According to a 2014 Washington, D.C.-based Bureau of Labor Statistics press release, the construction industry has the highest fatality rate of any industry in the U.S. In 2013, the construction industry saw a total of 796 fatal injuries with more than 100 more deaths than the next highest industry fatality rate in transportation and warehousing. Within the construction industry, general construction laborers are the most at risk for injury or death on the job.
These statistics are frightening, and the reality is that most construction accidents could have been prevented. Washington-based OSHA standards are in place to prevent most construction workplace accidents. Many of the primary causes of injury, including the fatal four—falls, struck by an object, electrocution, and caught-in/between—can be prevented if proper care is taken and OSHA standards are followed.
DEALING WITH A CONSTRUCTION-SITE INJURY
When someone is injured or killed at a construction site, the ramifications can extend to family members and last a lifetime. Work-related injuries can cause loss of income, chronic pain, extensive medical expenses, a decrease in quality of life and psychological suffering. Legal advice and workers’ compensation insurance can remedy the loss of income and medical expenses, but a worker can never get back his health and/or quality of life after a serious job-site injury.
Liability becomes an important legal issue after a construction-site injury and is generally determined by the following factors:
- The responsibility of the general contractor to provide a safe work environment.
- The responsibility of other subcontractors to act in a responsible and safe manner.
- The responsibility of the worker to act in a responsible and safe manner.
Other parties that may be held liable in workplace injury claims include the employer, architects, engineers and equipment manufacturers. In some cases, fault lies with more than one party and navigating a construction injury claim without the aid of a knowledgeable attorney is nearly impossible.
A personal injury or workers’ compensation attorney working on a construction case generally does the majority of casework before a case is ever presented in court. The attorney must carefully investigate every detail of the accident independent of the insurance investigation and the injured worker’s employer investigation. The evidence presented in construction-accident cases often determines a worker’s or worker’s family’s ability to be made whole for medical expenses, lost income, legal fees and more.