Massachusetts Construction and Job Site Accident Lawyer
Have you been injured in a serious job site construction accident and are wondering if and when you’ll ever be able to return to work? The costs for intensive medical care coupled with time away from the job can weigh heavily on your mind after a construction site injury.
Because the workers’ compensation system prohibits civil lawsuits for damages against an injured worker’s employer, many work-related accident victims overlook their litigation rights under the assumption that their workers’ comp benefits are all they stand to recover.
In the construction industry, however, it is common for injury accidents to result from the negligence of someone unrelated to the injured worker’s employer. As a result, construction workers often have the right to pursue both workers’ compensation benefits and personal injury damages in separate proceedings resulting from the same accident.
The Story Behind the Statistics – Construction Injuries
Every year in the United States, about 800 fatalities occur within the construction industry. In 2011, this number was a bit lower, with 781 deaths. However, in 2012 it was significantly higher with 849 deaths. This statistic, of course, does not cover the number of employees who lost a limb or suffered a debilitating injury while on the job. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Organization, construction worker deaths account for 20 percent of all work-related deaths in the United States. Of every five employees who die while on the job, one of them will have been at work doing construction. Construction-related deaths are so prevalent that OSHA has nicknamed the four leading causes of construction-related fatalities “the fatal four.” These include falls, getting struck by an object, electrocution, or getting caught in between an object on site.
$500,000 Construction Site Accident
Peter Ventura filed a lawsuit when a worker was injured from fallen debris at an industrial facility in Worcester, MA. In his mid-20s, the married male, suffered multiple level disc herniation/protrusion injuries, an aggravation of a pre-existing degenerative disc disease, with permanent impairments. Peter Ventura was able to resolve the case for $500,000.
Advising Construction, Repair and Maintenance Professionals in Massachusetts
The law firm of Peter Ventura, Attorney at Law, represents carpenters, electricians, roofers, landscapers, excavators, heavy equipment operators, highway workers, drivers and other construction professionals who have been injured on the job. While we take a prompt and proactive approach to the investigation and evaluation of your claims, our attention to detail and ability to resolve difficult issues relating to safety regulations, liability, damages or insurance coverage mean that we emphasize obtaining full and fair compensation for your claim over rushing into a fast settlement.
We advise clients about their rights and legal options under a wide range of construction and job site accidents including:
- Crane accidents
- Falls from a Ladder
- Scaffolding accidents
- Roofing Accidents
- Welding Accidents
- Forklift Accidents & Injuries
- Electrical Accidents
- Explosion Injuries at Work
- Improper Loading and Unloading
- Worksite Falls
- Falling Objects
- Struck by Heavy Equipment
- Construction Site Maintenance
- OSHA Violations
- Floor or Stair Collapse
- Heavy Equipment Accidents
- Defective Equipment
- Misuse of Tools
- Trench Collapses
- And More…
Types of Accidents
A construction site can be a very hazardous place. Between heavy machinery, moving parts, debris, loose dirt, and high elevations, when risks and safety precautions and procedures aren’t properly attended to, serious accidents and severe injury can result. This is true for anyone working at a construction site, but especially for crane operators who are moving around heavy objects at considerable heights.
Cranes are responsible for the highest number of struck-by hazards related to equipment in the workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, in 2008 at least 11% of all construction worker-related incidents involved employees who were struck by operating crane parts.
You have legal options if you sustained your injuries from one of the following types of crane accidents:
- dropped loads;
- boom collapse;
- rigging failures;
- crush injuries from counterweights; or
- contact with power lines.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has guidelines in place to protect construction workers from the many risks associated with cranes. When those guidelines are broken or not fully followed, it is important to determine whether your employer or a third party is responsible for the violation, as third parties can be held liable. While workers’ compensation insurance prevents you from suing your employer directly because you have received workers compensation benefits, that doesn’t mean you can’t file a personal injury claim against another party that caused your injuries.
