Incidence and Types of Construction Accidents
Construction sites are among the most dangerous of all workplaces. One in five workplace fatalities is related to construction, and two construction workers die every day on average. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), four types of accidents are the most dangerous and fatal on construction sites:
- Being struck by an object
- Getting electrocuted
- Being caught in between objects
Even in non-fatal accidents, construction injuries can be serious. They may include broken bones, amputations, back and neck injuries, long-term or permanent disabilities, brain injuries, blindness or deafness, spinal cord damage, or disfigurement.
Construction workers most at risk of injuries or deaths from accidents are:
- First-line supervisors
Construction workers have a right to a reasonably safe workplace. Ensuring safety is the responsibility of the employer. According to OSHA, common safety violations leading to accidents on construction sites are failing to protect from falls, unsafe scaffolding, unsafe ladders, inadequate hazard warnings, and insufficient training.
What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Workers’ comp is a type of insurance that most employers are required by law to hold. It provides compensation for workers injured on the job. The insurance provides coverage for past and future medical bills, lost wages, disability benefits, and death benefits.
The insurance is designed to prevent lawsuits. In most construction worker accidents, employers are immune to lawsuits because insurance provides benefits. There are exceptions and cases in which the employer can sue for a work injury.
What to Do After a Construction Accident
If you suffered an injury on the job in construction, take these steps to get medical care and to be sure you receive fair compensation:
- Get Medical Care.
Always most important is your health. In an emergency, get medical attention right away. For minor injuries, you may be able to wait until after reporting the incident, but always get looked at as soon as possible.
- Report the Injury.
Make a report of the incident and your injury as soon as you can. There is a time limit in most situations, so don’t wait. The report must be in writing. A verbal report is not adequate. If you are too ill or injured to make a report, someone can do it for you. The report should include statements from witnesses.
- Have Your Employer File a Claim.
It is the employer’s responsibility to file a claim with workers’ compensation insurance. There is a time limit on this report as well, so don’t hesitate to remind your employer. You need this claim to get compensation for your medical bills and other related expenses.
- Talk to an Attorney if Denied.
If you do everything right up to this point and the insurance company denies the claim or does not provide adequate compensation, talk to a lawyer. Personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers can help you fight for a fair amount.
Can I File a Lawsuit over a Construction Accident?
If you are an employee injured on the job site, you can generally not sue your employer. You should be compensated through the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. However, there are exceptions, some of which depend on individual state laws:
- The employer intentionally caused the accident or injury.
- Your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, which may be illegal.
- You can prove gross negligence by the employer in the accident.
- You suffered an injury when using a defective product made by your employer.
- You work as an independent contractor rather than an employee. Contractors are not covered under workers’ compensation, which removes employer immunity in personal injury cases.
You may also be able to recover damages from a third party involved in the accident, for instance, the manufacturer of a tool or toxic substance that caused harm. An experienced work injury lawyer can clarify state laws, review your case, and determine if you can start a lawsuit and against whom.
Who is Negligent in a Construction Accident?
In most cases of workplace construction accidents, workers’ compensation insurance covers the injured employee’s expenses. However, there may be incidents in which someone can be proven negligent and liable for those expenses through legal action. It’s not always the employer.
Contractors and subcontractors are outside the workers’ compensation insurance in many cases. A contractor has a responsibility to any hired subcontractors. They must supervise their work and follow OSHA guidelines. If they do not, they could be liable for damages.
Engineers and architects may also be held liable for construction accidents. If the accident and injury occurred because of a flaw in their designs or decisions, they might be negligent.
Construction Accidents in Non-Workers
The vast majority of construction accidents involve workers, whether employees or contractors. In some cases, a person on a construction site is not working and ends up injured. A visitor to a site may hold the construction company liable for damages after an injury. An employee, a contractor, the manufacturer of a product or equipment, or the engineer or architect may also be at fault.
These cases may be complicated by the victim’s role in the accident. If they were not supposed to be on the construction site, for instance, they might not be able to prove anyone else is negligent. Visitors who have permission to be on site but do not follow safety rules, such as wearing a helmet, may also have trouble recovering damages.
Construction accidents happen, but many should have been prevented. If you have been hurt on a construction site, talk to an experienced personal and work injury lawyer about your rights and what steps you can take for adequate compensation.