Were You Injured In A Construction Site Accident?

Falls, electrocutions, crane accidents, and other accidents on construction sites are responsible for thousands of on-the-job injuries and deaths every year. In fact, compared to all other job sectors, the construction industry has the highest number of fatal work injuries.

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Falls, electrocutions, crane accidents, and other accidents on construction sites are responsible for thousands of on-the-job injuries and deaths every year. In fact, compared to all other job sectors, the construction industry has the highest number of fatal work injuries.

Most people don’t realize how dangerous the construction industry really is. As part of their regular work tasks, construction workers encounter electricity, harmful materials, dangerous equipment, and other potential health and safety hazards on a daily basis. Throw in inattentive or poorly trained co-workers, negligent employers or site managers, and/or malfunctioning construction equipment, and you’ll begin to understand just how frequently construction accidents occur. Unfortunately, because of the inherently dangerous nature of construction work and the hazardous conditions workers encounter while working on construction sites, when construction accidents do happen, they tend to be serious. 

The construction industry as a whole faces high rates of workplace accidents, serious injuries, and worker fatalities, despite continued improvements in construction safety equipment, guidelines and training. In fact, while construction workers make up only 6% of the U.S. labor force, a whopping 20% of workplace fatalities are in the construction industry. If you have suffered injuries in a construction site accident or if you lost a loved one in a fatal construction accident, contact the Consumer Justice Foundation as soon as possible to find out how we can help.

Construction Site Accident Injuries and Deaths

You might think that any worker could be injured in a job-site accident, but the truth is that construction workers face a disproportionately higher risk of injury or death compared to other workers in the U.S. Consider this statistic – 5,333 workers died on the job in 2019, according to OSHA, and about 20% (one in five, or 1,061) of the workplace deaths that occurred in the private sector that year were in construction. Combine these deaths with the more than 360,000 nonfatal construction site injuries that occur in the U.S. each year, and the hazardous nature of the construction industry becomes apparent. The following are some examples of injuries that workers can sustain in a construction site accident: 

  • Lacerations
  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Electrocution
  • Eye injuries
  • Hearing loss
  • Burn injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Scars (disfigurement)
  • Loss of limbs
  • Mesothelioma
  • Respiratory injury
  • Permanent disability
  • Wrongful death

Who is at Risk for Construction Site Accidents?

Construction sites are considered some of the most dangerous workplace environments for workers in the U.S. Between powerful construction trucks hauling building materials from place to place on a job site, workers operating heavy machinery or working at heights, and the risk of collapsing trenches, exposure to hazardous materials, repetitive motion injuries, and constant loud noises, construction sites are extremely risky places to work. No matter how careful workers may be while working on a construction site, they can still be injured or killed in a job-site accident through no fault of their own. And while anyone can be the victim of a construction site accident, statistics show that construction workers between the ages of 25 and 34 are most likely to be injured on the job. 

Common Types of Construction Site Accidents

Construction sites tend to be busy environments, with lots of noise and constant movement from heavy machinery and industrial trucks, not to mention the potential risks posed by heavy overhead loads, hazardous materials, contact with electricity, and other occupational safety hazards. There is typically a lot going on at once on a construction site and construction workers are expected to ignore any potential distractions and get their work done safely and efficiently. However, this isn’t always possible, depending on the hazards that exist on the job site and the extent of the protections that have been put in place to prevent these hazards from causing harm to workers. The following are some common types of accidents that can occur on a construction site:

