Working is a necessary, though sometimes unpleasant, part of life. While we can’t always be guaranteed a high-paying, fulfilling, and enjoyable job, everyone deserves certain rights at work. These include fair treatment, sufficient breaks, and a safe working environment.
Yet many fields are inherently hazardous to work in. Transportation, logging, and metalworking are a few of the most dangerous professions.
Unsurprisingly, construction sites are also known to create unsafe working environments. The complex machinery, dangerous noise levels, and sharp or hazardous objects associated with construction work can result in a vast array of injuries. Common construction accidents range from impact accidents and equipment malfunctions to electrocutions and burns. However, falls are one of the leading causes of injury on construction sites.
However, falls are one of the leading causes of injury on construction sites, and it’s essential to have an experienced construction accident attorney to help navigate the legal process if you or a loved one has been injured on the job.
The Terrifying Prevalence of Falls in Construction Sites
Falls occur on construction sites across the United States every day. While some falls do not have long-term consequences, serious injuries and fatalities are alarmingly common among construction laborers. According to the CDC, “falls are the number one cause of construction worker fatalities, accounting for one-third of all on-the-job deaths in the industry.”
A report revealed that 401 fatalities were due to falls out of 1,102 total fatalities in construction. While various work settings may present fall hazards, construction represents the highest number of falls across all industries, making up 51 percent of falls in the United States.
The statistics below provides additional insight into the dangers and commonality of falls on construction sites.
- Roofing is the fourth deadliest job in the world, with a fatality rate of about 4 per 10,000 workers.
- More than half of workers killed in a fall did not have access to personal fall arrest gear.
- Twenty-one percent of falls occurred from a height of greater than 30 feet.
- By eliminating the occurrence of falls alone, we can save 300 lives annually.
- Those working for small employers (with fewer than 20 employees) are more likely to become injured or die from a fall.
- Nonfatal falls account for $2.5 billion in worker’s compensation annually.
- Construction workers are more than seven times more likely to die in a fall than those who work in other industries.
- Residential roofers are more likely to experience a fall than commercial roofers.
- A worker is exposed to heights when his or her center of gravity is more than five feet from the ground, and no protective walls, railings, or barriers are in place. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 62.2 percent of construction laborers encounter heights at work.
- According to the CDC, immigrants and workers over 65 are at the most significant risk of suffering fatal injuries in a fall.
Different Types of Falls
If you work in construction, chances are high that you’ve either witnessed or experienced a fall. Falls account for 26 percent of injuries among construction laborers. Most people working in construction will suffer an injury at some point in their career, so a considerable portion of these will be fall-related. Fall accidents range from minor ground-level trips to more severe falls from extreme heights.
The construction industry often faces fall hazards, including walking obstacles such as strewn debris, missing or faulty handrails, and broken or defective stairs. There are many different types of falls that can occur on construction sites.
The list below details some of the most common fall scenarios presenting dangers to construction workers.
- Falls from structures. These types of accidents include falls from roofs, scaffolding, high-rises, and upper levels of buildings. They are the most deadly among the different categories of falls, as they tend to involve the greatest heights. Structural falls are also associated with the highest number of severe injuries among construction workers. Many workers who experience falls from high structures do not have access to necessary fall arrest equipment.
- Slip and fall accidents. Also referred to as same-level falls, these accidents involve those that occur from lower heights. While they tend to be far less fatal than other types of falls, injuries from same-level falls can still be painful, debilitating, and costly. Many factors can contribute to the likelihood of a slip and fall accident, including walking hazards such as holes and exposed pipes or visual hazards such as carrying loads that obstruct a worker’s view.
- Structural failure falls. Another common type of fall on construction sites is the structural integrity of floors, ceilings, and other supporting structures. Structural failures occur when the support of one of these structures is insufficient to maintain the weight of a worker, causing it to collapse and the worker to fall through.
- Ladder falls. Ladders are some of the most hazardous types of equipment on construction sites. Often, falls from ladders are caused by damage to the ladders rendering them defective or otherwise unsafe for use. Like structural falls, ladder falls can be deadly. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 161 work fatalities from which ladders were the primary source in a recent year. The construction industry saw over 5,000 nonfatal ladder injuries in the same year.
Most Common Injuries Resulting From Falls
It’s easy to imagine the different kinds of injuries one might sustain from a fall. Same-level or slip-and-fall accidents may lead to sprains, bruising, joint dislocations, and even minor fractures. At the same time, falls from greater heights can leave workers with more debilitating injuries, such as concussions, compound fractures, and broken necks and backs.
One out of five falls causes a serious injury, according to the CDC. These types of injuries often mean a worker will have a permanent disability, brain damage, or paralysis. Others do not survive the initial fall or die later while being treated or waiting for medical treatment.
