With more than 10 million American workers employed in construction jobs, the construction industry is an important part of our nation’s economy. However, it is also one of the most dangerous. According to the Center for Construction Research and Training, more than 1,000 fatal occupational injuries occur every year on construction job sites in the United States.
When construction work accidents occur, injured parties may be able to recover compensation through the legal system for their injuries. We will take a detailed look at construction site accidents, what causes them, why they’re dangerous and how the law may be able to assist accident victims.
If you or someone you know has been injured on a construction job site, reach out to an experienced construction work accident attorney.
Common Injuries on Construction Job Sites
Construction work takes place in high-risk environments that involve dangerous equipment and heavy machinery. Thus, when an accident in construction occurs, they often result in serious, life-threatening injuries that can have devastating effects on victims. In addition to being extremely painful, these injuries can also be expensive. Some of the most common injuries suffered in construction work accidents include the following:
- Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries
- Chemical burns
- Disfigurement and loss of limbs
- Broken bones and fractures
- Organ damage
- Paralysis and nervous system damage
Injuries of any type can occur on a construction job site. Because job sites are so large, there are many different ways in which construction workers can get injured on the job. No matter how seemingly minor an injury may be, a construction site accident victim should always explore their legal options by speaking with an attorney.
Wrongful Death Construction Site Accidents
Another report by the Center for Construction Research and Training tells a shocking statistic: while construction workers represent only 7 percent of the national workforce, they represent 21 percent of all job site deaths. In other words, a significant number of construction workers die on the job each year due to accidents in construction, and at a much higher rate than other sectors of our economy.
When these unfortunate cases arise, a deceased worker’s family may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased worker’s estate. Functionally, wrongful death lawsuits are the same as personal injury lawsuits, but instead of compensation for injuries, a family seeks compensation for the loss of a loved one. Even though a loved one’s life cannot be valued in a sum of money, wrongful death lawsuits nonetheless provide an opportunity for families to seek justice for their lost loved one.
Types of Construction Site Accidents
According to the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the most common construction site accidents are fall injuries, where a worker falls from scaffolding or another high surface. But in addition to fall injuries, types of accidents in construction include:
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Crushing by equipment
- Caught-in and caught-between equipment
- Hazardous energy incidents
- Truck and equipment accidents
- Struck-by objects or equipment
After falls, the next most common types of construction accidents are struck-by incidents, electrocutions, and caught-in/between incidents. These four types of accidents account for more than 60 percent of all construction site accidents.
Causes of Construction Work Accidents
Unfortunately, the vast majority of construction work accidents are entirely preventable because they are caused by the negligence of another person or entity. When those accidents occur, a victim or their family may be eligible to recover compensation for their injuries. But more specifically, construction site accidents can be caused by any of the following factors:
- Failure to follow OSHA regulations
- Lack of maintenance on equipment
- Faulty installation of safety equipment
- Improper lockout/tagout procedures
- Lack of personal protective equipment, including helmets
- Failure to warn or protect from chemical exposure
When a construction site accident is caused by any of these reasons, a negligence claim could result from the associated injuries. An accident victim should consult with an attorney as soon as possible to get more information.
Staying Safe on Construction Sites
In an ideal world, no construction worker would be injured on a job site due to another person’s negligence. On that note, the easiest way to prevent construction worker injuries and ensure job site safety is to follow regulations and rules set out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA’s regulations are specifically designed to ensure job site safety and prevent injuries to workers.
But unfortunately, everyday construction workers often have no control over whether the contractors and site managers in charge of their job site are following OSHA rules. The following is a list of ways that construction workers can try to avoid injuries on the job.
Wearing a Helmet and Utilizing PPE
Even though it should go without saying, all workers should wear a helmet when on a construction job site, and if necessary, utilize other forms of personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition to helmets, other construction PPE include face guards, eyewear, steel-toed boots, ear protection, reflective gear, and respirators. If a site manager fails to provide PPE, workers should inquire about obtaining it.
Follow Posted Signage
Many OSHA regulations consist of posting signage and warnings of potential risks and dangers. Even though many of these signs are commonplace to construction workers and thus easy to overlook, workers should pay attention to posted signage and follow directions when provided.
Report Any Issues or Faulty Equipment
One of the most important ways workers can protect themselves and others is by reporting any safety issues that may arise on site. When something appears to be unsafe, it is highly likely that it is actually unsafe, and promptly reporting issues could save a life on a construction job site.
Stay Organized and Use Proper Storage
In particular, electrocution and tripping injuries often occur due to equipment being improperly stored. If a work area is laden with equipment and cords, that work area becomes a high-risk area for trips and falls. Furthermore, equipment left on or otherwise improperly stored could create significant risks for electrocution.
Liability for Construction Site Injuries
When a construction site accident occurs, a victim and their family may be able to pursue legal options to receive compensation for their injuries. In general, the law provides that when a person is injured due to another person’s negligence, the injured party should be able to recover money from the wrongful party. The money recovered should be in an amount that fully and fairly compensates the injured party for their injuries. While the principle is simplistic in nature, it can become complicated in practice – especially concerning construction work accidents.
Potentially Liable Parties for Construction Site Accidents
On a construction work site, there are many different entities involved, and in turn, many different people on a job site at any given time. Because no construction worker performs every function necessary to build something, the parties working on a job site are in near-constant rotation until the project is finished. Thus, assigning fault when a negligence incident occurs can be a difficult process. The potentially liable parties for construction work accidents include:
- General contractors
- Subcontractors of any type
- Equipment operators
- Site safety consultants
- Inspectors and surveyors
Even though it can be sometimes difficult to determine who is at fault for a construction site accident, that shouldn’t deter accident victims and their families from checking on their legal options. In fact, a construction accident attorney can assist you in performing investigative work to determine who is at fault for an accident – and in turn, seek compensation from that person or entity that caused your injuries.
Proving a Negligence Claim
In order to make a successful job site negligence claim, a worker generally has to show that some act of negligence occurred. Even though complicated and devastating, job site injury cases can actually be easier to prove in court than other cases. This is because every employer owes a duty of care to their employees in ensuring that work sites are free from hazards.
When a construction work accident occurs due to an otherwise preventable hazard, the victim usually is left to only prove that their injury was actually caused by that hazard. In other unrelated cases, victims usually have to prove that the defendant owed the victim a duty, as well. Causation can be proven through a variety of evidence, including job site records, video evidence, maintenance records, and other evidence that an experienced attorney can assist victims in obtaining.
Get in Touch with a Construction Accident Attorney
At Slack Davis Sanger, we understand that accidents in construction can cause devastating injuries. We have more than 25 years of experience litigating cases on behalf of injured victims and their families, and we’re ready to assist you today. If you or a loved one has been affected by a construction site accident, contact our team to set up a free consultation.
The firm handles cases involving catastrophic personal injuries and deaths. Our work spans three decades of handling airplane and helicopter crashes, truck and car accidents, oilfield and construction accidents, and other devastating accidents. We try lawsuits throughout the country in both federal and state courts and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients. To date, we have handled or tried cases in 47 states, read more about our attorneys and firm.