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Working in construction poses a high risk to individuals due to the nature of the job, a risk that’s much higher than in any other industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one in five workplace deaths occurred in the construction industry. Just over one-third of construction deaths were due to falls, slips, and trips. From these, almost all were from falls to a lower level. Plus, the construction industry accounted for 46.2 percent of all fatal falls, slips, and trips in 2021.
If you were affected in any way by a construction accident, then counting on legal support is a must-have. As we will explore in this guide, there are many factors that can impact your compensation claims. Keep reading to learn more.
In the high-risk environment of construction work, accidents are an unfortunate reality. From falls and struck-by-object incidents to electrocutions, here are some of the most common accidents in the construction industry and their impact on workers.
Falls from heights, such as ladders, scaffolding, or roofs, are a leading cause of injuries in the construction industry. Lack of fall protection or improper use of safety equipment can contribute to these incidents.
Electrical work is prevalent on construction sites, and workers may face the risk of electrocution. Contact with live wires, faulty equipment, or inadequate training can contribute to electrical injuries.
Hot surfaces are also very common in construction sites and without proper safety measures, workers can get simple or severe burns. These can be a result of welding, cutting, or simply manipulating hot materials. Chemical burns from exposure to corrosive substances are also possible on construction sites.
Depending on the construction site, there can be heavy machinery and vehicles that can easily harm a person. Accidents involving forklifts, cranes, or other machinery can lead to serious injuries, including amputations or fractures. For this reason, only highly capacitated individuals should operate these machines.
The physical demands of lifting, carrying, and repetitive motions can result in muscle strains and sprains. Improper lifting techniques or lack of ergonomic considerations contribute to these injuries. When it comes to heavy lifting, the back is one of the most affected body parts, potentially leading to lifelong pain.
Construction sites are filled with heavy machinery, tools, and materials. Workers may be struck by falling objects, tools, or equipment, leading to injuries such as fractures, concussions, or lacerations. In most construction sites, there is height in some capacity involved, making this an unfortunately common occurrence.
The physical nature of construction work can lead to repetitive motion injuries. This means that doing very repetitive tasks like carrying a heavy weight or welding in an uncomfortable position for a long time, can lead to an injury. For example, continuous strain on muscles and joints may result in conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis.
Construction workers may be exposed to hazardous substances such as asbestos, lead, or toxic chemicals. Prolonged exposure can lead to respiratory problems, poisoning, or long-term health issues.
Working in trenches or excavations poses risks of collapses or cave-ins. Construction workers may suffer injuries such as suffocation, fractures, or crush injuries in these incidents.
In most cases, construction workers do their jobs outside exposed to the sun and the elements. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures without adequate hydration and breaks can lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Plus, if the worker suffers from this condition while on a dangerous platform, it can result in even more serious injuries like a fall.
Construction sites are noisy environments with heavy machinery and equipment. Prolonged exposure to high levels of noise without proper ear protection can cause workers to lose hearing, which has a large negative effect on people’s well-being.
Inhaling large amounts of dust, fumes, and airborne particles is a common way to develop respiratory issues. Some of these possible issues include silicosis or asthma.
Lack of proper training on the use of equipment, safety protocols, or emergency procedures can contribute to accidents and injuries, not only to the operator but also to other people.
These are the most common types of injuries that result from the accidents mentioned above:
Understanding why construction accidents happen is key to making construction sites safer for everyone. Not only that, this knowledge can also be crucial for building a legal case to get maximum compensation. Here are some of the most common causes of construction accidents.
Inadequate training on safety protocols and procedures increases the likelihood of accidents. Proper training is one of the most important strategies for the prevention of falls, proper tool usage, and the correct operation of machinery.
Failure to provide or use essential PPE, such as hard hats, safety glasses, and harnesses, exposes workers to avoidable risks. Employers need to make sure equipment is always available.
Neglecting to maintain a safe work environment, including poorly secured scaffolding, unstable structures, and inadequate signage, contributes to accidents.
Malfunctioning tools or equipment due to poor maintenance increases the risk of accidents. Regular inspections and maintenance are crucial for ensuring worker safety.
Ineffective communication on construction sites can lead to misunderstandings, coordination issues, and ultimately, accidents. Having proper communication protocols and equipment can make it easier.
Considering all of the information above, these are some of the most important measures employers can implement to avoid accidents on their construction sites.
Implementing thorough safety training programs ensures that workers are well-versed in industry-specific risks and best practices.
Enforcing and adhering to safety regulations set by organizations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is essential for preventing accidents.
Conducting routine inspections of tools and equipment helps identify potential issues before they lead to accidents.
Emphasizing and enforcing the use of appropriate PPE ensures that workers are adequately protected on the job.
Establishing clear communication channels among workers, supervisors, and other parties involved reduces the risk of misunderstandings that can lead to accidents.