But regardless of the type of fall a worker experiences, these types of accidents have the potential to lead to massive medical bills. For example, concerning the roofing industry, a report from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed that falls from elevations by roofers cost an average of $106,000.
What Happens After a Falling Death?
If a family member or someone you know lost their lives in a fall, you might be experiencing a combination of shock, anger, and grief. But loved ones of fall victims may also wonder what happens after a falling death or whether they are within their rights to file a wrongful death lawsuit. After a person has died in a fall, the police will investigate the scene to determine the cause of the fall. In some cases, falls occur after a medical event such as a heart attack or heat stroke, which means you will need coroner reports in addition to police reports.
In other cases, fall deaths may occur due to negligence on the part of a third party. You should seek legal advice if you believe your relative may have died due to third-party negligence. Talk to an experienced construction site accident attorney to understand the sensitive nature of wrongful death cases. Such attorneys work hard to help clients seek justice and maximum compensation for their lost loved ones.
What Happens After a Nonfatal Fall?
If you or someone you know experienced a fall on a construction site, you may be dealing with expensive and painful injuries, emotional trauma, or both. As supervisors and fellow employees attempt to understand what happened, it’s common for victims of on-the-job accidents to hear a litany of questions from everyone around them.
Some may have your best interests at heart, while others may be looking to place blame. But if you’ve suffered an injury in a fall, it’s important to acknowledge that what happened to you is not your fault.
You deserve understanding and compassion, regardless of the circumstances, and competent legal representation. Accidents happen every day and are especially common in the construction industry. Often, the negligent actions of a third party can make them liable. In this case, you should contact an injury attorney to seek advice and learn whether you may be entitled to compensation.
What is a Third-Party Claim?
You might file a third-party compensation if you suffered an injury on the job.
Third-party claims are lawsuits filed against individuals or companies (other than a worker’s own employer) that may be considered partially or fully at fault for an accident that caused an injury.
Below are a few examples of fall-related third-party claim scenarios.
- Suppose you fell from a ladder that was defective and became injured. As a result, you can sue the ladder manufacturer.
- If the floor beneath you collapsed and you became injured after falling through, you may pursue a claim against the architects or engineers responsible for any structural design flaws.
- If a slip and fall hazard, such as a hole or exposed pipes, led to your injury, you can file a lawsuit against the property owner for failure to provide a safe work environment.
Do not let the insurance company lowball you with the initial settlement offer. You deserve full compensation for your injuries. Speak with an experienced construction site accident attorney about your case as soon as possible.
What to Do if You’ve Suffered an Injury in a Fall on a Construction Site
You may be interested in filing a third-party claim to seek damages for your fall injuries.
However, there are a few necessary steps you should take as soon as possible after the accident to possibly do so.
- First, seek medical attention. This is important because minor injuries can become more serious complications if left untreated.
- Next, report the incident to your manager. Ensure to include only relevant details in your report, as too much information can sometimes offer more opportunities for legal opponents to poke holes in your story later on.
- Gather evidence and documentation. You should compile evidence such as photos, reports, witness statements, and medical bills and save them soon as possible. This is something your lawyer can help you with if needed.
Never Talk to Insurance Companies
Before and during your third-party litigation, always avoid talking to any insurers. Insurance companies may contact you in an attempt to extract details from you about your case.
On the surface, it may seem like they’re acting in your best interests. But remember that any insurer representing the defendant can use anything you say against you during legal proceedings. This is why letting your attorney handle correspondence with insurance companies once your case is underway is important.
Why You Should Pursue a Third-Party Claim
A third-party claim is the best course of action for workers who believe their injuries were partially or fully the fault of someone other than their employer. Several factors make third-party claims a viable option.
First, workers’ compensation laws don’t protect third parties or subcontractors, so filing a lawsuit against them is within your rights. Also, there is no arbitrary limit on the amount you can claim in a third-party lawsuit, so payouts for injured workers tend to be higher.
This is on top of the fact that litigants can sue for more than just economic damages. For example, in addition to medical bills and lost income, injured workers can seek compensation for pain and suffering, disfigurement, or punitive damages. If you’ve suffered an injury in a fall on a construction site, you are likely entitled to a third-party claim.
Call a Construction Site Accident Attorney to File a Third-Party Claim
Once you’ve received medical treatment, reported the accident, and gathered as much evidence as possible, you can proceed to the litigation stage. This unfamiliar process may seem daunting and complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.
Knowledgeable construction site accident attorneys have extensive experience handling complex injury cases. They will listen to your account of the events surrounding your accident, provide informed advice, and help you move your case forward.
Contact a personal injury lawyer in San Antonio today for your free case review and discuss how to get the compensation and justice you deserve. Act now to avoid missing the deadline to file your claim.