How Long Does a Construction Accident Case Take?
After a construction worker is injured in a construction site accident, hopefully the construction worker will contact a lawyer immediately. However, sometimes an injured construction worker or the construction worker’s family may wait months or longer until the majority of medical treatment is over.
Calling a construction accident lawyer immediately and moving the case faster will allow the construction worker to obtain more money. An injured construction worker will likely encounter serious financial difficulties and after years of delays will consider accepting a smaller settlement offer because of the urgent need for money.
A construction accident case in New York often takes many years but it doesn’t have to. If the case is properly handled, it can be moved quickly, forcing the insurance company to offer a much larger settlement or result in a trial years earlier.
The proper method to speed up a construction accident case
Send a construction expert to the accident site immediately to obtain a report of all New York statutes and OSHA violations.
File suit immediately. Unlike other accidents, the full extent of injuries from construction accidents are sufficiently and immediately known to complete a Bill of Particulars.
The complaint should indicate the name and address of the injured plaintiff’s employer so the defendant property owner can immediately implead other parties.
Failure to advise defendants in the complaint of the employer’s name and address will result in a late impleader, possibly even on the eve of trial, which could delay the case for years. This is the best delay tactic the defendant has.
The Bill of Particulars should be prepared and served immediately upon receipt of the defendant’s Answer. Lawyers often wait to file the bill of particulars until the client’s medical treatment has nearly finished and all of the injuries are revealed. Workers injured in construction accidents usually have injuries that are immediately obvious, such as a broken bone or worse, and there is no need to wait to file the bill of particulars.
A Preliminary Conference should be requested immediately and depositions should be entered in the Preliminary Conference Order to be held as soon as possible. The defendant’s insurance company attorney should never be allowed to enter “as per NY CPLR” in the Preliminary Conference Order in the Impleader paragraph. This will allow the defendant to implead a third-party at any time, even on the eve of trial. No more than 60 days after the completion of depositions should be allowed to implead a third party.
The plaintiff should be deposed on the date stated in the Preliminary Conference Order regardless of whether the defendant is available.
A motion for Summary Judgment on liability should be filed immediately after completion of the plaintiff’s deposition. Summary Judgment in New York will entitle the injured construction worker to 9% interest on any settlement or award after trial or arbitration. Summary Judgment will also prevent the defendant from avoiding any liability at the time of trial and will allow the case to proceed immediately to a trial on damages. Obviously, this will substantially speed up your case and force the defendant’s insurance company to consider paying the entire policy or immediately settling for more money.
Many attorneys are unfamiliar with the procedure for for filing the Notice of Entry of Judgment. Particular attention should be paid to this procedure.
Impleader/Severance – If a defendant impleads a third-party later in the case, the plaintiff should move for severance of the trial to avoid substantial delay and prejudice to the plaintiff. Since the construction worker’s employer’s name and address was included in the complaint, the construction site owner and general contractor defendants cannot claim lack of notice.
Lifecare Plan – We order a lifecare plan early in the case for every construction accident case. A lifecare plan will document future medical economic damages and can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars in value to a case. Most attorneys do not utilize lifecare plans without catastrophic injuries and when attorneys order a lifecare plan it is usually later in the case. Ordering the lifecare plan early will push the insurance company to offer the entire policy early on in the case.
Economist – An economist will document future lost income over the lifespan of the construction worker. As with the lifecare plan, retaining an economist early in the case will help to force the insurance company to offer their entire insurance policy early in the case.
Alternative Dispute Resolution – Additional methods to speed up a construction accident case may include mediation or arbitration. These methods are known as alternative dispute resolution and can substantially speed up any case. However, we usually refuse to participate in mediation or arbitration if we have won Summary Judgment which can often happen in a construction accident case. With Summary Judgment, you are entitled to 9% interest on the money the insurance company will have to pay you and we can often obtain the entire policy without resorting to mediation or arbitration.
Call attorneys Phil Franckel and Rob Plevy for a free consultation so we can discuss your accident, injury and how we can help you.