Over ten million people work in the construction industry throughout the United States. These workers put their lives on the line each day they work. The construction industry is the most dangerous one for workers. Statistics back up this contention. Roughly one in ten construction workers will suffer some injury on the job.
No matter what workers do to stay safe on the job, they can only do so much. Their employer, and everyone else on the site, must have a similar commitment to safety for each worker to come home unscathed every day. Safety precautions can prevent most construction site injuries.
The contractor and other companies that work at a construction site have their own profit motives. While they risk penalties from OSHA for violating workplace safety rules, employers often take shortcuts to make more money and stay on schedule. Some employers may take advantage of the law, which makes it difficult for injured workers to sue.
Some injured workers can file a third-party lawsuit against someone other than their employer. If you suffered an injury in a construction accident, seek legal help immediately from an experienced construction accident lawyer.
Here are some injuries that can allow you to file a lawsuit if you can find someone other than your employer to sue.
By far, falls are the most common cause of injuries at a construction site. Nearly half of construction site injuries are due to falls.
Workers may fall for several reasons:
- The scaffold on which they worked collapsed
- They slipped on a substance that was on the ground
- They were improperly secured or harnessed when working in the air
- They tripped on a piece of equipment or debris on the ground
- They did not receive proper training to use harnesses or work in the air
- The aerial bucket in which they were working tipped over
- They carried a load that was too heavy for them
Falls can cause serious injuries. When the fall is from height, the worker may not survive. Even when a construction worker slips and falls, they can strike their head, causing a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury.
Unfortunately, contractors do not consistently implement safety measures or follow OSHA rules regarding fall safety.
Anyone in the zone of a construction accident is potentially in danger, whether or not they are an employee. The level of activity in a construction area can endanger anyone, whether it involves using dangerous equipment or a large number of trucks in the area.
Here are some injuries that bystanders may suffer near a construction project:
- Slip and fall injuries, when someone left debris on a sidewalk near the area
- Struck-by injuries, when falling equipment or building materials hit them (crane collapses and falling debris are common examples of these accidents)
- Motor vehicle accident injuries, when they were in a crash with a work truck
- Burns, when there was an explosion nearby
- Illnesses, when the construction work exposed them to toxic substances
Passersby have no say in what happens at the construction site but pay the price when a contractor or their workers are careless. The contractor owes everyone in the area the duty of care, including passersby.
According to OSHA, construction site burns hospitalize over 5,000 workers yearly. Workers contact hot equipment and surfaces regularly. In addition, chemicals and other hazards at a work site can cause a fire.
Here are some of the common burn injuries at a construction site:
- Chemical burns – When soft tissue suffers exposure to corrosive chemical substances, a worker can suffer chemical burns. Chemical burns are medical emergencies, and they can be severe, depending on the strength of the chemical.
- Thermal burns – Are the most common form of burns that come from contact with a flame or heat. Workers can also suffer thermal burns from touching hot surfaces.
- Electrical burns – Workers who come into contact with a strong electrical current can suffer severe burns. Electrical burns are a common injury when a worker is electrocuted on the job.
Burns range in severity.
Third-degree burns will require extensive rehabilitation and skin grafts. Burn victims can suffer permanent deformities that can affect their ability to use limbs and their quality of life. Many cannot work again after their injury.
Fourth-degree burns are most often fatal.
Electrocutions and Electric Shock
A construction worker may suffer an electric shock-related injury
at a work site when:
- They may strike buried utilities that were improperly marked or surveyed
- They contact low-hanging power lines
- Ground wires may not have adequate covers
- Work equipment can malfunction
- Circuits on the construction site may become overloaded
Electrocutions and electric shock injuries are serious injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 61 percent of all workplace electricity related injuries
occur in the construction industry.
Electrocutions and electric shock can result in:
- Severe burns
- Nerve damage
- Loss of a limb
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Respiratory arrest
Injured workers can often find a third party to sue. For example, an electrical subcontractor can file a claim against the general contractor or the property owner. In some cases, the utility company may be liable for electrocution injuries.
Collapses are a frequent danger at a construction site. The most common type of collapse is in the soil. The engineers may not have appropriately surveyed the site before construction work began. Alternatively, negligent construction workers may have dug on the site and buried coworkers in a ground collapse.
The structure may collapse from improper construction or design, trapping workers in the rubble.
