Construction accidents are common in every city, and Austin is no different. Given the boom the city is experiencing in residential housing, it seems like you pass a new work zone or construction site every day.
The construction industry is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Although construction workers account for 6% of the American labor force, they account for 20% of worker fatalities. The reasons for the alarming number of worker fatalities in the construction industry are what the industry refers to as “The Fatal Four” construction accidents.
What are the “Fatal Four” construction accidents?
The “Fatal Four” construction accidents are the top four accidents that cause the majority of worksite fatalities. These construction site accidents include:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that falls are responsible for almost 38% of all construction fatalities. Falls are common construction accidents because workers have to perform tasks from various heights. In addition to working from greater heights, construction workers often have to work in dangerous conditions like unprotected ledges.
Being struck by objects
While less common than falls, being struck by objects is still a leading cause of death for construction workers. Falling objects (including tools or materials) can create a force strong enough to kill, even if a worker is wearing a hard hat. Being hit by moving materials or vehicles can also be fatal; back-up accidents with work trucks, swinging cranes, and other moving objects can be deadly.
Another common fatal construction accident that can arise from heavy equipment is an electrocution accident. According to the National Fire Protection Association, “In 2020, 126 workers died due to exposure to electricity…. Almost three in five injuries (56 percent) were caused by direct exposure to electricity; this is defined as injuries caused by direct contact with the power source, such as direct contact with a live electrical wire or when the victim is struck by an electrical arc.”
Construction workers are exposed to overhead power lines, defective power tools, and gas-powered combustion engines that place them in contact with electricity. When construction workers are exposed to live electrical currents, they can suffer severe, often fatal injury.
Being caught between objects
The final “Fatal Four” risk for construction workers involves being caught between pieces of equipment or objects. Of the more than 4,700 worker deaths in 2020, 231 were the result of being “caught in or compressed by equipment or objects [and] caught in running equipment or machinery,” per the BLS.
An additional risk for construction workers includes trench collapse, where the sides of a man-made excavation cave in or slide, compressing (or buying) the worker within. According to one company which offers training classes for a wide array of industries, “a single cubic yard of soil amounts to 4000 pounds which is the weight of a small pickup truck. When a trench caves in, unprotected workers are buried under that mass instantly which can prove fatal.”
Liable parties in an Austin construction accident
When construction workers are seriously injured or killed, several parties can be liable for their injuries. Some of these parties include:
- The construction company
- The property owner
- Tool and equipment manufacturers
- Construction company’s insurance company
- Property owner’s insurance company
The construction company’s liability
In a construction accident, the construction company is the party whose negligence contributes the most to accidents. Construction companies have a legal obligation to ensure that working environments are safe for all workers. This includes making sure that all the work is performed in a safe manner.
Property owners may have a legal obligation to construction workers. When construction site owners fail to either inform workers of hazards or remove the hazards from the premises, they could be held liable for any resulting injuries.
Tool manufacturers can also be held liable for a construction worker’s accident by creating defective products. Defective tools can cause workers to experience serious injuries from things like electrocution accidents or being struck or caught between pieces of equipment. Manufacturers can create a design or manufacturing defect that allows the tool to malfunction and hurt a construction worker.
Compensation available through a lawsuit
If your loved one dies on or near an Austin construction site, you have legal options available to you. Depending on the nature of your relationship to the deceased, you may be able to a file a wrongful death lawsuit. You can also file a survival action (typically in tandem with the wrongful death claim) on behalf of your loved one’s estate.
If you were fortunate to survive a “Fatal Four” accident, chances are you have sustained serious injuries, and can therefore file a personal injury lawsuit. Your injuries could be a catastrophic injury like a spinal cord injury, burn injury, or a traumatic amputation. You could suffer internal injuries, like organ and nerve damage.
In a personal injury lawsuit, the compensation can include:
- Medical expenses. This includes medications, hospital visits, rehabilitation, and more. In any case, you deserve to be compensated for any medical expenses you incur.
- Lost wages. These are wages that you have missed out on due to your injuries. You can also claim a loss of future earning potential, if you are left unable to work.
- Pain and suffering. You can seek compensation for your physical pain as well as your mental trauma resulting from the accident. The injuries that you sustain from your accident may prevent you from engaging in activities and spending quality time with your family and friends; this is also compensable.
At Slack Davis Sanger, our Austin construction accident lawyers are prepared to fight for your rights harder than you are. No construction worker should have to suffer from an accident that is completely preventable.. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-455-8686 or complete our contact form. We maintain additional offices in Dallas and Forth Worth.
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.