Safety on the job is a right, and those rights are protected by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Nonetheless, workers are injured in construction accidents daily. And the lawsuits that follow are some of the most complex to navigate. Here are some of the basics you should know.
TYPES OF CLAIMS/SUITS RESULTING FROM CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENTS
- Workers’ Compensation: Injured employees in Indiana are entitled to worker’s compensation, so Indiana law does not allow injured workers to sue their employers in regular court for their negligence. However, there are situations when an unrelated person or company caused your injury where you can sue the third party while you are entitled to worker’s compensation.
- Personal Injury: As previously mentioned, If a third party was negligent (and this negligence led to the injury), you may file a lawsuit. In this situation, you have a personal injury case.
- Product Liability: If the injury was caused by a product, you might have a product liability case. Three types of product liability are design defects, manufacturing defects, and failure to warn
- Design defect liability comes from products that, although perhaps correctly manufactured, have flaws in the product’s design that causes harm.
- Manufacturing defect liability is product liability where a product has been incorrectly manufactured in a way that causes harm.
- Failure to warn liability is product liability in which the manufacturer has insufficiently warned against potential hazards of using their product.
- Wrongful Death: If a worker dies on the job, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed by a “real party of interest.” This party may include spouses, children, step-children, parents, and other close relatives of the decedent. The representative who brings the lawsuit must prove the death was caused by the fault of another, be it negligence or intentional action.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON ACCIDENTS IN CONSTRUCTION?
Construction accidents can be a real-life nightmare in any construction zone. Safety is every worker’s top priority, causing anyone in their shoes to think about the various available safety mechanisms within their workplace environment. It’s natural to ask, “What are the most common accidents in construction?” and “What are the steps I can take if I’m injured?” If you’ve experienced a worksite injury due to company negligence, our construction accident lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve.
- FALLS. Major construction accidents can cause long-term injuries with devastating impacts. And unfortunately, falls contribute to the most wounds on a construction site. According to the CDC’s 2019 Construction Statistics report, “Falls are the leading cause of work-related deaths in construction, accounting for more than one in three (36.4%) of the total number of fatalities in this industry (401 of the 991 construction fatalities recorded in 2019 were falls to a lower level).” They’re more likely to occur in working conditions with unprotected openings, tripping hazards, and risky scaffolding.
- LACK OF PROPER PROTECTION. Many construction site accidents result from a lack of protection and proper adherence to safety guidelines. OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations require stable harnesses (for workers elevated six feet or higher), secure guard rails, and personal protective equipment (hard hats, gloves, safety glasses, face shields, etc.). These are only a few of the mandatory safety precautions required by construction sites to ensure a safe working environment.
- MACHINERY ACCIDENTS. Construction requires heavy machinery with several potential hazards that accompany it. Onsite training, while highly effective, cannot eliminate every set of circumstances that place workers at risk. This is where the company’s expected to vet its safety rules, training regulations, and machinery worksite usage. Sophisticated equipment requires sophisticated training and quality safety gear. Anything less than OSHA’s standards places workers at high risk.
- STRUCK BY OR CAUGHT IN BETWEEN OBJECTS. Large objects and equipment in construction (although a necessity) can add extra hazards to construction sites. Workers are at risk of fractures, amputations, and fatal accidents whenever struck by or caught in between these objects. Some of the worst construction fatalities come from cave-ins of unprotected trenches and excavations, being trapped, crushed, or thrown from heavy equipment, or workers caught between unguarded, moving parts. It’s vital for construction companies to provide proper labeling, training, tools, and equipment to minimize these risks.
OTHER COMMON CAUSES OF CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENTS
- Falling debris
- Machinery malfunction
- Using the wrong equipment
- Heat stress
- Hazardous noise levels
- Explosions or fires
- No or insufficient training
- Insufficient staffing
WHO CAN BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DAY-TO-DAY HEALTH AND SAFETY OF CONSTRUCTION SITES?
You might be wondering, “Who is responsible for the day-to-day health and safety of construction sites?” Before answering that question, we must clarify what “day-to-day supervision” truly means. This specific phrase covers the person or entity responsible for supervising the output, product, or result of an employee’s work alongside any details, means, methods, and processes by which that work is to be completed. This means OSHA’S record-keeping regulations apply to any contractor, employer, or supervisor responsible for overseeing the worker’s daily progress. These individuals must also keep track of any recordable employee illnesses or injuries. Because employers with worker’s compensation insurance cannot be sued except under certain circumstances, most often, a third party is named in lawsuits. Commonly those third parties are:
- Construction Site Owner(s)
- General and Subcontractors
- Prime Contractors
- Architects and Engineers
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE INJURED IN A CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT?
Onsite injuries can be a terrifying consequence of hazardous work environments. It’s vital to get immediate medical attention. As soon as possible, report the injury to the employer, get information from any witness(es), and take photos showing the injury, location, and any equipment involved. Consult with an attorney experienced in complex cases to help determine whether and who you can hold liable.
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