths in the same year.
What Does Carlos’ Law Do?
Carlos’ Law amends New York law to increase the penalties for corporations liable for construction site injuries and deaths. Under the bill, a corporation that causes death or serious injury to an employee is guilty when:
- They failed to perform a duty imposed on them by law; or
- The negligent behavior is allowed or tolerated by anyone in a position of authority within the corporation; or
- An agent of the corporation acting within their scope of employment commits a misdemeanor or violation of the law.
If a corporation is guilty of a felony for one of these reasons, the court must impose a fine between $500,000 and $1 million. If the corporation is guilty of a class A misdemeanor, the court must find business between $300,000 and $500,000.
The increases greatly affect corporate responsibility because the previous maximum fine was $10,000. As a result, this bill could induce corporations to improve their safety protocols to ensure they don’t have to pay penalties under this law.
How Carlos’ Law Helps All Workers
While the inspiration for the bill was a death at a construction site, nothing in the bill limits it to construction incidents. As a result, Carlos’ law can help workers in any industry.
If you are not a construction worker and your employer’s failure to follow safety protocols caused serious injury or death. New York could impose criminal penalties under Carlos’ law.
What Is the Serious Injury Threshold in New York?
Carlos’ law only applies to death or serious injury, so it is important to understand what constitutes a serious injury in New York. Under New York law, a serious injury means an injury that results in:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use or impairment of an organ or system
- Permanent limitation of use of an organ
- Medically determined injury or impairment that prevents you from performing your usual daily activities. This limitation must last at least 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the injury.
If your injury meets any of these criteria, it is a serious injury, and the penalties of Carlos’ law may apply.
Can I Also Sue My Employer for Compensation?
Typically, you cannot sue your employer for your workplace injury. However, there are exceptions, such as:
- When your employer intentionally caused your injury, or
- A third party, such as a subcontractor, caused your injury.
Suing your employer can be complex, depending on the circumstances of your case. But if you successfully sue your employer, you may receive compensation.
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you were injured in a workplace accident caused by your employer’s negligence, an experienced attorney can help in several ways, including:
- Investigating the incident: An attorney will review the facts of your case and thoroughly investigate. During the investigation, your attorney may gather evidence and interview witnesses to build a strong case.
- Determining liability: By reviewing the facts of your case and identifying all potentially liable parties, your attorney can determine who is responsible for your injuries.
- Determining the value of your case: By reviewing your losses and using expert witnesses, an attorney can determine the value of your case.
- Negotiating a settlement: An attorney can negotiate with other parties on your behalf. Having an attorney negotiate on your behalf can make a substantial difference in the compensation you receive for your case.
- Preparing for trial, if necessary: If your case goes to trial, an attorney can represent you. This representation would include presenting evidence and arguing for your rights.
- Providing guidance and support: Injuries can be physically and emotionally daunting. An attorney can provide guidance and support by answering your questions and informing you about your case.
Overall, an attorney can help you navigate the complexities of a workplace injury case. When you’re injured at work, it is crucial to seek legal guidance immediately to protect your rights and preserve your legal options.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you were injured at your workplace and your employer was responsible, we can help. Our Finz & Finz, P.C. attorneys understand the emotional and physical trauma you may be experiencing after a workplace injury. We can provide the support and legal guidance you need to protect your interests.
Using our experience and skills, we can help protect your interests. Contact us today at (855) TOP-FIRM to discuss your case during a free and confidential consultation.