How New York’s Carlos’ Law May Affect Wrongful Death Claims

Lever & Ecker, PLLC May 8, 2023 Construction Accidents

Construction sites are often hazardous places to work, and unfortunately, accidents resulting in the death of a worker are not uncommon. In response to a tragic incident that occurred in 2015, the New York State Senate recently enacted “Carlos’ Law” to increase fines for contractors and developers who violate workplace safety regulations and cause the death of a worker. While this law is a very positive step towards improving workplace safety, it may have unintended consequences for those pursuing a wrongful death claim following a construction site accident. 

When a construction site accident results in wrongful death, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney. At Lever & Ecker, PLLC, we can navigate legal matters and ensure that your rights are protected. Contact our firm today to learn more about how we can pursue deserved compensation for your losses.

New York’s Carlos’ Law

Construction sites are inherently dangerous places, and accidents resulting in the death of a worker are unfortunately not uncommon. In New York State, the Senate recently enacted “Carlos’ Law” to increase the fines imposed on contractors and developers who violate workplace safety regulations and cause the death of a worker. This new law may affect those pursuing a wrongful death claim following a construction site accident.

The law is named after Carlos Moncayo, a construction worker who died in 2015 after being buried alive in a trench collapse at a Manhattan work site. His employer, Harco Construction, was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to pay a $10,000 fine. The very low fine sparked outrage among worker advocacy groups and prompted lawmakers to take action.

Under Carlos’ Law, contractors and developers can now be fined up to $500,000 for willful or repeated violations of workplace safety regulations resulting in the death of a worker. This represents a significant increase from the previous maximum fine of $10,000. The law also increases fines for other workplace safety violations, such as failing to provide proper protective equipment, from $5,000 to $50,000.

What Impact Does Carlos’ Law Have on New York’s Wrongful Death Claims?

On the surface, Carlos’ Law seems like a positive step towards improving workplace safety and holding contractors and developers accountable for their actions. However, it may have unintended consequences for those pursuing a wrongful death claim.

Criminal vs. Civil Claims

One potential issue is that the higher fines may lead to a shift in focus from criminal prosecutions to civil claims. Contractors and developers may be more willing to pay a fine than face criminal charges, which could result in a decrease in criminal prosecutions for workplace safety violations. This, in turn, could make it more difficult for families of deceased workers to pursue justice through the criminal justice system.

Larger Fines May Impact Civil Suits

Another concern is that the higher fines may make it more difficult for families to recover damages in a wrongful death claim. When a construction worker dies on the job, their family may be entitled to compensation for their loss, in a wrongful death lawsuit. However, if the contractor or developer responsible for the death is facing a large fine, they may be less willing to settle the wrongful death claim for a significant amount of money. This could make it more difficult for families to secure compensation for the death of their loved ones.

Carlos’ Law Applies to Willful or Repeated Violations Only

It is also worth noting that Carlos’ Law only applies to willful or repeated violations of workplace safety regulations. If the contractor or developer responsible for the death of a worker did not commit a willful or repeated violation, they might not be subject to the higher fines imposed by the law. This could potentially limit the scope of the law’s impact and leave some families without the justice they deserve.

Despite these potential concerns, Carlos’ Law is an important step towards improving workplace safety and holding contractors and developers accountable for their actions. It sends a message that worker safety should be a top priority and that those who disregard workplace safety regulations will face significant consequences.

If you are pursuing a wrongful death claim following a construction site accident, it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can navigate the legal landscape and ensure that your rights are protected. An attorney can determine the best course of action to pursue justice for your loved one, whether that involves a criminal prosecution or a civil claim.

Speak With a Professional Wrongful Death Attorney Today

While Carlos’ Law may have unintended consequences for those pursuing a wrongful death claim, it is ultimately a positive step towards improving workplace safety and holding contractors and developers accountable for their actions. Families of deceased workers should work with an experienced attorney to ensure their rights are protected and they get the justice they deserve.

Work with experienced and award-winning attorneys who can provide the guidance and support you need. At Lever & Ecker, PLLC, our lawyers have over 65 years of combined legal experience and are dedicated to fighting for our clients. We are prepared to go to trial if that is what it takes to recover your due compensation. Contact us today at (718) 933-3632, (914) 288-9191, or through our contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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