Patrick Cobbs Injured, David Johnson Killed In Jamaica, Queens Construction Accident After Wall Collapse At 94th Avenue By Sutphin Boulevard
QUEENS, NEW YORK (February 21, 2020) – A 44-year-old construction worker identified as Patrick Cobbs was seriously injured and his coworker David Johnson was tragically killed in a building collapse accident at a Jamaica construction site at 94th Avenue.
New York Police Department officials are saying that the construction accident took place around 11:45 a.m. on Thursday. Both Patrick Cobbs and David Johnson were on the second floor of the structure when it collapsed.
Paramedics were called to the scene of the accident in order to help both of the victims. Patrick Cobbs was taken to the Jamaica Hospital with serious injuries. He was treated for a broken back, a broken leg, a broken hip and a broken leg.
His family has been outraged by the accident and is demanding that the construction company responsible be held to account for their actions. Despite life-saving measures David Johnson later died from his injuries after being hit by falling concrete.
Family members of the victims are saying that there were non-union workers at the site and that the building was unsafe. The Department of Buildings (DOB) issued a stop work order and are currently conducting an investigation.
The DOB issued the following statement after the wall collapse. “We want to assure the families of the victims that we will hold all responsible parties accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Liability In Jamaica, Queens Wall Collapse Accidents
Construction site demolitions pose a number of unique hazards to workers. Companies are incentivized to complete demolitions as quickly and efficiently as possible and this often leads to disastrous results. According to Wan Zaharuddin, School of Architecture and Building, Deakin University, “Building demolition, as compared to building construction is always carried out as quickly and cheaply as possible. The nature of limited time and resources of the demolition project sometimes translate into poor work planning and safety precautions.” The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outlines a number of safety standards that employers must follow in order to make sure that demolitions are conducted safely.
- 1926.501, Duty to have fall protection.
- 1926.502, Fall protection systems criteria and practices.
- 1926.503, Training requirements.
- 1926.853, Removal of materials through floor openings.
- 1926.854, Removal of walls, masonry sections, and chimneys.
- 1926.855, Manual removal of floors.
- 1926.856, Removal of walls, floors, and material with equipment.
Falls and being struck by objects the leading causes of workplace injury and death in the construction injury. They are so common, in fact, that OSHA has categorized them as part of a “Fatal Four” types of accidents. Over 80% of all demolition related injuries were initially caused by collapses or falls. By simply following required safety protocol it is estimated that nearly 600 worker lives could be saved every year. There are a number of reasons that a structure may prematurely collapse including:
- Contractors may not fully understand the structural principles of a building
- Contractors may fail to understand how removal of key parts of a structure affect its integrity
- Poor communication between workers can lead to safety lapses
- Human error with heavy machinery can prematurely cause a collapse
Demolishing a building requires skill and thoughtful execution. Engineers should be present and consulted about how to avoid unintentionally destabilizing a building. Ultimately, keeping workers safe is a team effort and requires collaboration from both private and government agencies. According to Chunlu Liu, School of Architecture and Building, Deakin University, “Collective measures from governing agencies, industry, demolition companies and workers are very [important] to avoid [accidents] from happening.” Companies that fail to take measures to keep workers safe may face fines or even criminal liability depending on how egregious their conduct was. Victims of building collapse accidents tend to suffer very serious injuries including:
- Broken bones
- Head trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
- Organ damage
All construction companies have a legal responsibility to maintain work sites in a reasonably safe manner in order to avoid accidents. According to the New York State Bar, “A person or entity “in control” of property has a duty, under New York law: “to use reasonable care to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition for the protection of all persons whose presence is reasonably foreseeable.” There are special protections afforded to workers who are injured in falls or who are struck by falling objects.
Property owners and general contractors are held strictly liable for gravity related accidents under New York Labor Law § 240(1). It applies to workers who either fall from a qualifying “structure” or who are hit by a falling object. Under the statute, liability is assumed when a worker is injured from a fall. The law, however, does not apply to instances where a worker falls from a single family residence. Any person that is injured in a construction related fall may be able to seek relief for lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. This also applies to the family of any worker that may have died as a result of their injuries. A construction accident attorney can examine all of the facts of your case free of cost and get you the answers that you deserve about what went wrong.
Investigating A Queens Construction Site Accident
We at Pulvers, Pulvers & Thompson extend our deepest condolences to the family of David Johnson as they are going through such a difficult time. It is our sincere hope that Patrick Cobbs will be able to make a full recovery. This was a preventable and senseless tragedy that should not have happened. There needs to be a thorough investigation into all of the contractors doing work at this construction site. Did they follow OSHA safety protocol? Were engineers consulted on this project? There needs to be some accountability for what happened for the sake of the victims and their families. As construction accident attorneys and consumer safety advocates it is our sincere hope that measures are put in place to prevent additional accidents like this. No worker should ever have to show up to their job in fear for their own safety.