Between heavy machinery, elevated work zones, and exposure to hazardous substances, construction sites are inherently dangerous. And these are just a few of the many risks facing construction workers every day.
According to accident data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 21,000 construction and excavation workers were seriously injured in 2022. And fatal construction accidents were at a five-year high that same year.
A serious construction accident injury can be life-changing in so many ways. Beyond the physical pain and disability, injured construction workers may have costly medical bills, lost income, and emotional distress that comes from experiencing a traumatic event.
Keep reading to learn more about common construction accidents, liability for workplace injuries, and steps you can take to recover compensation if you’ve been hurt on the job.
OSHA’s Focus Four: The Most Common Construction Accidents Reported in the U.S.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the four leading types of construction accidents reported in the United States. Combined, they account for 34 percent of all workplace injuries.
OSHA’s “Focus Four” construction accidents are:
This category includes workers who fall because of unprotected holes or sides, unstable or improperly constructed walking surfaces, and those who fall off ladders, scaffolding, and roofs. Falls are the leading cause of fatal construction accidents in this country, and there are more nonfatal falls in construction than all private sector industries combined, according to the BLS.
Slip and fall accidents occur when scaffolding and other equipment is not constructed properly, or it malfunctions. Workers can fall on wet or slippery surfaces, or when walking paths are blocked by construction materials or trash.
Construction workers who work at heights are also required to wear fall protection. If this gear is not provided, or it malfunctions, the risk of serious injury increases significantly.
Stuck by Objects
Construction zones have a lot of moving parts, and lax safety procedures or faulty equipment can cause machinery and building materials to strike workers directly. One in ten construction fatalities happen due to a misplaced, falling, or swinging object.
These accidents cause crushing injuries, including broken bones, spinal injuries, and traumatic brain injury.
The risk of electrical burns, shock, and electrocutions is high on many construction sites due to the presence of overhead power lines, energized circuit parts and conductors, and power tools.
Workers and management who don’t practice proper lock-out / tag-out procedures endanger others if they don’t shut down dangerous equipment and ensure it can’t accidentally be powered on.
Caught In / Between
The final category of “Focus Four” construction accidents involves those that happen when workers become trapped in between tools, devices, and machines. They also include injuries due to falling structures, trench or excavation collapses, and workers who are caught in moving or rotating machinery.
Communication on the job site can help workers stay aware of potential hazards. They should also remember to keep fingers, hair, and clothing away from pinch points in construction equipment and tools.
Who Is Liable for a Construction Accident?
OSHA sets and enforces specific guidelines to prevent all types of construction accidents and keep workers safe. But it’s not just up to the construction company and the employees to maintain a safe job site.
Multiple people (or “parties”) must all do their part to ensure they are following safety procedures to protect themselves and others from harm. When a worker gets hurt, it is important to determine what went wrong and who was responsible.
Liability for a construction accident may rest with:
- Architects and engineers
- Equipment manufacturers
- Property owners
- Construction companies
- Contractors and/or sub-contractors
How Is Liability Determined in Construction Site Accidents?
New Jersey construction accident lawyers at Harrell Injury Law investigate all of the evidence to determine liability after a construction accident. That includes photos and camera footage from the accident scene, first-hand eyewitness accounts, and medical records related to the injury.
If they determine someone breached their duty to act in a safe and responsible manner— and that careless act led to an accident, the injured victim can sue the at-fault party. The goal of a construction injury lawsuit is to hold the negligent party legally accountable for financial compensation (or damages.)
Possible Compensation for Construction Accident Lawsuits
Compensation in a personal injury lawsuit includes economic and noneconomic losses. They are calculated to reflect all of the ways a severe injury has impacted a person’s life.
Economic damages are financial losses stemming from an accident and injuries: costs for medical care, property damage, and lost wages.
If a construction accident caused permanent disability, compensation for future damages for ongoing care may also be awarded.
Non-economic damages refer to pain and suffering related to a serious injury. Mental trauma, emotional distress, scarring and disfigurement may all be compensable if they affect the injured plaintiff’s quality of life.
In cases of significant disregard for the safety of others, punitive damages may also be awarded to “punish” the liable party.
Every case and every settlement or verdict is unique. A case review with an experienced construction injury attorney at Harrell Injury Law is the best way to assess damages for your injuries.
Personal Injury Claims vs. Worker’s Compensation Claims: What’s the Difference?
It’s important to note construction accident personal injury claims differ from worker’s Compensation claims. Personal injury lawsuits are legal disputes that occur when someone is harmed, and another person or organization is responsible. Some cases are resolved through informal settlements, while others are decided in civil court.
In worker’s compensation cases, someone is hurt or becomes ill due to work-related circumstances. However, fault is not necessarily a factor. For job-related accidents that do not involve a liable third party, you should report the accident to your employer and file a claim with your worker’s compensation insurance provider.
Harrell Injury Law lawyers manage construction accidents when a third party’s negligence led to your injuries. In some cases, an injured worker can bring a worker’s compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit for additional compensation.
Contact our team to schedule a consultation and learn more about the differences between personal injury cases and worker’s compensation claims and find out which applies to your situation.
Legal Representation Matters After a Construction Accident: How Harrell Injury Law Can Help
Construction accident cases in New Jersey are highly complex because they involve multiple parties.
Communicating with the insurance company can be intimidating and even confusing. If you are seriously hurt on the job, or develop an occupational illness, it makes sense to hire a New Jersey construction accident lawyer to protect your interests.
When you work with an experienced, knowledgeable attorney, you have peace of mind knowing they are working on your behalf, building a compelling case for compensation. Insurance companies who know you’re working with a lawyer may even be more willing to negotiate.
If you don’t pursue fair compensation for your condition, you may be left with mounting medical bills and no income to cover these expenses. A seasoned personal injury lawyer gathers all of the key evidence, presents a solid case, and advocates for you every step of the way.
You should not have to stress about a construction site accident. With a legal team working for you, you can focus on healing and moving forward.
What Makes Harrell Injury Law Different?
At Harrell Injury Law, you are more than just a case number. We have seen firsthand the impact a serious construction injury can have on a person’s health, employment, and overall quality of life. That’s why we take the time to listen to your concerns, and help you navigate what may be a challenging time.
We work diligently on your behalf to reach a good outcome for your case. We take pride in the personal connections we build with our clients and the trust they have in our team and our process.
A free consultation with a New Jersey personal injury lawyer is the most effective way to review your case and learn your options. Call or inquire online to schedule one today. Located in Wall Township, we represent clients in and around Howell Township, Monmouth County, and across New Jersey.