Ladder and Construction Accidents
Count on Worcester personal injury attorney Peter Ventura to get you the compensation you deserve for your losses. He has over 25 years of aggressive legal representation for construction accident victims and others hurt from falls from ladders.
Ladder accidents in Massachusetts can have a profound impact on a victim’s life. Injuries are often serious and may range from broken bones to spinal cord damage or severe head trauma. The risks only increase with falls from greater heights. If you’ve experienced such an accident while on the job at a construction site or elsewhere, there’s also another very pressing concern: whether you’ll be able to return to work.
Although scaffolding is used routinely on many construction sites, when workers are injured in scaffolding accidents, the stories behind such accidents are often the same: Scaffolding is often assembled rather quickly and without great attention to detail. Negligence in erecting scaffolds usually leads to disastrous results. In 2009 alone, 54 fatalities occurred nationwide because of this type of construction site accident, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
When you’ve been seriously hurt in a scaffolding accident, it’s important to know that you may have options above and beyond filing a workers’ compensation claim. If a third party, such as a manufacturer, contractor, or subcontractor who assembled the scaffolding is to blame, you may also be able to file a personal injury claim to account for the toll the injuries have had on your life. Some of the most common injuries include:
- spinal cord injuries or herniated discs;
- crushed or broken bones; and
- traumatic brain injuries.
Perhaps the most troubling and frustrating aspect of all scaffolding accidents is that they often can be prevented. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets forth detailed guidelines and safety procedures for construction companies and other businesses to follow to prevent these serious accidents. When these guidelines are not followed, the chance for the following types of scaffolding accidents increases:
- falls (failure to use guardrails or fall arrest systems);
- electrocution (failure to keep scaffolding a safe distance from power lines);
- falling tools/debris (failure to use canopies, nets, screens, and panels to protect workers from debris); and
- scaffold collapse (a result of improper construction, overloading with too many workers and equipment, and inadequate safety checks).
Scaffolding accidents can be complex as they may involve persons and companies who manufactured and designed the scaffolding equipment as well as the persons and companies who set up and maintained such equipment at a particular construction or other work sites. Scaffolding accident cases often require expert witnesses such as safety consultants and accident reconstruction engineers to provide proof of liability.
Electricity is an integral part of the American workplace and, unfortunately, also has the potential to injure almost every member of the workforce, especially at construction sites. Electrical accidents result in a variety of injuries ranging from electrical shock and burn injuries to fatal electrocution.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health categorizes electrical accidents into four types:
- Fatal electrocutions
- Electrical shock
- Burn injuries
- Fall Accidents
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, it receives reports of as many as 300 fatal electrocutions in the workplace annually. There are also as many as 4,000 electrical injuries that occur in the American workplace each year.
The most dangerous aspect of electrical injuries is that they can affect just about any worker, from a crane operator at a construction site to a janitor in an office building. Electrical injuries can occur in any type of workplace or industry. Over the past decade alone, an estimated 46,000 workers have suffered injuries in electrical accidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has guidelines in place that are targeted at protecting employees from the very real risks of electrical shock and electrocution in the workplace. Workplaces must also be compliant with the Massachusetts State Building Code.
Types of Electrical Injuries
High wattage exposure to electricity can cause fatal electrocution. However, even electrical current of 50 volts can be sufficient to cause electrical shock. A person who suffers an electrical shock can have muscular spasms. The spasms can be severe enough to dislocate the person’s joints and even cause fractures. In such cases, the person may have no control over his body, and if the person is working near industrial vehicles in operation or near dangerous machinery, then he may be thrown in the path of the vehicle or into the machinery, with serious consequences. He may also suffer severe respiratory distress. The shock can be serious enough to send the heart into arrest.
Electrical shock can also result in deep tissue burn injuries. This occurs due to the electrical current passing through the body and burning tissue along the way.