Another accident that can cause a crush injury is a caught-between. The worker can become trapped between the equipment and another hard area, such as a wall. They can also be pinned to the ground when a piece of equipment topples on them or runs them over.
Crush injuries are extremely serious. An injured worker can suffer crush syndrome for any type of crush injury. This life-threatening condition can result in organ failure (particularly the kidneys) or death. Crush injuries can also result in the amputation of a body part due to severe nerve damage.
Struck By Accidents
Falling debris is a common cause of injuries at a construction site. According to the Occupational Safety Hazard Administration, over 42,000 people suffer an injury from falling objects at construction sites each year. Even hard hats may not protect you from an object falling from far above.
Falling object accidents are dangerous because the object will gather force when it falls. For example, an eight-pound tool can reach 80 miles per hour when it falls from 200 feet. When it hits, it can strike with over 5,500 pounds of force. Even when an object falls from a lesser height, it will still gather significant momentum before it strikes. Even a lighter object, such as a walkie-talkie or a wrench, can cause serious injuries. The same thing goes for any debris, whether equipment or building materials.
There are numerous vehicles at or around the construction site. First, many trucks are heading to and from the area. The drivers may not be familiar with the area or the specifics of the construction site. They may crash with other drivers entering or exiting the construction site. Drivers may also run over construction workers at the site.
In addition, construction workers at the site may be injured by mechanized equipment, such as:
These pieces of equipment can topple over with the driver inside. They may also run over other workers on the construction site. The accidents can be the result of operator negligence or defective work equipment.
Potential Lawsuits for Construction Accident Injuries
As a construction worker, you have limitations on who you can sue after an accident. The workers’ compensation system will be your exclusive remedy if your employer caused the accident.
It does not matter whether your employer was careless or negligent. So long as they provide workers’ compensation insurance, they cannot face lawsuits by their employees in a personal injury case, but employees can seek benefits.
Accordingly, you will need to find a third party to sue. You will need evidence that a third party was negligent or reckless and was the cause of your injuries. Then, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against them.
You Can Get More Money When You Win a Lawsuit
Financial compensation is why your lawyer will try to find a third party to sue in your case. You will receive a bigger settlement check from a personal injury lawsuit than a workers’ compensation case. You can receive your total lost income for the rest of your career, as opposed to a portion for a limited time. Also, you can receive non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. If a loved one died in an accident, your family can file a wrongful death claim instead of having to receive only the workers’ compensation death benefit.
Third Parties Who You May Sue
Your lawyer will investigate the accident and review the circumstances to see if you can sue a third party.
Liable parties may include:
- Another contractor or subcontractor who was on the site who was not your employer
- The general contractor, if they negligently hired or retained a subcontractor
- The property owner in a premises liability case because they held their property out to construction workers who worked there for the benefit of that owner. There are limitations on this depending upon the type of property.
- The architect or engineer for the construction project
- The manufacturer of work tools or equipment that were defective and caused you injury (anyone in the stream of commerce, including stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, can be sued)
- Anyone who was involved and was responsible for your injury if you were a bystander who suffered an injury at the site
Your attorney can identify any liable parties outside your employment. They can gather evidence to prove negligence and determine the insurance coverage available. By pursuing a third-party lawsuit, you can often recover additional damages beyond what workers’ compensation provides, including pain and suffering, punitive damages, and loss of consortium.
Third-party lawsuits often require a thorough investigation, which can uncover evidence not initially relevant to your workers’ compensation claim. This evidence proves your claim and supports your claim for full compensation.
When considering suing a third party for a construction accident, consulting with a knowledgeable attorney is crucial. They can assess the circumstances, identify potential liable parties, and guide you through the legal process to seek the compensation you deserve.
You Need an Experienced Lawyer for a Construction Accident Lawsuit
A construction accident lawsuit can be very complex. Not only do you have to find the right party to sue, but you must also gather the evidence that shows that they were negligent. You will likely need witness and expert testimony that can recreate the accident. In addition, your lawyer will obtain evidence from the defendant through the discovery process.
Then, you will need to know the value of your damages when filing a lawsuit. Your potential settlement or jury award depends on the nature of your injuries. It is easier to say how much your case may be worth if you know more about the specifics of your situation.
You should contact a personal injury attorney in Long Island right after you have suffered an injury. If you cannot do it alone, a family member should reach out on your behalf. The days after a construction accident are when your lawyer can gather the best evidence. After that, witnesses may become harder to find, and some evidence may physically disappear. Act now.