The construction business is fraught with opportunities for accidents to happen. In fact, workplace accidents at construction sites account for a fifth of the total number of workplace accidents in the United States. Workers work with potentially dangerous tools and machinery and could fall from scaffolding.
It’s not only the workers who are at risk, pedestrians and bystanders can also get hurt due to falling debris. Construction companies must ensure that their workers are equipped with proper protective gear and that their machinery and equipment is in good working order. They must conform to the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The most common construction accidents
OSHA has identified four types of accidents that account for 60% of fatal accidents in construction. These are:
- Struck by an object
- Caught in-betweens
Electrocution accounted for 10% of fatal construction accidents in 2010. The result of electrocution is often severe and very painful. Not only does the injured person suffer major skin burns, but the electric current can also affect internal tissues and organs. It can lead to heart failure or damage to the central nervous system.
Around 35% of construction fatalities are due to falls. Negligence in terms of the safety of scaffolding, ladders and fall protection are some of the most common reasons why fall accidents occur on construction sites.
Another 10% of worker fatalities are struck by object accidents. This could be due to swinging, falling, flying or rolling objects and can happen at any time at a construction site. Construction companies need to train their employees to identify possible safety hazards in which they may possibly get hurt by a moving object. Often times, this is due to collapsing structures and falling materials.
Caught in-between accidents occur when a worker’s injuries are the result of being crushed between two objects. A worker can be caught between pieces of debris after a structure has collapsed or a heavy piece of construction material can break loose, crushing the worker. There are many ways in which a caught in-between accident can occur on a construction site and this is not always due to negligence on anyone’s part. Yet, the construction site owners are responsible for the workers safety on their sites and compensation can be claimed to take care of medical and other expenses after a caught in-between accident. As the accident can often cause severe injuries, the payout from workers’ compensation may not be enough to cover medical bills and lost wages. In such a case it may be worthwhile to contact a personal injury lawyer to help claim a larger compensation payout.
Other common accidents are:
- Crane accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Scaffolding accidents
- Welding rod accidents
- Dangerous or defective equipment accidents
- Hazardous waste exposure
- Hearing loss
In 2012, 183,000 construction workers were injured of which 775 accidents were fatal. All workers who have been injured in an accident on a construction site, despite the severity of their injuries are entitled to compensation. As these injuries occurred at work, the injured worker would be able to claim compensation through workers’ compensation, even if the construction company wasn’t at fault. Personal injury suits often recover more compensation for injuries and damages suffered; it is the employee’s prerogative whether he wants to claim compensation via workers’ compensation or whether he would want to claim a larger amount through a personal injury lawsuit with a personal injury lawyer.
Workers’ compensation cases can be filed if the injured worker wants to claim compensation from a sub-contractor, but if the case is against a manufacturer of, for example, faulty machinery, the compensation would be claimed in a civil personal injury suit.
Special laws for construction accidents
Since construction accidents happen so often, the New York State laws allow for additional protection to construction workers who get injured on site, making it easier to claim for compensation for injuries sustained on a construction site. New York State’s Industrial Code and the Federal OSHA regulations force construction companies to create a safe environment for construction workers, but sadly, most construction workers injuries are due to violations of these codes and regulations.
When to file a personal injury complaint
There are several reasons why you would want to file a personal injury complaint in a civil case instead of claiming compensation through workers’ compensation. As mentioned before, workers’ compensation often pays out less than what you can get out through a personal injury case. Furthermore, if your injury was due to negligence on behalf of a supervisor or manufacturing company, you claim additional compensation by suing them in a civil lawsuit. If the accident was fatal, family members or the representative of the worker’s estate can file a case of wrongful death if the accident was due to negligence.
Remember that if you want to sue the construction company or sub-contractor, you have 3 years to file the complaint, counting from the day of the accident. If you are suing a New York government agency, you need to file a notice of claim within 90 days. An experienced lawyer will help you to file all necessary documents in time.
What you can claim compensation for in a personal injury case
If a worker decides to go the personal injury route, there are four aspects for which the worker can claim compensation:
- Medical bills for the treatment of physical injuries suffered
- Lost wages as a result of days off work due to the injury
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life after the injury compared to quality of life before the injury
It’s difficult to quantify the pain and suffering and loss of quality of life in monetary forms, but an experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to allocate a dollar value to what you can reasonably claim in terms of compensation.
Linden Law understands the special rules and regulations that apply to construction accidents and can provide expert advice when evaluating your case. What’s more, our experienced personal injury lawyers will evaluate your case for free to determine if it has any legal merit. There’s no need to try to claim compensation alone; with an experienced lawyer from Linden Law by your side, you are bound to get the maximum compensation that you deserve.