Electrical sparks in the workplace can set off fires and explosions, especially in a volatile atmosphere, like the paint industry or other workplaces where there is an accumulation of gasses or vapors. A person who is exposed to electrical explosions can also suffer thermal burns.
To prevent electrical accidents, workers must be trained to use electrical tools and equipment safely and these tools must be maintained properly in order to prevent electrical shock risks from exposed wiring. Electrical equipment must be isolated from energy sources and lockout and tag out procedures must be implemented correctly.
Explosion hazards exist in a variety of employment and commercial settings. Examples include:
- workers handling petrochemicals and inflammable gasses,
- workers in an environment where grain dust and other combustibles are present,
- environments that have defective electrical equipment,
- private residences,
- apartment complexes, and
- retail and other business establishments serving the public.
No matter what the cause of the explosion these accidents result in some of the most devastating injuries, such as severe burns, crush injuries, and amputations.
There are a number of conditions in the workplace or elsewhere which can lead and contribute to an explosion. For instance, some of the most frequent causes of explosions that personal injury lawyers come across are:
- Accumulation of grain dust or sugar dust
- Improper handling and storage of flammable gasses, liquids or chemicals
- Defective electrical wiring
- Defective electrical equipment
- Overloading of fuses
- Defective gas lines
- Defective pipes
- Over pressurized boilers
Types of Injuries in Explosions
Some of the most common injuries that occur in an explosion are burns. These burns may vary in severity, depending on the location of the worker.
Workers who are located close to the site of the explosion are at the highest risk of suffering second and third-degree burns. A person with second-degree burns may suffer from blisters and painful and discolored swelling. However, in the case of a third-degree burn, there may be a complete destruction of all layers of the skin, nerves, and muscles. The person may never be able to use the affected limb, even after the burn has completely healed. There may be long-term scarring and disability.
If the explosion has been caused due to a chemical source, then there may be a risk of chemical burns. These burns are usually the result of the skin coming into contact with strong chemicals, like acids and alkaloids. Certain corrosive chemicals may be strong enough to dissolve the skin as soon as they come into contact with the skin.
What Employers and Property/Business Owners Should Do After an Explosion:
Containing damage after an explosion is of vital importance in limiting the number of injuries and fatalities. As soon as the explosion hazard has been detected employers or others in control of the property must arrange for the evacuation of all personnel. Lights and electrical equipment must not be switched on and matches must not be lit during the evacuation of the facility. Emergency rescue personnel must be alerted immediately.
Improper Loading and Unloading Accidents
Loading and unloading activities take place several times a day at a construction site. There may be pieces of equipment and tools to unload as well as the unloading of construction materials. These activities cannot be performed at random, but involve specific procedures that are established to minimize the risk of injury to the worker, reduce the risk of strain to specific sets of muscles, and maximize efficiency.
However, safety and ergonomics are often compromised in the name of efficiency and productivity, causing workers to be seriously injured.
All kinds of loading activities involve the use of locking mechanisms to stack the boxes properly and keep them in place. Typically, loading and unloading activity-related injuries can be caused when loads have been poorly secured or the locking mechanisms fail, making them difficult to unload or causing them to collapse.
Workers may also be at risk of repetitive stress injuries when they are engaged in such activities for long periods of time. Sometimes few workers may be assigned to these activities, leading to excessive strain on these workers who are required to load or unload large numbers of boxes for long periods of time. In such cases, workers may suffer from excessive muscle strain. Such strain over prolonged periods of time can lead to repetitive stress injuries, resulting in chronic back pain, carpel tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal conditions.
Falling Object Accidents
A “struck-by” hazard refers to any situation where a worker is in danger of being struck by a falling object or load. According to OSHA, in 2007 approximately 504 workers were killed by falling objects. The majority of these accidents occurred in the construction sector. Approximately 311 workers were killed in 2007 when they were struck by falling objects in the construction workplace. As many as a quarter of all the fatalities in the construction sector involved workers being struck by falling objects and approximately 10% of all occupational fatalities involve these hazards.
