All workplaces can be dangerous, but the construction industry is especially so given the type of work employees perform. Injuries are common, and while workers’ compensation is usually responsible for covering the costs associated with those injuries, an employer may not be the only party responsible.
If you were injured in an incident that happened on a construction site, there are other parties that may ultimately be held responsible for the accident, including third-party contractors, property owners or equipment manufacturers.
If so, you can file a personal injury lawsuit on top of workers’ compensation, which is important given that workers’ comp covers medical bills and lost wages, but doesn’t cover pain and suffering or other types of damages. Personal injury lawsuits are especially important for independent contractors, who are ineligible for workers’ compensation.
Common construction injuries
Construction workers are at risk of falling victim to a variety of different injuries, and according to TIME magazine, roofing and other general construction work is the fourth most dangerous job in the United States, with 48.5 deaths per 100,000 workers. (Logging is the nation’s most dangerous job, with 135.9 fatalities per 100,000 workers.)
Some common construction injuries include:
- Falls. Workers can fall from scaffolding, roofs, ladders, cranes, and different stories, especially if adequate safety features aren’t in place.
- Falling objects. It is not rare for workers to be struck by tools or construction materials that fall from higher stories, but even with the appropriate safety equipment in place such as hardhats, such materials can cause significant injuries, especially brain and spinal cord damage.
- Equipment accidents. Heavy equipment is a dangerous part of any job, especially if equipment is aging, accidently topples over because it is carrying too heavy of a load, or workers fail to use it properly.
- Pedestrian accidents. Because heavy equipment operators often have large blind spots because of the size of the equipment, workers are at risk of being run over by a truck backing out of a construction site, especially if they are wearing hearing protection and fail to hear the truck moving.
- High exposure to lead. Between 2002 and 2008, construction workers were responsible for 16 percent of those with elevated concentrations of lead in their blood.
- Respiratory diseases. Construction workers have a higher risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), mostly due to higher levels of exposure to asbestos and silica dust.
Other construction site hazards include fires or explosions caused by chemical leaks, building collapses during demolition or construction, or heat stroke, which can lead to brain damage or death.
Working in colder climates can lead to hypothermia and frostbite, resulting in the loss of fingers, toes or parts of the face if adequate protection isn’t provided.
Paralysis from falls, amputations, hearing loss, broken bones, burns, eye injuries, laceration, and wrongful death are also potential construction site risks.
If I was injured, what steps should I take?
Employees of a company can file workers’ compensation claims to cover the costs of their medical care and lost wages, while independent contractors will be forced to pursue a personal injury lawsuit for compensation if they can prove that any one of the parties involved in their accident was in any way negligent.
Having a personal injury attorney can help injured parties determine what legal avenues to take, and which will be most successful in court.