Construction is well understood to be potentially hazardous work. Construction workers often have to work at great heights and around a variety of power equipment, heavy trucks and other motorized vehicles. Hazardous working conditions, faulty equipment, lack of safety precautions or human error can lead to injury or death on a construction site. Of 4,405 worker fatalities in 2013, one out of every five occurred in the construction industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There were also hundreds of accidents at road construction sites. Fatal work injuries in construction accounted for the highest number in any industry, the BLS says. Construction workers sustained more than 82,000 injuries in 2013 that resulted in at least one day of lost work.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) groups the leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites as the fatal four accidents. These four types of accidents were responsible for nearly 58 percent of the construction worker deaths in 2013, the BLS reports. They also account for thousands of nonfatal injuries. The fatal four accidents are:
Road work is a type of construction that poses its own dangers. Highway work zones should be designed to prevent accidents by establishing traffic control plans, warning motorists of work zones to reduce the speed of motor vehicles, guiding traffic safely through the work zone, and returning passing vehicles to normal traffic flow. OSHA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) have adopted rules and regulations, and provide training for establishing safe highway work zones. OSHA says highway, road, street, bridge, tunnel, utility, and other workers who build and maintain highway infrastructure are exposed to hazards from outside and inside the work zone. The most prevalent injury hazard is from being struck by vehicles or equipment in work zones, including passing traffic as well as construction vehicles. The FHA’s Work Zone Safety Clearinghouse says there were 69 fatalities in Florida highway work zones caused by motor vehicle accidents in 2013, including seven nonfatal injuries and 579 work zone fatalities caused by motor vehicles nationwide in 2013.
A construction worker who has been injured on the job, or the family of a construction worker who has died from job-related injury or illness, is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Florida Workers’ Compensation pays benefits to replace lost wages and medical costs, and for vocational rehabilitation or retraining if necessary. Families of deceased workers receive money to cover expenses related to their loss and payments to replace a portion of the wages provided by a breadwinner. Workers’ compensation is a state-run no-fault insurance program that employers must provide to most employees. Because workers’ compensation exists, an injured employee is typically barred from suing an employer after an occupational injury, even if the employer may have caused the accident through negligence. However, it is important for construction workers and others to understand that they may seek compensation from other parties who are responsible for their injuries.
Multiple subcontractors often work on a construction site at the same time. A third party lawsuit seeks compensation from a non-employer responsible for a worker’s injuries in an occupational accident. This may include another sub-contractor on a construction site, such as is often hired to erect and dismantle scaffolding, for example. In a highway work zone, a passing motorist who causes an accident may be held liable in a third-party lawsuit. In other construction site motor vehicle accidents, any vehicle operator who was negligent may be held liable in some cases if he or she is not the injured worker’s employer. A settlement obtained through a third party claim after a construction accident may provide more compensation than is available through workers’ compensation. Third party claims are not tied to workers’ comp laws, which dictate payments to injured workers or survivors of deceased workers. For example, a third-party negligence claim can include compensation for pain and suffering, which workers’ compensation does not pay.
A thorough investigation of your construction site or highway work zone accident can help ensure you obtain all of the workers’ compensation you are due as well as any additional compensation available from third parties. The Disparti Law Group’s construction accident attorneys can investigate your accident to assist and advise you about seeking the compensation you deserve.
During an initial consultation, which is free, we will review the specifics of your accident and discuss your legal options. If we determine that we can handle your case, we will represent you on a contingent fee basis. You will not be charged for legal fees or costs unless we obtain compensation for you through a settlement or court award. At that time, the fee for our legal representation will come from a percentage of the final award. If you’ve gotten hurt on a construction site, call a Tampa construction accident lawyer at the Disparti Law Firm today.