Those are staggering statistics which underscore just how deadly these injuries are. Struck-by hazards are some of the most neglected areas of workplace safety, but constitute one of the top four deadliest hazards in the workplace.
There are certain situations in which workers are at a much higher risk of being struck by objects. For instance, if you are working below an elevated work surface, you may be at risk of being injured by a falling tool or another object. Further, if you are a pedestrian worker and you’re working in an environment where loads are being moved overhead, you may be in danger of some of the objects from the load slipping and falling on you.
The kind of injuries that can result from being struck by falling objects can be very serious. For instance, a worker who is struck on the head, face, or shoulders by a load from several feet above can suffer brain injuries and/or neck injuries that leave him paralyzed or incapacitated for life.
Employers can take the following steps to prevent workers from being injured by objects falling on them:
- Train workers to make sure that they are at a safe distance from any suspended loads.
- Any materials that are being transported must be stacked carefully and securely to prevent falling loads.
- Falling objects can result from the use of power tools which cause small pieces of flying debris. Tools must be operated properly to minimize the risk of such hazards.
- Avoid walking under loads that are being lifted.
- Employers must cordon off areas where loads are being carried overhead.
Heavy Equipment Accidents
A struck-by hazard may affect a worker, resulting in severe injury or even death. For instance, when a nail gun is operated, it generates a great deal of force. These nails can bounce off surfaces and hit workers, causing serious injuries, such as eye injuries. In fact, any tools that make use of compressed air can pose a serious struck-by hazard.
Workers may be struck by bolts and nails that have come off equipment, hit by pump components, or even be injured when a massive gust of compressed air strikes them. Workers may also be injured when crane boom cables and jibs fall on them.
Workers must be trained to safely handle the kind of equipment that they’re operating. Very often, employers put new pieces of equipment into use to boost production and efficiency without putting workers through a proper training program. Many struck-by hazards are caused because workers operate equipment without being adequately aware of the risks involved.
Nonessential workers must be trained to keep away from heavy equipment in operation. All workers in an area must be alerted to the operation of industrial equipment.
Construction Site Accidents
A typical construction site is a home to several types of heavy industrial equipment, including cranes, forklifts, tractors, and trucks. There may be large amounts of construction debris, including construction materials and smaller construction tools. There may be scaffolding under construction and several ongoing construction activities. As a result, there may be holes or trenches in areas that are constantly used by construction workers for walking or working.
All of these conditions pose a serious risk for any construction worker. For instance, a worker may be at risk of injuries in an accident involving a collision with heavy industrial equipment, like a forklift. Accidents involving forklifts and workers are common on a construction site and can result in serious injuries or even death.
Workers may trip over construction debris, when there are no warning signs cautioning workers of these hazards, or when no efforts have been made to segregate material from working areas. Scaffolding that is poorly constructed can collapse causing severe injuries in the process. Workers can fall through open holes in floors and doors because these have not been covered adequately or because warning signs have not been posted around these holes.
Additionally, workers may be injured because of poorly maintained equipment and tools. Tools that come with torn insulation or exposed wiring can pose a serious risk of electrical injuries or electrocution to a worker. Additionally, workers may also be at risk due to an unsafe building layout, the lack of safe entries and exits, and unsafe slopes or inclines on the site.
All of these conditions can be eliminated or minimized if employers establish a strong risk and hazard management program that reduces accident and injury risks on the site. Many of these accidents can be avoided if workers are trained to recognize hazards and if basic, simple steps, like placing warning signs and caution signs, are implemented.
Construction Site Accident FAQs
1. Can I get worker’s compensation for a construction site injury?
Massachusetts has a “no-fault” workers’ compensation system, which means that if you are injured on the job and you qualify, you are entitled to benefits for your medical bills and lost wages. Whether you qualify will depend on a few factors relating to your employer and the nature of your employment. You can read more in our Workers’ Compensation FAQs.