  • Electrocutions – Construction workers face a risk of electrocution from overhead wires, electrical equipment, wiring, lighting and other electrical hazards on construction sites.
  • Burns – Electrical burns, thermal burns, chemical burns and smoke inhalation burns are all examples of burn injuries that can affect construction workers.
  • Falls from heights – Falls from ladders, scaffolding, roofs and other elevated surfaces can result in serious or possibly even fatal construction site injuries.
  • Slip and falls – Even a slip and fall on the ground can cause construction workers to suffer sprains, broken bones and other serious injuries. 
  • Struck-by accidents (falling objects) – Struck-by accidents are all too common on construction sites, where workers routinely work with heavy objects and equipment. When a construction worker is struck by a piece of equipment, a vehicle, or a falling, flying, rolling or swinging object, death or serious injury may occur. 
  • Caught-in and caught-between accidents – Similar to struck-by accidents, caught-in/caught-between accidents occur when a worker or worker’s body part is caught or crushed between objects. 
  • Crane and hoist accidents – Cranes and hoists are commonly used on construction sites to lift and move heavy objects, large tools, and other building materials. However, serious crane or hoist accidents can occur when construction workers are near an overhead load or within the crane’s swing radius, or if the crane comes in contact with an overhead power line. These types of construction accidents can happen as a result of operator error, lack of proper training, or other avoidable factors.
  • Forklift accidents – Inattentive or poorly trained forklift operators can pose a considerable risk for other construction workers who may suffer serious injuries in a forklift accident. These types of accidents can occur as a result of poorly maintained equipment, carrying excessive loads, or failure to follow safe operating procedures when picking up, putting down, moving and stacking loads.
  • Gas leaks, fires and explosions – On any construction site where workers are installing, replacing or repairing fixtures for the use of natural gas, a potentially deadly gas leak, fire or explosion can occur. Chemicals and combustible materials can also trigger fires and explosions on construction sites, which can lead to burn injuries, hazardous chemical exposure, or other serious injuries. 
  • Equipment- or machinery-related accidents – Heavy machinery can help construction workers complete a job faster. However, it can also cause devastating injuries if the machinery is defective or the operator is negligent or careless.
  • Elevator shaft accidents – Some construction projects call for an empty space to be left for an elevator to be installed at a later stage. If these elevator shafts are not properly covered or barricaded, or if an open elevator shaft does not have clearly posted warnings, a construction worker could fall down the shaft and suffer serious injuries, paralysis or death.
  • Chemical spills and exposure to chemicals – Depending on the type of construction site, workers may run the risk of being exposed to toxic chemicals or respiratory irritants, which can cause burns or respiratory problems.
  • Structure collapse – Scaffolding, also known as staging, is a temporary framework used in construction to raise and support workers, machinery and building materials. When construction scaffolds are not assembled correctly or used properly, or when they are defectively designed or manufactured, falls are more likely to occur. 
  • Vehicle accidents – The use of earth-moving equipment, trucks and other heavy duty vehicles is essential for large-scale construction work. Unfortunately, these vehicles can also be a danger to workers who may be struck by a construction vehicle during the course of their work. The same is true for highway and street construction workers, who are at risk for serious or potentially life-threatening injuries when working around construction vehicles and passing motorists. 
  • Trench collapses – If a trench collapses on a construction site, workers can become trapped and die of compression injuries, blunt force trauma, suffocation or other potentially deadly injuries. In 2020 alone, trench cave-ins accounted for at least 21 fatalities on construction sites. These tragic accidents are often the result of workplace safety violations like inadequate trench cave-in protection, failure to conduct daily trench inspection, and heavy loads located too close to the trench edge. 
  • Respiratory illness – Construction workers who aren’t equipped with the proper safety gear on job sites can develop respiratory illnesses caused by breathing in toxic fumes or hazardous materials, such as asbestos.
  • Repetitive motion accidents – Many construction workers suffer back, ankle, wrist or joint injuries caused by the repetitive nature of their work. Repetitive movements, using excessive force, performing overhead work for long periods of time, and vibrations from power tools are just some examples of common construction activities that can cause debilitating musculoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and bursitis. 

Construction Focus Four

Because they occur so frequently on construction sites, electrocution accidents, falls, struck-by accidents, and caught-in/caught-between accidents have been identified by OSHA as the “Construction Focus Four,” or the four most common construction site hazards for construction workers. It is important for construction workers to be aware of these potential safety hazards so they can protect themselves at work and reduce their risk of injury or death. It is also important for workers and their loved ones to understand how and why construction site accidents occur so the appropriate party can be held liable for damages in the event of a worksite injury or fatality. 

What to Do After a Construction Accident

Seek immediate medical care.

