Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.

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construction workers must be protectedIn the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction industry faced a crisis that often went unnoticed amidst the chaos of the world. While most were concerned with the virus’s immediate impact, there was another silent epidemic silently plaguing the hardworking individuals in the construction sector – drug overdoses.

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has brought to the forefront a startling revelation: construction and extraction jobs topped the list with 162.6 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 workers during the first year of the pandemic. This staggering statistic is a wake-up call to the dire state of affairs within the construction industry.

The CDC report also revealed that the drug overdose rate in the United States increased steadily from 1999 to 2020. In 2021, the U.S. drug overdose rate was a shocking 50% higher than in 2019. While provisional data from 2022 showed a 2% drop in drug overdoses from the previous year, the construction industry still remains at the forefront of this crisis.

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excavation in the streets of New YorkAs construction accident attorneys who represent workers injured or killed in trench collapse, we have firsthand experience with the repercussions of disregarding safety guidelines during excavation. The hazards linked with excavation and trenching activities are no secret to construction workers either. In New York, a law known as “Carlos’ Law” was signed by Governor Hochul last December, which increases penalties for corporate criminal liability due to the death or serious injury of an employee, whether a felony or misdemeanor. This law allows for fines of up to $500,000 and was named after Carlos Moncayo, a 22-year-old construction worker who tragically died in a trench collapse at a Manhattan construction site. His employers ignored repeated warnings about the hazardous conditions.

One of the primary reasons why excavation and trenching activities pose significant danger is the weight of dirt

It is easy to underestimate how heavy soil can be, but the reality is that a single cubic yard of dirt can weigh as much as a mid-sized car. This weight makes excavating the earth a perilous task, especially when dealing with trenches – excavations that are deeper than they are wide. A single minor mistake or miscalculation can lead to disaster in a matter of seconds. Even a partial trench cave-in can have devastating consequences, including workers being crushed within seconds, even if parts of their upper bodies are above the ground.

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As NY construction accident attorneys, we commend Governor Kathy Hochul’s announcement to commemorate National Work Zone Awareness Week and launch an Automated Work Zone Speed Monitoring Pilot Program. The initiative is aimed at protecting highway workers and enforcing speed limits in construction and maintenance work zones along New York State highways.

Construction workers face numerous hazards, and one of the most dangerous is working in highway work zones. NY Highway workers are particularly vulnerable to accidents caused by speeding vehicles. The rise in work zone speed violations in recent years has resulted in numerous highway worker injuries and several deaths among state and contractor personnel. Therefore, this program is a step in the right direction in ensuring the safety of highway workers.

The Automated Work Zone Speed Monitoring pilot program was established by legislation signed into law by Governor Hochul. Under the program, all vehicles detected violating the posted speed limit within a work zone by over an established threshold will be fined.

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Lithium ion battery can be dangerousA 67 year old woman was critically injured in a fire sparked by a defective lithium-ion battery in Brooklyn, NYC yesterday early morning.

The victim was residing in a building located on Goodwin Place  in Bushwick and was probably asleep when the fire erupted around 1:40 am on Tuesday morning.  The fire started in an apartment that one of the tenants had transformed into a lithium battery repair shop. 50 lithium batteries were found there by the firefighters. It is not clear how many batteries exploded but the FDNY said that the fire sparked so fast and was so intense that the fire alarms and the sprinkler system which were working, were of no help.   When firefighters arrived, all 3 floors of the building were ravaged by the blaze. They were still able to find the victim but she was already in bad condition. Another victim suffered minor injuries. The tenant who was running the off-the-book repair shop was not home at the time of the explosion but had left several batteries to charge overnight.

The FDNY told the NY daily News that since the beginning of this year, they have been responding to an average of 3 fires caused by lithium batteries every week.

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3 pedestrians are in critical condition after a drunk driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into them in Jackson Heights, Queens, NYC.

The accident occurred around 4:20 am early Saturday morning at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and 86th Street. A video surveillance shows the 3 young men aged 25, 28 and 32, chatting at the corner of the intersection of the two streets when suddenly a SUV traveling at a high rate of speed lost control of his vehicle as he was trying to pass another car and slammed into the pedestrians.

The 23 year old driver of the SUV was taken into custody and is expected to be charged with DWI.

