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Construction accidents are all too common – they caused more than 13 deaths per day last year, accounting for more than ⅕ of all worker deaths in private industry. More than half of deaths on construction sites are caused by the “Fatal Four” accidents: falls, electrocution, being struck by objects, and getting caught in or between objects. Falls alone make up 40% of the fatalities.
Construction sites are inherently dangerous. There’s a lot of heavy machinery and potentially hazardous material around. Even if everyone is following best practices for safety, things can go wrong. What is the law on construction accidents?
Construction site safety is highly regulated due to the dangerous nature of the work. There are rules for everything from the safest way to build and use scaffolding to the appropriate safety equipment for every task to how long a worker can go without a break. Some of these construction regulations vary from state to state. Others are federal and apply in every state. The most important federal regulatory body for the construction industry is the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA).
OSHA makes the federal rules for safety standards across a variety of industries, including construction. They have regulations for every kind of construction work as well as rules for general safety in the industry. In addition to a wide range of specific construction regulations and rules, employers have a general legal duty to provide a safe and healthful workplace. By providing the necessary time, materials, and supervision to meet construction regulations, employers are keeping both their employees and innocent bystanders safe. By failing to meet those regulations, employers put everyone at risk. If an employer’s risky behavior lands you in the hospital, the law recognizes that you shouldn’t have to bear the costs.
When you’re hurt at a construction site, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and other expenses caused by the injury. In some cases, you may choose to file a workers’ compensation claim through your employer. However, your claim may be denied or they may offer you less compensation than you believe you deserve. In that case, you may want to file a lawsuit to claim monetary damages.
Construction Accident Lawsuits
To win a construction accident lawsuit, you must prove 3 main elements: that someone owed you a duty of care, that they breached that duty, and that the breach caused your injury.
The first issue in a construction accident lawsuit is determining who, if anyone, had a legal duty to ensure your safety. Your direct boss, the architect or engineer, the makers of the construction machinery or hazardous materials, the owner of the site, the city or town, or some combination of these may have a legal duty to ensure your safety. This is called a “duty of care.” The person or party that owed a duty of care in your case will typically depend on the contracts governing the project.
Next, you’ll need to show that the duty of care was breached, or broken. In general, a breach of the duty of care in these types of cases occurs when someone is negligent. “Negligence” is a legal term that means a party that had a legal duty to protect you failed to take reasonable measures to keep you safe. With respect to construction accidents, negligence usually means a failure to uphold the relevant regulations. Because of the number of different regulations governing the construction industry, proving negligence in a construction accident lawsuit can be complicated. It may be enough to show that a regulation was violated, but there may be negligence even if all the rules were followed to the letter. OSHA regulations may apply, but your case may also involve separate state- or city-level laws or rules established by the owner of the property on which you were injured. In some states, an OSHA violation alone is enough to prove negligence. In short, it takes an experienced attorney to handle this type of claim.
Finally, you’ll need to show a link between the negligence and your injury. For example, you may show that your employer cut corners on the scaffolding that collapsed under you or that the site owner failed to warn the crew about hazardous waste on the property. If there was negligence but it didn’t cause your injury, you have no claim. If you were injured but there was no negligence, you have no claim. You have to show a clear link between your injury and the other party’s negligence.
What To Do When You’re Hurt At A Construction Site
If you’re injured at work, the first step is to get any medical treatment you need. You should always keep careful records of any medical treatment you receive, including follow-up appointments, therapy, prescription medications, and any other medical care. You should also keep track of how much time you’re forced to take off of work. Those records are your proof of your injury and your expenses.
As soon as possible after the injury, you should collect the names and contact information of any witnesses, take photos of the injury site, and report the injury to the site manager and/or your employer. If your employer has reporting procedures in place, you should follow those procedures carefully to make sure you’re in compliance and avoid any potential objections by your employer.
Find A Construction Accident Lawyer
Next, you should contact an experienced construction accident lawyer. These cases fall under a specialized area of law and you’ll need the help of an experienced construction accident lawyer to represent you and make sure that you’re treated fairly. Whether you decide to pursue compensation through workers’ compensation or through a lawsuit, the insurance companies and your employer may try to pay you less than you deserve. They have lawyers on hand to support their claims and you should have a lawyer to support yours.
Construction accident cases can only be filed for a limited amount of time following the injury, so you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that you don’t miss any important deadlines. In addition, you’ll only have a limited amount of time in which both sides can investigate the accident site.
If you’ve been injured at work, we may be able to help. Contact Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz today for a free consultation and case evaluation to learn about your legal rights and options.