It is critical that injured construction workers seek immediate medical attention after a construction site accident. Even if the injury seems minor, there could be underlying damage, such as head trauma or internal bleeding, that may not be immediately evident without a doctor’s expert assessment. It is also important for there to be an official report of the worker’s injuries on record, which may serve as proof that the injuries were caused by the construction accident, should the worker decide to pursue a lawsuit.

Write down every detail of the accident as you remember it.

The passage of time can affect your memory and interfere with your ability to recall events as they happened. If you are mentally and physically able, you should write down everything you can remember about the time leading up to the accident and the accident itself, including the time, location, and potential cause. These notes may be used as evidence in your case. 

Report the accident to your supervisor or superior.

Construction workers are expected to report any job-site injuries to their supervisor or superior within a reasonable amount of time. Write down the date the accident report was submitted and the name and position of the person who received the report, so you can add this information to your case notes. 

Make a note of anyone who witnessed the accident.

Identifying witnesses who can corroborate your version of events is just as important in a construction accident as in a car accident or 18-wheeler accident. Record the contact information of any other workers or bystanders who witnessed your accident, and if possible, a summary of what they observed. 

Preserve any evidence pertaining to the accident.

If you are physically and mentally able, you should take photos of the injuries you sustained in the construction accident, the site where the accident occurred, and any equipment or tools involved in the accident. If you aren’t able, you should have a friend, family member or coworker do it for you. 

Ensure that your injuries are well-documented.

In order to paint a clear picture of just how severely you were affected by the construction accident, you should make sure your injuries are well-documented and the treatment you received or the medications you were prescribed are clearly recorded. Request an official report of the construction accident to include in your file.

Contact a qualified workplace accident attorney.

Ensuring that you receive the full amount of workers’ compensation benefits or personal injury damages you are entitled to after a construction site accident can be difficult. Insurance companies are notorious for dragging out and denying legitimate claims, and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider may try to delay your claim or pay out as little as possible in benefits. Having a knowledgeable construction accident attorney on your side can significantly improve your chances of recovering the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve or fair and timely damages, if you pursue a personal injury claim.

Construction Site Accident Prevention

Preventing Deadly Construction Accidents

Some construction site injuries and fatalities are unforeseen accidents that simply could not have been avoided, while other incidents on construction sites occur because of someone else’s negligence or wrongful acts. Job-site accidents are regrettably common in the construction industry, so much so that OSHA has developed workplace rules and regulations specifically for construction. OSHA is responsible for setting and enforcing workplace safety standards aimed at protecting the safety of workers in construction and other industries and preventing work-related injuries and illnesses. These standards exist for the protection of workers and employers alike. However, not all employers or employees comply with them, and construction accidents still happen as a result of negligence, indifference, carelessness and incompetence. 

Construction site accidents caused by workplace safety violations are particularly tragic because they are entirely preventable. The number one most frequently cited workplace safety standard violated in 2020 was in construction and had to do with fall protection. “Falls are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths,” the OSHA website states. “Employers must set up the workplace to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls.” Unfortunately, when employers fail to provide workers with proper fall protection or take other measures to ensure their safety at work, the risk of injuries and deaths is significantly higher.

Pursuing Compensation for a Construction Site Accident

Workers’ Compensation vs Third-Party Lawsuit

When you sustain a serious injury in a construction site accident, you will likely have medical bills that need to be paid. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may also need to take time off from work to recover, transition to a job that is less physically demanding, or possibly even stop working altogether as a result of the harm you have suffered. For many families, the cost of an injured worker’s medical care combined with a loss of reliable income can put them in a financial hole that may be difficult to climb out of. Fortunately, injured construction workers and the loved ones of workers killed in fatal construction accidents have two options for obtaining the compensation they need to cover their medical expenses, lost wages and other losses: a workers’ compensation claim and/or a third-party lawsuit. 

What is a Third-Party Lawsuit?

In most cases, workers’ compensation laws protect employers from liability in the event of a construction site accident, meaning injured workers cannot sue their employer for a workplace injury, whether the employer was negligent or not. Instead, workers’ compensation is meant to be the exclusive remedy for workers injured in workplace accidents. However, if someone other than your employer did something that caused or contributed to your construction accident (or if your employer or a coworker intentionally caused your injuries), you may have a third-party liability claim. A third-party lawsuit is a legal claim brought against another person or party over injuries sustained by the plaintiff. In addition to medical bills and lost wages, third-party claims also allow injured workers to pursue compensation for damages that are not available through a workers’ compensation claim, such as pain and suffering.

