Construction work is a risky industry. Crews are constantly working on unstable structures, from heights, with electrical systems, and with heavy machinery and power tools. It is important that construction companies and contractors employ proper safety measures to protect employees and prevent accidents. However, even the safest construction site can have serious accidents and injuries occur.
Construction accidents reported in the Philadelphia area in May include:
- A construction worker fell through the roof of a University of Sciences building when part of it collapsed.
- On a job site in Center City Philadelphia, bricks fell off a platform five stories high and hit and injured a worker on the ground below.
Fortunately, workers seemed to have escaped catastrophic injuries. These accidents could have been much worse, however, as both falls and getting hit by objects commonly cause life-threatening injuries on construction sites. In fact, both are considered part of the industry’s “fatal four,” which cause the most work-related fatalities among construction workers. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are the leading cause of job-related death for construction workers, causing nearly 39 percent of fatalities. Getting struck by an object is the second-leading cause of death, resulting in about 10 percent of fatalities.
Common catastrophic injuries seen on construction sites include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – Construction workers frequently suffer head injuries falling from heights, as well as when hit in the head by falling objects. A blow to the head can result in serious injuries with devastating lifelong effects. This can include impairments with cognitive processing, behavioral control, physical movement, coma, and sometimes death.
- Spinal cord injury – Construction accidents also commonly result in injury to the spinal cord, which often causes permanent disability or paralysis. This means that a worker can lose their ability to move, feel sensation, and some organ function. Spinal cord injuries can leave construction accident victims unable to return to a physically demanding job, or even unable to care for themselves. Victims of paralyzing spinal injuries may need ongoing medical attention and assistive medical equipment – such as wheelchairs – for the rest of their lives.
The lifelong costs of these kinds of injuries can be extremely high. It is important for construction workers who sustain any type of on-the-job injury to understand their legal rights to recover compensation for their injuries to help pay those expenses.
Liability for Medical Expenses and Disabilities
Because of the inherent risks of the construction industry, employers are expected to adhere to strict safety regulations and standards. Unfortunately employers do not always do so. OSHA recently cited and sanctioned a Philadelphia contractor for multiple violations, including the risk of the following for workers:
- Getting struck by objects
- Electrical shock
- Dangerous use of ladders
- Dangerous use of compressed gas cylinders
- Obstructed exit routes
Due to the violations, the contractor faces up to $222,152 in penalties.
However, an injured worker does not have to prove the employer violated safety regulations to obtain compensation for work-related injuries. Instead, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides injured employees the right to seek compensation from their employer’s mandatory workers’ compensation insurance. While workers’ compensation works to prevent lawsuits against companies, it also allows employees to collect benefits without having to prove negligence or wrongdoing on the part of the employer. If an injury or illness was job-related, workers’ compensation insurance should cover the cost of your medical bills, lost income, and disability losses.
Workers’ compensation claims are not always as straightforward as they should be. Insurers and employers can try to avoid liability by questioning the cause of your injury, the severity of your injury, and more. Injured workers may be dealing with doctors selected by their employer, and a large commercial workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Both employers and their insurers may try to limit payouts to injured workers as much as possible. Workers’ compensation insurance carriers typically have a team of skilled attorneys on their side—and so should you. It is important to have the help of an experienced construction accident lawyer for your claim, especially if you have suffered a lasting disability and cannot work for an extended period of time.
In addition, there may be other avenues to recover compensation for your losses. Many construction accidents happen because of the negligence of a third party. Unlike your employer, these negligent parties are not protected from lawsuits and liability just because you were on the job. Instead, you may be able to file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against negligent individuals or companies to recover for your losses. In such cases, you can also seek compensation for noneconomic damages – such as pain and suffering – in addition to your medical expenses and lost wages. Some types of negligence that may cause a construction accident typically include:
- Defective tools or materials
- Defective safety equipment
- Dangerous drivers in construction zones
- Careless acts of contractors or subcontractors other than your employer
Because liability for a construction accident can be a complicated matter, you need a skilled work injury attorney evaluating your rights and options as soon as possible.
Learn More From Our Philadelphia Construction Accident Attorneys
There are deadlines for both workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits in Pennsylvania. These are strict deadlines that limit the time you have to seek compensation. Do not delay—even though you are recovering from a serious construction injury, you should still contact an attorney as soon as you can after an accident. The Levin Firm represents injured construction workers in and around the Philadelphia area. We offer free consultations and will evaluate your case at absolutely no charge and advise you of the best course of action for recovery in your situation. Please call 215-825-5183 or contact us online for a free consultation today.