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Murder Charged in Queens Workers Compensation Death Claim

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Long Island man was charged with criminally negligent homicide last week for the death of a co-worker on a Queens construction site. Both men were employees of an electrical contractor in Forest Hills. According to the article in Newsday, the employee who died was on the forks of a forklift being driven by the employee now being charged with murder. The dead employee was hit by a piece of concrete in the chest. Police sources indicate that the employees may have been engaged in “horseplay”. This was the second Queens workers compensation death claim in the past week.
Several points: 1) in the last year, forklift accidents have been on the rise in my office. Whether it is due to negligent operation or a manufacturing defect, these steel behemoths can be deadly. Be careful when you hear them beeping up the aisles at your local Home Depot!; 2) even when employees are engaged in “horseplay”, they may still have viable workers compensation and Labor Law 200, 240 or 241 claims. New York State Labor Law allows the injured worker to sue the general contractor or owner of the property at a construction site. Based upon the facts presented in Newsday, I would investigate both the workers compensation and the Labor Law claims in this tragic accident; 3) Hats off to New York‚Äôs Finest, the NYPD, for charging this potential crime. Many jurisdictions would have chalked it up as only a tragic accident. Let‚Äôs hope Queens District Attorney Richard Brown takes workplace safety seriously and prosecutes the defendant to the full extent of the law. Accidents on New York City construction sites are a major problem. Prosecutions like this will go a long way to promoting safer working conditions on construction sites.

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