2. Can I sue if worker’s compensation doesn’t cover all of my losses?
You generally won’t be able to sue your employer (except to enforce your right to worker’s compensation); however, depending on what happened, you may be able to sue numerous different parties for your construction site accident. Subcontractors, property owners, manufacturers, distributors, and various other parties may all be liable depending on what specifically caused your injuries.
Importantly, you can sue these companies even if you are also receiving worker’s compensation from your employer.
3. How much can I hope to recover for my construction accident injuries?
The specific amount of your damages will depend highly on the facts of your case. During our free case evaluation, we will seek to understand what happened so that we can get an idea of how much you may be entitled to recover for your losses. We may also recommend that you see certain doctors in order to determine the full scope of your injuries. While workers’ compensation benefits are limited, if someone besides your employer is to blame for your injuries we will want to have a complete understanding of your situation so that we can pursue maximum compensation.
4. Can I sue if I wasn’t working at the construction site where I was injured? What if my child was injured at a construction site?
Construction companies are required to secure their job sites in order to prevent injuries to pedestrians and children. If you or your child was injured at a construction site that had inadequate fencing or otherwise was not properly secured, you may have a claim for financial compensation.
5. What kinds of damages are available for victims of construction site accidents?
As noted above, workers’ compensation benefits are limited to medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages, as well as other benefits set forth by law. However, if you have the opportunity to file a lawsuit, you can seek damages for:
- past and future medical bills,
- scarring and disfigurement,
- lost wages,
- lost future earning capacity,
- pain and suffering,
- mental anguish,
- diminished quality of life, and
- any negative effects on your relationship with your spouse.
As you can see, following an accident, it is critical to conduct a thorough investigation and find out who is to blame. With construction site accidents, you should never assume that worker’s compensation is your only option.
6. How do I know if I have a case for a construction site injury?
The best way to find out if you have a claim is to meet with an experienced attorney for a free consultation. You will have the opportunity to discuss what happened and determine if you have a case worth pursuing. In general, construction accident lawsuits typically involve injuries caused by issues such as:
- Dangerous ladders and scaffolding
- Defective tools, machinery, and equipment
- Electrical shock
- Exposure to chemicals or flying debris
- Fires and explosions
- Improper operation of heavy equipment, such as cranes and forklifts
- Unsafe premises
- Violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
7. How do I choose a lawyer for my construction site accident claim?
When choosing a lawyer, you want someone who has decades of experience helping accident victims fight for just compensation. You also want someone who has specific experience with workers’ compensation and construction site accident claims – since these cases involve unique laws and procedures that don’t come into play with other types of personal injury claims. Finally, you want someone who handles cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not owe attorney anything for legal fees unless you receive compensation for your losses.
All too often, construction workers who have been injured in accidents while on the job report the incident to their employer, file a workers’ compensation claim and stop at that. Because the workers’ comp system prohibits workers from filing lawsuits against their employers, many victims overlook another very important avenue for compensation: third party claims.
When you come in for your free initial consultation, we can go over the details of your accident, so that we can determine if one of the following parties may also be liable for your injuries:
- ladder or other equipment manufacturer;
- contractor; or
Throughout Peter Ventura’s 25 years in representing personal injury victims, he has represented many clients from the construction industry, including:
- construction workers;
- heavy equipment operators;
- drivers; and
While each of these professions or occupations have different duties, at one time or another nearly all such workers have had to use a ladder. When a ladder proves to be unstable in its design, is improperly positioned or secured, or is even deficiently maintained, and serious injury results, victims have options to take legal action. Attorney Peter Ventura can help.
More Questions? Schedule a Free Consultation with Attorney Peter Ventura
If you have more questions about seeking compensation for construction site injuries, attorney Peter Ventura will be happy to provide you a free consultation. To schedule a time to discuss your case, call 508-755-7535 or contact Peter Ventura, Attorney at Law online today.
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