Who is Liable for Construction Site Accidents?

The working conditions on many construction sites are far from safe. It comes as no surprise then, that the construction industry has the highest number of worker fatalities in the U.S. It is the responsibility of employers and site managers to take reasonable care to ensure the safety of construction workers on the job and anyone else who visits a construction site. To protect construction workers and minimize the risk of construction site injuries and fatalities, OSHA has established strict guidelines and regulations to ensure a safe workplace in the construction industry (i.e. training and protective equipment). The companies that design and manufacture construction equipment, machinery and tools are also expected to provide construction workers with safe, properly functioning products that do not pose an unreasonable risk of injury or death. When a person or company’s failure to maintain a hazard-free work environment or provide safe construction equipment results in injury to a construction worker, the injured worker may be able to file a civil lawsuit against that person or company for negligence or product liability. 

General Contractors or Subcontractors

Construction sites are notoriously fast-paced work environments and there tend to be a lot of hands in the pot on any given building project. If another company or party other than your employer, such as an outside contractor or subcontractor, creates an unsafe work environment and a construction accident occurs as a result, you may have a claim against that company or party for any injuries you sustain in the accident. For instance, if there is an engineer overseeing the building project and the engineer’s negligence causes an accident and you are injured as a result, the engineer may be liable for damages. These claims generally rely on a “negligence” cause of action, which means showing that:

  • The contractor or subcontractor (defendant) owed you a duty of care, 
  • The defendant breached that duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way, 
  • The breach of duty caused your injuries, and
  • You suffered damages as a result of your injuries.

Equipment Manufacturers

For equipment-related accidents involving cranes, forklifts, or other machinery on construction sites, the equipment manufacturing company may be liable for damages in a third-party claim if the accident occurred because the equipment was dangerous, defective or malfunctioned in some way. An example of this would be if a construction worker is injured or killed in a struck-by accident involving a crane hook with a missing or malfunctioning safety latch. In order to bring a successful product liability claim against an equipment manufacturer for a construction site accident, you will have to show that the machinery, tool, or piece of equipment in question was defective and that the defective machinery, tool, or piece of equipment caused your injuries. 

Employers or Fellow Construction Workers

As we noted above, workers’ compensation is typically the only way a construction worker can pursue compensation from an employer for injuries sustained at work, even if the employer was negligent or careless. Those same laws that protect employers from civil actions by employees who suffer injuries in a job-site accident provide similar safeguards for the injured employee’s coworkers. There are, however, certain extremely limited circumstances in which an injured construction worker may be able to sue an employer or coworker for an injury sustained at work, namely situations where the employer or coworker’s deliberate actions caused the work-related injury. That means you may be able to file a lawsuit directly against your employer or a fellow construction worker if the person breached the company’s rules or engaged in illegal activity that caused or contributed to your injuries. 

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Construction site accidents account for 20% of all workplace fatalities in the U.S. and cause thousands of other nonfatal injuries among construction workers every year. Sadly, even nonfatal construction accident injuries can be catastrophic, leaving workers unable to return to work for weeks, months, or possibly even indefinitely, which can add a crushing financial burden to what is already a complicated situation. The complexities surrounding construction accidents and determining who is liable for your injuries can be confusing and overwhelming. If you have been injured in a construction site accident or if your loved one was killed in a fatal construction accident, you need an experienced construction site accident attorney to help guide you towards satisfactory compensation. Contact our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation as soon as possible to find out how to obtain the financial help you need to recover from your construction accident injuries. 

By submitting this form, you confirm that you have read and agreed to Select Justice, LLC, LeadClient, Inc., or a law firm may contact you about their services at your above phone number even if it is on a National or State Do Not Call List. Calls / texts may employ automated dialing technology and prerecorded / artificial voice messages and email. I understand my consent is not a condition of any purchase.

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