Workers' Compensation Attorneys

in New York City

Tunnel Worker Injuries

A Tunnel Worker Injury Lawyer in New York Who Cares About Your Rights

Digging tunnels is brutal work, especially in and around New York City. Excavating, drilling, blasting rock, pouring concrete—it’s all part of the job for sandhogs, as tunnel-diggers are called, whether it’s a water tunnel or underground tunnel that the MTA is building. Because of the constant risks of being exposed to dust, gases, particles, diesel exhaust, falling concrete and defective power tools, tunnel work injuries and fatalities frequently occur, sometimes in a catastrophic tunnel accident or over time in the form of respiratory illnesses. As dedicated personal injury attorneys representing hurt tunnel diggers for over 80 years, we’ve seen the damage this type of dangerous underground job environment does to these hard-working New Yorkers.

If You Have Breathing Problems and Inflamed Lungs Due to Tunnel Silicosis, Call Us!

Some of the most tragic, but increasingly common tunnel worker injuries are life-threatening lung illnesses, including silicosis, which is a form of the occupational lung disease pneumoconiosis, with similar symptoms as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In a report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, CPOD was present in 14% of the tunnel workers studied. A condition that affects lung function and breathing, CPOD is a symptom of silicosis, a tunnel worker illness that sandhogs get from inhaling silica dust, which comes from drilling rockbeds and sandstone. Silicosis is caused by particles of silica dust that are trapped in alveoli (small sacs) in the lungs, resulting in inflamed lymph nodes and fluid in the lungs, making breathing difficult and lowering blood oxygen levels. It can lead to progressive massive fibrosis, which causes severe lung scarring, and tuberculosis.

Silicosis Has Been Killing Tunnel Diggers Since Our Law Firm Began Representing Workers

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from inhalation of silica-containing dust can occur after a few months’ exposure. The disease was first documented in the early 1930s when over 30% of tunnel workers died from silicosis after exposure to crystalline silica dust while boring through Gauley Mountain. Despite the long history of tunnel job lung diseases—since Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano first opened its doors 80 years ago—even some silicosis victims have their workers compensation claim denied. Workers compensation insurance companies will insist the worker’s breathing problems are due to pre-existing conditions, despite documented silica overexposure.

In addition to lung problems, tunnel diggers throughout New York also suffer broken bones, back injury, shoulder and neck injury, knee injuries, and injuries requiring surgery due to collapsing tunnels or other tunnel accidents. Recently, a sandhog was killed when a block of concrete fell on him as he was working on a tunnel under Manhattan that connects the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal. A member of Local 147, he died in the tunnel while working for the same contractor that was being inspected for an underground accident in which a rail car ran into a mechanical lift.

Every Day, Tunnel Workers Risk Pulmonary Disease, Falling Concrete, Faulty Equipment and Flooding

If you’re a sandhog with silicosis, a lung disease, asthma or other breathing illness due to tunnel work, or if you were hurt in a tunnel accident, call us toll-free at (800) 692-3717 or contact us online for a free evaluation. And if you lost a loved one who died due to tunnel work wrongful death, we deeply sympathize and encourage you to contact us so we can help you recover financially, particularly if you’ve lost the sole breadwinner of the family. We have been representing union members since we opened our doors and can help you, too.