Twenty-one percent of those who died in job-related accidents in the U.S. in 2017 were construction workers. Scores of construction workers also suffer severe or disabling injuries. If you are injured at a construction site, speak at once with a Miami construction accident attorney.
We rely on construction workers, but it’s a hazardous way to earn a living. What injuries are common among construction workers? If you are a construction worker in South Florida and you’re injured at the job, what are your rights? Will you qualify for workers’ comp benefits?
Or will you qualify to take legal action and file a personal injury claim? Keep reading to learn those answers and more about the rights of injured Florida construction workers. You’ll also find out where to turn for help if you are injured while working at a construction site in south Florida.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES?
Workers at construction sites are injured in four main types of accidents:
- fall accidents
- struck-by-object accidents
- “caught-in” and “caught-between” accidents
- accidents linked to electricity
Faulty or defective equipment, dangerous chemicals, fires, and toxic mold are also safety threats at construction sites.
WHY ARE FALLS SO FREQUENT AT CONSTRUCTION SITES?
OSHA (the Occupational Health and Safety Administration) says that falls accounted for over a third of all construction work-related deaths in 2016. Falls cause injuries when workers use unsecured ladders, faulty scaffolding, or work from heights without the right safety gear.
Construction site injuries that are caused by falls include but are not limited to traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, back and neck injuries, multiple broken bones, contusions, sprains, and fractures. When protection against falls is inadequate, the results can be catastrophic.
CAN “STRUCK-BY-OBJECT” INJURIES BE PREVENTED?
A second leading cause of construction injuries happens when workers are struck by an object. According to OSHA, one in ten injured construction workers were hurt when they were struck by objects on the job in 2016.
Construction workers risk being struck by an object when employers fail to provide safety nets and do not post warning signs. Workers must wear hard hats and the appropriate footwear.
WHAT ARE “CAUGHT-BETWEEN” AND “CAUGHT-IN” INJURIES?
Construction workers may be surrounded by heavy machinery. The Center for Construction Research and Training tells us that from 2003 to 2015, “caught-between” and “caught-in” accidents caused over one thousand construction worker fatalities.
Caught-between and caught-in accidents happen when construction workers are caught in or between equipment or crushed by machinery, walls, other barriers or objects, or when a structure or a trench collapses.
According to OSHA, trenching and excavation work is more than twice as likely to lead to a death or a severe injury than any other construction work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that trench collapses killed 117 construction workers in the U.S. from 2011 through 2016.
HOW DO ELECTRICAL INJURIES HAPPEN AT CONSTRUCTION SITES?
Electrical injuries caused by negligence and safety violations at construction sites also pose a risk. Injuries happen when someone has contact with live wiring or with transformers, control panels, light fixtures, circuit breakers, and junction boxes.
Electrical injuries are also caused by defective power tools, contact with power lines, and frayed electrical cords. Standing in water or letting electric lights, wires, or cords contact water can cause electrocution.
ARE CONSTRUCTION SITE INJURIES PREVENTABLE?
Despite a variety of overlapping local, state, and federal safety standards, it’s inevitable – because of the nature of the work – that there will be accidents and injuries at construction sites. Nevertheless, both workers and employers can take steps to reduce accidents and injuries.
Safety at a construction site requires comprehensive safety training, appropriate safety equipment, and standardized safety practices, routines, and procedures. Safety violations that can lead to severe injuries include but are not limited to:
- failing to offer the necessary safety training
- failing to provide, use, or replace safety equipment
- inadequate or defective guardrails or scaffolding
- inadequate protection from electrical wiring and equipment
- failing to notify workers about known construction site hazards
WHAT CAN CONSTRUCTION WORKERS DO TO PREVENT INJURIES?
Here’s what construction workers and their employers can do to prevent at least some of the accidents and injuries that may happen at construction sites:
- Always use guardrails, safety nets, and stop systems.
- Keep work areas tidy and well-lit.
- Wear appropriate clothing, hardhats, footwear, and safety glasses.
- Adhere strictly to OSHA safety guidelines and regulations.
- Report potential hazards immediately.
HOW ARE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS COMPENSATED FOR INJURIES?
If you are injured while working on a construction site in south Florida, you will probably qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Florida law requires construction employers to have workers’ compensation coverage for independent contractors as well as employees.
Florida employers who hire workers without workers’ compensation coverage are subject to fines, and a Florida court may order non-compliant employers to cease operations entirely until the business complies and pays a penalty.
Workers compensation claims are more complicated than you may think. A Miami construction accident attorney can help you submit a workers’ comp claim and will see to it that you receive the worker’s compensation benefits that you are entitled to by Florida law.
WHEN SHOULD YOU CONTACT A CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT LAWYER?
It’s best to contact a construction accident attorney immediately after you’ve been examined and treated by a healthcare professional. If your workers’ compensation claim is denied for any reason, you’ll need an attorney to appeal that denial on your behalf.
Workers’ compensation partially reimburses lost wages and pays for an injured construction worker’s medical bills, lab tests, prescriptions, hospital costs, and additional medical expenses.
Wage replacement through workers’ comp equals two-thirds of a worker’s average weekly wage at the time of the injury, with a maximum weekly payment (in 2019) of $939. Payments can be higher for severe injuries such as paralysis or blindness.
CAN YOU FILE A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?
In most cases, workers’ compensation protects employers from personal injury lawsuits. In return for that protection, employees are automatically covered, and if an employee is injured, the employee does not have to take legal action or prove that the employer was negligent.
If you do not have worker’s compensation coverage because your employer is exempt or non-compliant, or if a third party – other than your employer – was responsible for your on-the job-injury, you may qualify to file a personal injury claim.
After any construction-related injury in south Florida, meet immediately with an experienced personal injury attorney who can explain your rights and options and recommend the best way to move forward. Don’t wait. See an attorney as soon as you’ve been examined and treated.
A good lawyer’s help is your right, and if you’ve been injured at a construction site, pursuing the compensation that you are entitled to is the right thing to do.