New York Trench / Tunnel Collapse Injury Lawyer

A lot of construction workers spend their time elevated off of the ground. Others work below the ground, in trenches and tunnels. Working below-grade allow laborers to build structure foundations and lay necessary pipes, wires, and cables. While these trenches and tunnels are reinforced, accidents can still happen. When construction trenches collapse, the results can be devastating.

Every year, an average of two dozen construction workers are killed in excavation and trench collapse accidents. Hundreds more suffer severe and debilitating injuries. Many become claustrophobic and are haunted by the trauma of their accidents for the rest of their lives.

Have you or a loved one been injured in a New York City trench or tunnel collapse? If so, do not hesitate to contact the construction site accident lawyers at Mirman, Markovits & Landau, PC for immediate legal assistance. You may have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. Our experienced NYC personal injury lawyers will do everything we can to get you all of the money you need and deserve.

Your first consultation is free, so give our NYC law office a call to schedule yours today. We’re always available to take your call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You Deserve an Experienced NYC Trench Collapse Attorney

Pursuing compensation after you’ve been injured in a traumatic trench collapse is one of the most important things you’ll ever do. The money you get can help to pay for expensive medical bills, make up for lost wages, and compensate for your pain and suffering. Don’t trust just any injury law firm with your case. You deserve to work with an experienced firm who knows how to get things done in New York.

Since 1977,  Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C., has been fighting to help injured accident victims across New York City. Our personal injury lawyers have more than 200 years of combined experience. We don’t just practice law in New York; we’re from New York. We’re deeply involved in the community and care about our neighbors. If you get hurt, we’re here to help you fight for the money you deserve. 

When you turn to us for help after a trench collapse, we’ll go above and beyond to secure the financial compensation you deserve. We will:

  • Carefully investigate the circumstances surrounding your accident ot determine why it happened and who’s to blame.
  • Seek compensation from all liable parties.
  • Stand up to insurance companies when they attempt to drive down the value of your workers’ compensation claim.
  • Consult with NYC construction accident experts to better understand what your case is worth.


Our aggressive approach has helped us secure more than $1 Billion in settlements and verdicts for our clients over the years. Give us a quick call to schedule a free consultation to find out how we might be able to help you get the money you deserve, too. 

Causes of Trench and Tunnel Collapses in NYC

Working in trenches and tunnels is inherently dangerous. That’s why it’s critical for contractors, engineers, and architects to make sure that they design and execute site plans properly. Simple mistakes and errors – at any point in the construction process – can cause a devastating collapse. 

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), leading causes of trench and tunnel collapses include:

Unprotected and Unsupported Trenches

Trenches exceeding 5 feet in depth must utilize a protective system. Protective systems can include:

  • Sloping: cutting a trench wall at an angle
  • Shoring: installing aluminum hydraulic or other supports to minimize soil movement and collapse, and
  • Shielding: installing other supports, such as trench boxes, to prevent soil cave-ins.

Without a protective system, soil can shift and collapse on laborers working in a trench. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car. Workers trapped below in a collapse can suffocate or be crushed by the weight of the soil.

OSHA warns that it designing an adequate protective system can be complicated, and should be done by an experienced and qualified engineer. If a trench exceeds 20 feet in depth, the protective system must be designed or approved by a registered professional engineer.

Inadequate Inspections

Just because supports are installed doesn’t mean that a trench will always be safe. Supports can move over time, as can surrounding soil and earth. Trenches should be inspected on a daily basis by a competent person.

A thorough inspection will allow contractors to identify predictable hazards or dangerous working conditions. Unfortunately, some contractors cut corners and don’t perform these critical inspections. As a result, laborer safety is jeopardized.

No Access and Egress

Laborers working in excavation and trenching need to have a way to get in and out of a tunnel safely. Federal OSHA regulations require contractors to provide “safe access and egress to all excavations, including ladders, steps, ramps, or other safe means of exit” when a trench is 4 feet or deeper. A laborer should never be more than 25 feet away from an access or egress point while working.

Mistakes in Handling Spoil Piles

When a trench or tunnel is being excavated, soil has to be removed and relocated. The soil is put into what’s called a “spoil pile.” The spoil pile has to be placed far enough away from the tunnel or trench so that there’s no danger of it falling back into the excavated site while workers are below grade.  

Risks Involved in Working in a Trench or Tunnel

Just as there are risks involved in working elevated above the ground, there are also risks involved in working in trenches or tunnels in the earth. Cave-ins are a leading cause of trench accidents. As a result, trench accidents are typically categorized as “caught in-between” accidents, one of OSHA’s “Fatal Four” causes of injury and death among construction workers. 

However, there are other risks associated with working in a construction site trench or tunnel. These include:

  • Falls
  • Water accumulation
  • Drowning
  • Electrocution
  • Oxygen deprivation or depletion, and
  • Toxic fume inhalation.

Daily trench inspections can help to reduce or eliminate these risks. A competent person should ensure that protective measures are in place, the soil has not been displaced by rainwater or storms, and that egress points and equipment are still available.

Who’s Liable For My Injuries After a New York City Trench Collapse?

If you’re a construction worker in New York City who gets hurt on the job, you have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits. If you choose to file a claim, you’ll waive your right to sue your employer. In exchange, you’ll have the opportunity to recover benefits to compensate for medical expenses, lost income, and disability.

However, benefits will be limited in both amount and duration. It’s important to work with an experienced NYC construction accident attorney who is familiar with the workers’ compensation system and who knows how to maximize your recovery.

Just because you waive your right to sue your employer doesn’t mean you might not have a claim against someone else. In New York, you can potentially receive compensation from anyone who contributes to your trench accident. This might include:

  • Property owners
  • General contractors
  • Subcontractors
  • Architects
  • Engineers, or
  • Companies that sold or manufactured defective equipment.

It’s important to identify everyone who might share responsibility for your trench or tunnel accident. That’s why our legal team will thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the collapse. We’ll do our best to figure out the cause who allowed it to happen and caused you to get hurt.

When Do I Have to File an Injury Claim After a New York Trench Collapse?

We know that you’ve got a lot going on right now. You’re not just dealing with painful, debilitating physical injuries. You’re also trying to recover from an extremely traumatic event. However, don’t hesitate to assert your right to recover compensation. If you wait too long, you risk losing out on valuable compensation.

Workers’ Compensation: You have to notify your employer within 30 days of your trench collapse accident. Then you’ll have up to a year to file a formal request for workers’ compensation benefits.

Personal Injury Lawsuit: Generally speaking, the statute of limitations for trench and excavation accident lawsuits is three years. You’ll lose the right to demand the money you need if you don’t file your claim on time.

Wrongful Death: Has a loved one died in a NYC trench collapse? You’ll have two years from the date of their death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Call Our NYC Trench Collapse Lawyers

Excavation is a critical component of many construction projects. Laborers who work in trenches and tunnels put their lives on the line every day. When an accident or trench collapse accidents occur, the consequences can be devastating for you and your family.

If you’ve been hurt in a New York trench collapse, you might be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C. are here to help you fight for every dollar you need and deserve. 

Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation. Can’t make it into our office to discuss your case? Our attorneys will come ot you. We’ll visit you at home, at work, or at the hospital while you recover. All you have to do is give us a quick call. It’s that easy.