Construction is a relatively dangerous occupation. According to The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), of the worker fatalities that occurred in 2015, over 21 percent occurred in construction jobs. There are many causes of accidents at construction sites. Though most affect construction workers, some injure or even kill unsuspecting passersby. OSHA has isolated four categories of accidents that cause almost three out of five construction worker deaths; they are referred to as “the fatal four.”
The Fatal Four
The most common types of construction accidents responsible for worker deaths are:
- Falls account for 38.8 percent of total deaths in the construction industry.
They may be falls due to slippery surfaces, falls from ladders, falls from high beams, roofs, scaffolding, or other equipment or machinery.
- Being struck by an object causes 8.6 percent of construction worker deaths
- Electrocutions cause 8.6 percent of construction worker on-the-job fatalities.
- Caught in-between accidents occur when workers get compressed or crushed between pieces of equipment or machinery, or trapped under collapsing structures. This type of accident is responsible for 7.2 percent of construction worker deaths.
The Limits of Workers’ Compensation
Any accident that injures a worker at the workplace may make the employee eligible to receive workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault form of recompense, typically limited to medical and lost wages. Workers receive workers’ comp for their injuries whether anyone has been negligent or not, even if the accident is attributable to his or her carelessness or clumsiness. The price of this easy compensation, however, is that no payments are made for pain and suffering or for prolonged disability.
Compensation for Severe Injuries or Wrongful Death
In cases where negligence causes severe injury, permanent disability, or wrongful death, however, the construction worker and his or her family need a highly competent personal injury attorney to advocate for them in order to receive their rightful compensation through settlement or compensation.
In order to present a successful case, the attorney must prove negligence or malfeasance on the part of a defendant who may be, depending on the particular circumstances, a third party, such as:
- A contractor
- A subcontractor
- The manufacturer of a piece of defective equipment or machinery
- The site owner
In order to prove your case, it must be substantiated that you behaved with reasonable caution in the situation and did not breach your duty to avoid injury or damage — in other words that any injuries you suffered were not your own fault. It must also be proven that the defendant was negligent, failing to take reasonable precautions to avoid injury or damage, and that the defendant did, in fact, cause your injuries or the wrongful death of another. There are a number of types of evidence that may be submitted to prove your case, including photographs of the accident site, witness depositions, and expert mechanical, engineering, or medical testimony
Types of Damages You May Receive
Assuming your attorney presents a successful case, you may receive compensatory damages as a result of a settlement or after litigation. The damages you receive may be monetary recompense for property damage, medical, surgical, rehabilitative costs and/or funeral costs, lost earnings and benefits both in the present and in the foreseeable future, and compensation for pain and suffering, and/or loss of companionship or nurturing (in the case of a wrongful death).
If the case goes to court, the judge or jury may also award punitive damages if the defendant is considered to have been not only careless, but reckless, engaging in gross negligence. In such cases, punitive damages are designed not only to punish the defendant, but to deter others from behaving in similarly reckless, dangerous, and even illegal, behavior. Punitive damages are not awarded easily. They are usually awarded in cases of physical violence against an employee or when a contractor, manufacturer, or supplier knowingly exposed a worker to a toxic substance or defective products.
Ways Injuries or Wrongful Death Could Have Been Avoided
The following types of negligence may have contributed to construction accidents and may result in one or more defendants being held accountable:
- Unsafe working conditions
- Improper maintenance or use of tools, machinery, or equipment
- Lack of protective safeguards (e.g. railings, support beams, goggles)
- Improper training of workers in safe work methods
- Improper supervision or maintenance of vehicles
- Improper training of workers in safety methods
As mentioned earlier, it is also possible for a pedestrian or driver to be injured by falling debris at a construction site. Such accidents can also be settled or litigated by a personal injury attorney if it can be proven that the construction site should have made the site more secure or marked it appropriately to signal danger.
If you have been injured in a construction accident, whether you were a worker at the site or an innocent bystander, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney, like Chadwick & Tignor, P.C. of Tennessee to have your case professionally evaluated and to ensure that you receive the full amount of compensation you deserve.The skilled and compassionate lawyers at C&T can be reached by filling out a convenient contact form at their website or by calling 615.379.7900.