As a result of a fatal accident in Manhattan in 2015, a 22-year-old man was buried in a trench that had not been reinforced. The man’s construction company was being convicted of manslaughter as well as negligent homicide.
In response to this, Senator Jose Peralta is working to get a straight up or down vote on Carlos’ Law, named after the worker who died. Officially known as S.4373B, this law would lead to increased fines and penalties for developers who ignore safety protocols and thus directly contribute to the injury or death of a construction worker.
In addition to Senator Peralta, six other senators have cosponsored this bill. According to Senator Peralta, the primary concern is that workers are dying or that they are injured too frequently at work.
Carlos’ Law, if enacted, would apply in circumstances when death or serious injury is shown to be the result of criminal conduct. Currently, the maximum fine for felony convictions is $10,000. If the law passes, it would be increased to $500,000. Misdemeanors would go from the current fine of $5,000 to $300,000. Senators who cosigned this bill believe that the hikes in fees are necessary so that the fees are in harmony with the cost of doing business.
Peralta commented that approximately 500 workers have been killed at New York construction sites over the last 10 years. He discussed how improving safety is of special interest to the Hispanic community.
Accidents in construction can be caused by negligence on the part of the contractor or on the part of a manufacturer of a defective tool or piece of equipment. When a construction worker is injured because of the negligence of others, a personal injury lawyer may be able to work with them to evaluate the civil claim. Using eyewitness accounts, accident reconstruction and camera footage may help to negotiate a settlement with the responsible party.