No one should have to sacrifice life or health in order to earn a paycheck, but that’s exactly what workers in some of the nation’s most dangerous occupations do.
A case in point is the construction industry, responsible for approximately one in every five of the nation’s work-related fatalities and countless other debilitating and catastrophic injuries.
Construction Industry Injury and Fatality Statistics
Here are some unsettling facts and statistics from OSHA, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CDC, and various other industry sources that reveal the dangers of choosing a career path in construction:
- According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 874 fatal injuries occurred on construction sites in 2014, up 5 percent from the previous year.
- Falls are the number one cause of accidental construction fatalities.
- A person who works in construction for a typical 45-year career has a 1 in 200 chance of dying from a job-related injury or medical condition.
- The construction industry is second in the nation for on-the-job deaths of workers under age 18.
- One in every ten construction workers is injured in the United States every year.
- A million construction workers filed workers’ compensation claims in 2014 for on-the-job injuries and illnesses.
- The most common OSHA violation on construction sites is a lack of fall protection.
- Construction workers make up about 15 percent of all reported cases of lead poisoning in the U.S.
The Fatal Four
Four types of accidents in the construction industry cause the greatest number of fatalities and injuries, dubbed “the fatal four:” falls, crushing, electrocution, and caught-in-between accidents.
These four accident types are currently responsible for 60.6 percent of all construction-related deaths. If these preventable accidents were eliminated, it could save about 545 workers’ lives every year.
Other Construction Accident Types
These are some of the types of injuries that often occur at construction sites, causing death and disability:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis including paraplegia, tetraplegia (quadriplegia)
- Neck and back injuries, including herniated discs
- Electrical injuries; burns
- Crush injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Broken Bones or Fractures
- Tendon and joint injuries
Construction injuries and fatalities can often be attributed to the negligence of someone other than the injured worker and could have been prevented. In many cases, OSHA violations are involved, with essential safety standards being ignored at the site. These are the areas in which the most common OSHA standards violations occur that may result in serious construction site accidents.
- Lack of fall protection
- Poor communication regarding hazards at the site
- Improperly installed or secured scaffolding
- Failure to provide respiratory protection
- Failure to use proper procedures for control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout)
- Unsafe operation of powered industrial trucks (forklifts and power lift trucks)
- Unsafe use of ladders
- Failure to observe safe electrical wiring methods
- Lack of effective machine guarding (barriers to protect workers from dangerous machine components)
- Failure to observe other OSHA general electrical safety requirements
A worker who is injured on any job, including construction sites, will usually first make a claim for Worker’s Compensation to cover medical bills and lost wages.
The advantage of Workers’ Comp is that you don’t have to prove any wrongdoing to collect the benefits you need. The downside is that Workers’ Comp does not cover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, and you are not allowed to sue your employer for these damages.
The rare exception is if your injury was caused by your employer’s deliberate and willful misconduct, in which case the prohibition might be overcome. This is something you need to discuss with an attorney.
Another limitation of Workers’ Compensation is that while it does entitle you to lifetime medical benefits, the compensation for your lost wages is capped.
This restriction does not exist in a civil personal injury cause of action, in which you may pursue uncapped lifetime loss of earnings and earning potential, along with non-economic damages, including pain and suffering; and in some especially serious cases of blatant recklessness and disregard for your life, health, and well-being, a jury may award you punitive damages, which are not possible under Workers’ Comp.
Identifying Third Party Defendants
In order to recover those damages that are excluded from a Workers’ Compensation claim, your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of the activity at the job site in order to determine if there are third parties—that is, parties other than your employer—who may have contributed to your accident, for example a subcontractor who created or allowed a hazardous situation at the site, or a company that manufactured a defective piece of equipment that injured you.
Third parties can be sued in civil court, and if they can be proven to have contributed to your accident, you may be able to recover significantly more than a Comp claim would allow. This is an area where having an experienced construction accident attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
Getting the Legal Help You Need When You’ve Been Injured on a Construction Job Site
If you have been injured on a construction site or have lost a close family member in a construction-related accident in the Baltimore, Maryland area, you will find the experienced legal help you need at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice.
Our results-oriented, client-centered law firm is committed to obtaining the most inclusive settlement or verdict the law allows for each client we represent. We will assist you in filing for your Workers’ Compensation benefits and will conduct a thorough investigation of your accident, with an eye to identifying all potential third party defendants.
We will work hard to negotiate the best possible settlement with defendant (s) insurance companies and will keep you involved and informed throughout the legal process. Randolph Rice has a record of achieving successful outcomes for his clients, either through negotiated out-of-court settlements or favorable jury verdicts when a trial is necessary to obtain a fair and adequate monetary award.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we are committed to achieving justice for the injured in every case we accept. The initial consultation is always completely free, and you only pay us for our work when you receive your compensation check. You will have no out-of-pocket expenses, and if you don’t win money, you will owe us nothing. Call us in Baltimore today! (410) 694-7291.