Construction is the literal building block of any country. It creates communities, housing, and safe buildings for commercial and industrial use. Without the construction industry, there would be no modern civilization.
Yet most people fail to appreciate the importance of construction workers or the risks they take daily. Any construction site is dangerous, which is why it pays well. However, that won’t matter much if you sustain a single serious injury. Medical expenses alone can wipe out any money earned and saved.
Most states have standard and safety equipment laws in place to prevent heavy machinery and fall from height accidents. Identifying, regulating, and eliminating hazards in construction is the role of OSHA or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. However, construction site accidents still happen.
The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reported that 2.5 out of 100 full-time construction workers suffered non-fatal injuries in 2020. In Florida, 82 people died in 2020 from work-related injuries, some of which were preventable.
In most cases, workers’ compensation insurance can provide financial benefits for construction height accidents. However, if negligence is involved, you might be able to file a personal injury claim. An experienced construction accident attorney from Diamond & Diamond can help you.
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Causes of Construction Accidents
Construction workers can get hurt in a myriad of ways. They are highly skilled at what they do, but it’s the nature of the job. In some cases, the injuries of construction accident victims are serious enough to warrant filing a personal injury case. The following are the most common causes of construction accidents:
- Falls (high, low, same height) – A lot of construction work requires working at height, typically on uneven or unstable surfaces. Workers are routinely on scaffolds, ladders, and rooftops and 70.9% of construction-related fatalities in 2020 were due to falls.
- Struck-by accidents – About 9% of construction accident fatalities in Florida are due to contact with objects. Tools, nuts, bolts, scaffolding, or debris falling, rolling, swinging, or flying can result in severe injuries to workers. Struck-by accidents may also be due to contact with heavy equipment or vehicles.
- Electrocutions – Working on homes, buildings, and other structures with lights and outlets means exposed wires and power lines. An unguarded movement can put workers in contact with them and give them a nasty, if not fatal, shock. One report states that 55 fatalities in the construction industry were due to electric shock in 2020.
- Caught in-between accidents – These accidents involve workers caught between objects such as a wall and machinery, or a body part pulled into or under machinery. The accident may be due to cave-ins, poor wall construction, malfunctioning equipment, inadequate scaffold support, or inadequate training.
- Machinery accidents – Workers routinely use handheld and heavy equipment like jackhammers, nail guns, drills, bulldozers, and cranes. Any of these can cause serious injuries to inexperienced users.
- Work stress – Long hours and adverse weather conditions can put a lot of strain on physical health. Dehydration, dizzy spells, fainting, and strokes are not uncommon on construction sites.
Common Injuries on Construction Sites
The BLS recorded 55,790 non-fatal injuries and 1,034 fatal injuries in the construction industry for 2020. The following are the most common injuries to workers:
- Sprains, strains, and tears – The most common construction accident injuries are sprains, strains, and tears, with 20,640 cases in 2020. Construction work is physically taxing even for skilled workers, and something often gives, such as knees, shoulders, and back. While most are minor injuries, some can limit mobility permanently.
- Fractures – Constructions sites reported 9,710 cases of fractures in 2020. Some incidents were due to the incorrect operation or securing of heavy equipment such as bulldozers, cranes, and other equipment. Others were due to falls, slips, struck-by accidents, and caught in-between incidents.
Fractures can occur in multiple body parts, such as the head, back, hand, knees, and legs. In extreme cases, it can lead to long-term or permanent disabilities due to traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries.
- Cuts and lacerations – If you have ever handled a saw, you know how easy it is to get cuts and scrapes. Construction workers get cuts and scratches all the time, especially if the tools are not well-maintained. Other construction site hazards include exposed nails and screws, sharp metal edges, and unsecured machinery.
When these cuts lead to infection and are not treated immediately, they can lead to sepsis and death. There were 7,780 cases of deep cuts and lacerations reported in 2020 that resulted in lost days of work.
- Bruises and contusions – Most people think nothing of bruises or contusions sustained on the construction site. In most cases, a well-placed ice pack can take care of it. However, the 3,470 incidents in 2020 were serious enough to result in lost work days. Severe cases can lead to internal organ damage that requires immediate medical attention.
- Loss of limbs or digits – Getting your hand or foot caught in machinery can lead to losing a hand, foot, arm, leg, toes, or fingers. That can limit a worker’s physical mobility significantly.
- Loss of hearing – Construction sites tend to be noisy. Constant exposure to jackhammers, drills, cranes, bulldozers, and other loud equipment without protective equipment can lead to hearing loss. Physical contact with the head or ear can also cause significant damage to a person’s hearing.
- Stress injuries – Stress injuries can result from repetitive lifting or bending movements. These injuries can result in permanent health issues for workers.
- Heat stroke – Most construction sites operate year-round, meaning exposure to extreme temperatures. When workers labor under the hot summer sun, it can lead to heat stroke. Sufferers feel lightheaded, nauseous, and faint, increasing the risk of falling, slipping, and mistakes in operating equipment. Heat stroke can also be deadly if left untreated.
Isn’t Workers’ Compensation Enough?
Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law requires construction companies with four or more employees to pay for workers’ compensation insurance. Construction workers can receive medical and disability benefits without proving fault when a work-related injury occurs. In other words, provided the injury is work-related, the covered employee can claim benefits from the insurance company.
However, workers’ compensation benefits cover only economic damages such as medical bills, prescription drugs, and 66% of lost wages. It does not cover pain, suffering, emotional distress, and other non-economic damages.
Unfortunately, workers’ comp is the only way for workers to recover financial losses from employers in most cases. However, exceptions exist, such as if the employer does not provide workers’ comp insurance. Other exceptions would be if the injury was intentional or caused by a third party, such as a general contractor. In such cases, you might have legal rights to make a personal injury claim.
A personal injury lawsuit is more complicated than a workers’ comp claim because you need to prove liability. However, you might be able to get substantial non-economic damages if you win the case.
Consult a Diamond Law Miami Construction Accident Attorney Today
Construction accident cases are common, and the injuries range from minor to severe. In some cases, it can lead to permanent disability or wrongful death. Workers’ compensation ensures the injured party gets benefits promptly. However, the case is different if you don’t have workers’ comp or the injury is due to negligence of subcontractors. When this happens, what can you do?
Consult with an experienced construction accident attorney from Diamond Law Miami. You might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to get fair compensation for your losses.
Diamond Law Miami represents injured construction workers, car accidents, and other personal injury cases. We have years of experience handling cases that win in many areas of North America. We are the advocates you need if you or a loved one needs someone to protect your legal rights in a construction accident.
Contact Diamond Law Miami for a free consultation to get the best legal advice and guidance.