What Is the Most Common Type of Construction Accident?
Numerous risks and dangers are associated with working in and being around construction sites. No matter how careful a worker may be, they may still suffer an injury. Sometimes construction accidents happen due to the negligence of the employer or even a third party. Common construction accidents can also happen to innocent bystanders or other people who happen to be in the area.
You should always consult with a knowledgeable construction accident attorney whenever you suffer an injury in an accident in Texas, whether on the job or not. You have legal rights and may be entitled to a reimbursement above and beyond any workers’ compensation you might be entitled to receive. An attorney can help you explore your legal rights and seek the compensation you deserve.
Falls: The Most Common Construction Accident Resulting in Death
Approximately 11.4 million U.S. workers are employed in construction during any given year, representing a 25 percent increase in the last decade or so. Falls have long been the most common type of construction accident and are the leading cause of work-related deaths in this industry.
These accidents often happen when a worker falls from scaffolding, ladders, roofs, chimneys, and other elevated surfaces. Additionally, construction sites frequently have extra materials, tools, and debris lying around over which workers can trip. Slippery surfaces can also cause slip and falls.
The severity of the resulting injuries usually depends on how far from the ground the worker was and the circumstances of the fall. Sometimes safety equipment helps mitigate the damage. However, other times, there’s no safety net in place, which usually means more severe injuries or even fatalities.
Since many construction workers often create a new building from nothing, it’s challenging to implement safety measures. This may be one of the principal reasons why occupational falls are so common.
In fact, falls are the top tier of the fatal four construction accident types. There are many common accidents and injuries on construction sites and four categories that are specifically known for causing severe injuries and deaths.
OSHA calls these events are the fatal four:
Getting caught in equipment or machinery
Being struck by an object
Other Common Types of Construction Accidents
Other common types of Texas construction accidents that can severely or fatally injure both workers and non-workers alike include:
Dug-out areas located underneath the ground or a sidewalk can collapse, injuring both anyone underneath and anyone over top of it. Excavated areas can collapse suddenly and without warning, leaving workers and pedestrians alike with no chance of avoiding an injury in a trench collapse.
Equipment, tools, and all types of building materials can drop or fall from above, especially if there are working on scaffolding or a roof at excessive heights. These items can cause serious or fatal injury if they fall on or near someone walking or standing below.
Equipment and Machinery Failures
Any type of power tools or equipment, from hand-held drills to forklifts or backhoes, might have a mechanical failure that can lead to an accident. Bigger pieces of equipment can be especially hazardous if they malfunction or slip out of gear.
Scaffold or Other Structure Failure
Fences, sheds, scaffolding, and other temporary structures can fall apart, wounding anyone on or near them, especially if someone improperly installed them or they had defective materials or parts.
Crushed-betweens and Back-overs
Construction workers face the risk of being run over by large trucks backing out of construction sites. Sometimes they are also crushed between walls or concrete and large vehicles.
Explosions and Fires
Construction sites arguably have the most hazards of any other type of work environment; flammable chemicals, leaking pipes, and exposed wiring are just a few. Although explosions and fires are not as common as other causes of construction injuries, they are often severe or fatal when they do happen.
Construction work frequently happens near power lines and power sources. It’s easy for construction workers to accidentally hit power lines with machinery and equipment. Although there are worksite precautions and reminder signs to help remind workers to be cautious, electrocution still occurs on construction job sites and can easily be deadly.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
While not an accident per se, repetitive motion can lead to injuries, just like accidents can on construction sites. Construction workers often do the same type of job and, therefore, the same types of motions every day. Repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow are temporary or permanent injuries to muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons caused by performing the same motion over and over again.
What Causes Construction Site Accidents and Injuries?
We can trace the many different types of construction accidents back to one or more of these signs of negligence:
Lack of fall protection for workers on elevated structures such as scaffolding
Absence of protection from falling objects
Tripping hazards from construction materials and debris left in the paths of others
Missing guards or protections on power tools
Dangerous equipment and machinery
Lack of safety precautions when working near power lines
Lack of protection for workers in trenches
Lack of safety training or training on how to safely and properly use equipment
Hazardous property conditions
Types of Construction Injuries
The results can be overwhelming when companies or people ignore safety on and around construction sites.