In the unfortunate event of a construction accident, taking immediate steps is key. Here are some examples of what to do if you suffer a construction accident.
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment. It is a no-fault system, meaning you are entitled to benefits regardless of who caused the accident.
Workers’ compensation typically covers all necessary medical treatments related to the construction accident. This includes hospitalization, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical care. The goal is to ensure that injured workers receive the medical attention they need to recover.
If a construction accident results in the inability to work, workers’ compensation could provide you with compensation for lost wages. This includes both past and future income lost due to the injury. You could also be eligible for disability benefits, as well as vocational rehabilitation.
If a third party, such as a contractor, subcontractor, or equipment manufacturer, is found to be liable for the construction accident, you can pursue a third-party liability claim. This claim may include compensation for medical expenses related to the injuries suffered. Similar to workers’ compensation, a successful third-party liability claim can provide compensation for lost wages, including past and future income lost due to the construction accident.
Unlike workers’ compensation, which focuses on economic losses, a third-party liability claim may include compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. This includes the physical and emotional distress experienced as a result of the construction accident. A construction accident can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. Loss of enjoyment of life compensation seeks to address the diminished quality of life resulting from the injuries sustained in the accident. In cases of gross negligence or intentional misconduct by the third party, punitive damages can also apply. Meaning the at-fault party could even receive criminal charges.
You can also look into filing a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party for your incident. Through a personal injury lawsuit, you can get compensation for past, current, and anticipated future medical costs. This includes compensation for lost wages, pain, and suffering damages, as well as loss of consortium.
Workers who suffer long-term disabilities as a result of a work accident may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. These monthly payments can give you financial support to manage your disability. Social Security disability recipients may also qualify for Medicare or Medicaid coverage.
In cases where a construction accident leads to a death, surviving family members may be entitled to compensation for funeral and burial expenses. Surviving spouses and dependents may also seek compensation for the loss of financial support resulting from the death of a loved one in a construction accident. Compensation for the loss of companionship, care, and guidance may be also available in wrongful death cases.
Going through a compensation case alone is not a good idea. Especially considering that you would be going against professionals whose job is to reduce the amount of compensation given, in the case of lawsuits. Here are some reasons why you should consider hiring a construction accident lawyer.
Legal Expertise: Construction accident cases can be complex, and can involve workers’ compensation laws, personal injury regulations, and in some cases third-party liability claims. This is why construction accident lawyers specialize in this knowledge ensuring that your case is approached strategically and advocating for the rights of the injured.
Legal Options: A construction accident lawyer conducts an evaluation of your case, so they can assess the circumstances surrounding your accident and identify the most viable option for your case. A lawyer’s guidance ensures you make an informed decision aligned with the specific needs of your case.
Defend Your Rights: Dealing with insurance companies, employers and opposing legal teams can be daunting, they will attempt to downplay liability or minimize the compensation owed to you. A construction accident lawyer serves as an advocate for your rights, ensuring that your interests are prioritized and protected through the legal process.
Knowledge of Workers’ Compensation Laws: Workers’ compensation laws vary by state and are designed to provide financial support for injured workers. A construction accident lawyer understands these laws ensuring that the compensation claims process is efficient. This includes maximizing the benefits available to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs.
Constructing a Case: Constructing a compelling case requires a meticulous investigation of the accident. A construction accident lawyer collaborates with investigators, reviews safety records, interviews witnesses, and examines relevant documentation. This comprehensive approach is crucial for establishing liability and demonstrating the extent of your injuries.
Identifying All Responsible Parties: Construction accidents often involve multiple parties, including contractors, subcontractors, equipment manufacturers, and property owners. A construction accident lawyer has the expertise to identify all potentially responsible parties. By casting a wide net, they maximize the chances of securing the full compensation you deserve to cover all losses related to the accident.
Protection Against Retaliation: Fear of retaliation can deter some individuals from pursuing their rightful compensation. A construction accident lawyer acts as a shield against potential employer retaliation for seeking compensation. They ensure that your pursuit of justice does not jeopardize your employment or future opportunities within the construction industry.
Focus on Your Recovery: Dealing with the aftermath of a construction accident is physically and emotionally demanding. By entrusting your legal matters to a construction accident lawyer, you can focus on your recovery and well-being. Knowing that a legal professional is handling the complexities of your case provides you peace of mind during that challenging period.
With 951 construction worker fatalities in 2021, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s clear that there is a need for comprehensive safety measures and legal support. Through training programs, strict adherence to safety regulations, and regular equipment inspections, workers can do their job in a safe environment.
If you or a family member suffered from a construction injury, there are various paths to get compensated for all damages. For example workers’ compensation, liability claims, social security, and personal injury lawsuits.
Employers and insurance companies commonly use tactics in order to not pay what they’re due. So, a lawyer can be a great asset. Not only for seeking compensation for immediate injuries but also for the long-term effects a construction accident can have on a victim and their family’s lives.