Falls from Height on Construction Sites Deserve Full Compensation
Construction accidents are common — so much so that the industry is the most hazardous of American job descriptions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And high on the list of site mishaps are falls from height on construction sites, including scaffolding and ladders and off of vehicles.
Those who are injured on a construction site will be compensated initially through Illinois workers’ compensation and – if the injured worker is a member – additional monies may be available through his or her union. But workers’ compensation only pays for treatment of the injuries, some disability and lost wages if the worker is unable to return to work for some time.
However, a Cook County construction accident lawyer might be able to investigate other sources of compensation available to an injured worker or surviving family members if the mishap led to an accidental death. An experienced construction injury lawyer will be able to investigate the accident scene and guide you and your family through the claims process that should produce a fair damage award or settlement.
Types of Construction Falls
Most falls at construction sites involve the following:
- Ladders and scaffolds: Collapses and falls are often the result of someone’s negligence. They can be unsteady because they rest on uneven or shifting surfaces. And a scaffold may not have been assembled properly. Poorly maintained scaffolds and ladders also can give way suddenly when workers are on them.
- Moving Vehicles: With so much truck unloading at a construction site, some falls are bound to occur, especially if a load shifts or the vehicle suddenly moves without warning. Accidental falls also occur when people get on and off, ride on earth movers, dump trucks and debris haulers.
- Falls from Heights: These can be some of the most tragic construction site accidents if the worker falls more than 15 or 20 feet, and falls from skyscrapers can be especially gruesome.
In all of the above cases, it is possible that others on the site who are not the worker’s employer may share a portion of the blame and legal liability for some of a construction fall accident. These are known as third-party defendants. Third-party compensation is totally different – and separate from – workers’ compensation.
Third-Party Liability Makes up for Workers’ Compensation Shortcomings
Take, for example, the scaffold fall. If scaffolding belongs to a subcontractor who is not your employer and an investigation reveals that owner did not properly maintain or assemble the scaffold, he or she may be liable for paying the entire value of your damages: medical bills, full lost wages (and employee benefits), disability, and pain and suffering (which workers’ compensation does not pay).
If you were off-loading construction materials from a flatbed truck and the driver accidently knocked it out of gear, causing you to fall and injure your back, that driver and his or her employer might be the object of your third-party lawsuit. Why the employer? The term “respondent superior” refers to laws that state employers are responsible for the actions of their employees when they are on the clock.
And if a beloved family member ended up falling 10 floors off a skyscraper under construction and suffered a wrongful death, did someone’s negligence directly contribute to the accident? Was the construction manager lax in keeping the site clean, causing a trip and long fall? Did the general contractor make certain that railings and safety guards were properly installed or were they absent to begin with?
As mentioned, workers’ compensation is your initial stop in the compensation chain. But if someone other than your employer had a hand in the accidental fall, it’s best to contact an experienced Cook County construction accident lawyer at Buttafuoco & Associates in order to begin an investigation. Construction accident scenes can change pretty quickly, along with the evidence that proves your claim.
If you have suffered a fall at a construction site and have been seriously injured, Buttafuoco and Associates’ experienced work injury attorneys offer a free consultation. Contact us anytime by calling 1-800-NOW-HURT or fill out our online contact form.