Construction accidents can cause many types of life-threatening injuries, including:
Crushed or otherwise injured limbs that require amputation
Deep cuts or lacerations
Toxic exposure to certain chemicals, such as from welding jobs
Some of these injuries can lead to life-changing disabilities like paralysis or loss of cognitive abilities. Those who survive these severe injuries may have years of costly and grueling medical care, physical therapy, surgeries, and other measures to return to even a small segment of their former ability to function. The equipment and medications someone with a construction injury might need only add to the staggering costs of these injuries.
The Financial Burden of Workplace Falls
Falls in the workplace, including those related to construction accidents, come at a price to employers, employees, and society. Medical costs and workers’ compensation benefits are an estimated $70 billion each year in the U. S.
Employers pay, on average, nearly one billion dollars per week for just direct workers’ compensation costs, including:
Workers’ compensation wage replacement
The indirect costs of these injuries include:
Training replacement employees
Repairs to damaged equipment
Due to the high expenses of workplace fall injuries, many employers and insurance companies often make it difficult for employees to have their workers’ compensation benefits approved or to have a successful personal injury claim. If you find this true in your case, it’s time to talk with a well-versed construction accident lawyer.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is insurance coverage that offers certain benefits to employees who are injured while doing their job. Injured employees can receive medical care, compensation for medical care, and payments for lost wages through this system.
Private employers in Texas who have workers comp coverage for their employees entitles them to receive these benefits no matter who is liable for their injury or illness because it is a no-fault system.
However, some injuries do not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Self-inflicted injuries (including those caused by an employee who initiates a fight)
Injuries sustained while an employee committed a crime
Injuries suffered while an employee was not at work or performing their job
Injuries sustained when a worker’s conduct breached company policy
If you have questions about whether or not your specific circumstances might invoke workers’ compensation benefits, be sure to meet with an attorney as soon as possible after your construction accident occurs.
Can You Receive Compensation for Pain and Suffering through a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Unfortunately, you can’t generally receive pain and suffering for a workers’ compensation injury since it’s a no-fault liability system. Even if another party’s negligent actions cause your injuries, you aren’t entitled to receive damages for pain and suffering through workers’ compensation.
However, you might have a third-party civil liability claim seeking compensation for damages, such as pain and suffering, if the person that caused the accident worked for another party or was another party besides your employer. You must reach out to a well-versed construction accident attorney to determine your rights.
Construction Accident Personal Injury Claims
In addition to workers’ comp claims, individuals who suffer construction accident injuries have the right to pursue personal injury claims through civil law. However, they cannot pursue a personal injury claim against their employer if they have workers’ comp.
Not every employer in Texas offers workers compensation insurance to its employees. Workers not covered by workers’ comp or those injured because of third-party liability have the right to file a personal injury claim. Suppose a construction accident injures someone other than a worker. In that case, that party also has the right to pursue a personal injury claim.
Third-party negligence claims arising from construction accidents typically involve:
Contract companies or workers that caused an accident
Equipment or vehicle manufacturers with faulty or defective equipment
Injured parties who are not employees or workers
These types of claims are rooted in negligence, so it does matter who is at fault.
To prove fault, your construction accident lawyer will need to establish that:
Another person, a party, owed you a duty of care— for example, equipment manufacturers should provide specific safety warnings on their equipment.
The person or party breached their duty to you.
Their breach of duty directly caused your injuries.
Your injuries led to your damages.
Once you hire a construction lawyer, they will identify who is liable for your injuries. In some cases, you can hold more than one party liable, which can increase the compensation you receive.
Your attorney will send a formal demand for compensation detailing their breach of duty and your injuries. This will open the door for your attorney to negotiate a settlement on your behalf. However, if you cannot reach a fair settlement with the insurer, you may decide to have your attorney pursue your case in civil court.
What Damages Can You Seek in a Construction Accident Injury Case?
Each personal injury case is different; however, construction accident victims generally may seek compensation in a civil lawsuit for your:
Limitations and disabilities
Pain and suffering
Disfigurement and scarring
Past and future medical expenses
Past and future income loss
Lost earning capacity for the future
Punitive damages might also be available if the court determines that the party who caused the accident acted incredibly recklessly or carelessly. While other damages compensate the victim, punitive damages punish the person who caused the harm and help prevent them or others from doing the same thing in the future.
Contact a Construction Accident Attorney Today
Suppose you or a family member recently suffered injuries in a construction accident. In that case, you might deserve compensation through workers’ compensation, a civil liability claim, or sometimes both. The best way to determine your rights and what your case might be worth is to contact an experienced accident attorney.
You only have a limited time under state laws to pursue an injury claim after a construction accident, so the sooner you seek legal help from a San Antonio personal injury law firm, the better.