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patient transition can result in medical errorIn a recent study analyzing 5,270 medical malpractice claims related to medical events occurring between  2017 and 2019, Coverys, a company providing Medical malpractice Insurance, found that 210 of them were medical malpractice related to negligent care transition that led to an alleged medical error. While medical malpractice related to care transition only represents a small share of  all medical malpractice, they have a higher risk of resulting in severe injuries to patients and trigger claims that will result in payments of verdicts and settlements.

When a patient transitions from one healthcare provider to another, it can be difficult for the healthcare providers to proprely collaborate. Miscommunication can occur not only between people but also in the electronic medical records of the patient. Early or rushed discharge as well as not proprely informing the patient and his family about the transition process can also lead to medical errors.

Here are some of the most important findings of this study:

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A New York City assistant principal planned a sexual encounter with a 14 year old boy on Grindr and instead found himself facing an adult who filmed the encounter and uploaded it on Youtube. Earlier this year, 40 year old Claudio Garcia who works at Queens Technical High School in Long Island City as an assistant principal, was on Grindr and starting to chat with a boy who told him first that he was 18 but then said he was actually 14. Garcia then planned a meeting with him in a park that was supposedly near the boy’s Bronx house. When he arrived at the meeting, an adult man was there. The encounter was filmed and posted on YouTube.

The Police recently arrested Garcia and brought him to the 52nd Precinct to be questioned. He was then charged with attempted criminal sex act and disseminating indecent materials to minors.

Garcia was arraigned yesterday night in Bronx criminal court. While the DA consented to release Garcia without bail, Judge Audrey Stone ordered Garcia to be on supervised release. “Given the nature of Mr. Garcia’s status within the community and the very serious charges here, I believe supervised release at a minimum would be appropriate,” the judge said. “Mr. Garcia, I want to explain to you that I understand that the D.A.’s office is requesting release without any conditions, however, these are very significant changes.”

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A man suffered severe burns in a sidewalk explosion in Queens last week.

57 year old Barry West was heading to his T-mobile store to pay his cell phone bill when a Coned underground transformer exploded sending a ball of fire through the sidewalk grate. The man was engulfed in the flames before he was able to move to safety. He suffered second degree burns in multiple areas of his face and body and was immediately hospitalized.  The man was still in the hospital a week after the accident. He told the NY Daily News that the explosion just came from nowhere. He felt he lost a lot of skin and was in so much pain that he could not work.

A similar explosion occurred at the same location exactly one day earlier and partially destroyed the front of a pizzeria next door  (read more and see video of the accident in the NY Daily News).

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Pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities were lower than usual last February and so were motorcyclist, bus and truck accidents.

Traffic Accident injuries reached a record low in New York City in January and February. While February car accident injuries always reach a yearly low, the number of NYC car accident injuries was at its lowest since Vision Zero started. 2,503 people were injured in traffic accidents in New York City compared to 3,028 a month earlier and 4,006 in February 2020. The number of traffic accident injuries mostly dropped over the last 12 months because of the Covid19 crisis that affected the City and slow down activities. (click on graphs for full sizes)

Traffic Accident Injuries NYC February 2021
Motor vehicle accident injuries in NYC in February 2021 by category
After reaching annual record highs over the summer of 2020, the number of New York auto accident deaths also declined and stabilized to numbers somewhat similar to previous years despite the slowdown. 10 people died in traffic accidents last February compared to 13 in January and 17 in February 2020.  Since Vision Zero was launched in 2014, the number of traffic accident fatalities in February has been oscillating between 17 and 10 with 10 last month being the lowest. Fatalities were mostly pedestrian fatalities.

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carbon monoxide danger signA woman and two children suffered carbon monoxide poisoning last week in Dix Hills, Suffolk County, NY. The accident occurred at a residential home located on Pineland Court.  A crew of workers were doing some roofing work while a mother and her two children were inside the house. The roofers used a generator that was positioned too close to the door causing fumes to get in the house and poisoned the family. The woman and the two children started to get really dizzy and she called 911. When EMS arrived the 3 of them could not walk anymore and firefighters found a vey high level of carbon monoxide in the house. The mother and her children were transported to the hospital to be treated.

The silent killer

Carbon Monoxide is an invisible gas that has no smell and no color and therefore is  very hard to detect by human. It is deadly. Firefighters nickname it “the silent killer”.  This why in New York State, it is required by law that any house or apartment with at least one fuel-burning appliance or heater has working carbon monoxide detectors installed. The following precautions should be taken to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning: