Construction is one of the most dangerous fields in the world. One mistake or misstep can have disastrous consequences, causing serious injuries or even fatalities. According to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), construction fatalities comprise around 20 percent of all work deaths. Most of these accidents fall into what OSHA calls “the fatal four,” which include falls, electrocutions, workers struck by objects or caught in or between equipment, and collapsing structures or materials.
However, construction employees aren’t the only possible victims in construction site accidents. Motorists or pedestrians passing by may also be injured or even killed by construction equipment and debris and may also have legal rights to be compensated for their harms and losses.
Construction companies, property managers, equipment manufacturers, and other workers in the immediate area have a responsibility to make sure the worksite is as safe as possible, and each party must play their own part in that process. When one of these entities fails to meet its obligations and its negligence causes an accident, the injured party may have cause to pursue compensation for damages, which can be extensive.
Understanding what’s best for your case and what options are available to you will help you make the right decisions for your accident case — and protect your rights so that you can receive the compensation you may be entitled to under the law. FVF has years of experience handling personal injury accidents, including construction accidents, with outstanding outcomes. Here’s what our experts think you should know about your construction site accident case.
Possible Causes of Construction Site Accidents
There are many factors that can contribute to accidents that occur on or around construction sites. The events that preceded your accident — as well as the relationship between you and the negligent party — will determine which actions you can take and will help your lawyer pinpoint which party or parties can be held accountable. Here are several possible causes of construction site accidents and their possible legal implications.
- Inadequate protective equipment. Employers are required to equip employees with the appropriate safety gear, such as fall protection systems, respirators, hardhats, and other protective equipment. However, it is not uncommon for employers to forego these protections, often as an attempt to reduce project overhead costs. Failure to comply with these standards is a violation of OSHA policy and may leave the employer liable for compensation if a construction employee or bystander is hurt as a result.
- Site safety violations. In addition to providing safety equipment, construction companies and property managers are responsible for maintaining a safe working environment. Employers and/or property owners can be held liable for damages in construction site accidents if it can be proven that they failed to secure the jobsite. For example, employers must post proper signage around hazards like large holes, and properly block off construction sites to protect motorists and pedestrians passing by.
- Failure to train employees. OSHA requires employers to provide safety training to all employees, and failure to do so may be proof of negligence. Proving that lack of training caused your accident can be difficult, and you may not be able to demand compensation for improper training from your employer if you are a permanent employee. However, you may be able to pursue compensation from a third party if training was an issue — for instance, from another vendor working on the jobsite.
- Improperly maintained equipment. Employers also assume responsibility for equipment maintenance and must perform periodic safety inspections on machinery, tools, and other equipment. For instance, an employer who uses a crane must ensure that it is working properly and that the components are all functioning and do not pose a safety risk. If an employer is found to have neglected equipment maintenance, it may be held responsible if this negligence resulted in an accident.
- Equipment malfunction. Equipment failures are another source of construction site accidents. In some cases, when this occurs, the manufacturer may be held accountable if it can be proven that the accident was caused by an equipment defect.
- Third-party negligence. There are often many different entities working on a construction site. There may be general contractors and subcontractors as well as employees of various vendors all involved in the construction. If your accident was a direct consequence of the negligence of one of these parties, you may be able to seek compensation for damages.
As you can see, the causes of construction site accidents are many and varied. Identifying the circumstances that contributed to your accident, the various parties involved, and their responsibilities under the law typically takes the expertise of a construction site accident lawyer. Attorneys who specialize in these cases can help you understand your rights and your likelihood of receiving compensation from various sources.
What to Know About Construction Accident Cases
Construction site accidents present some special legal challenges, due to the complex nature of construction sites and the regulations employers must abide by to protect employees. Below are a few additional issues that may impact your case.
- Determining who is liable for your accident may be especially complex. On the construction site, employers have one set of legal responsibilities, as do employees, third party vendors, and property managers. Your relationship to these parties — and their relationship to one another — will affect your case and the legal strategy your construction site attorney creates.
For instance, if you are a private citizen hit by construction equipment, you will have a different set of rights and different options than someone working on the jobsite. Additionally, if your lawyer finds evidence that your accident was caused by a negligent employer, it may affect how he or she decides to move forward with your case. The bottom line is that it is in your best interest to at least consult an attorney to help you understand these details and who can be held legally liable for your accident.
- Your case may require an understanding of OSHA guidelines and other safety regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Act provides a set of rules that construction employers must follow in order to protect the health and safety of their workers. Additionally, construction companies and property managers often have their own set of safety guidelines that are specific to the type of work that is being performed on the jobsite.
Guidelines like these — from OSHA or otherwise — can often be used as the legal foundation for your case. However, understanding these rules, particularly OSHA regulations, can be difficult. Additionally, it may be necessary to obtain documentation of employer guidelines, which employers may be hesitant to provide. A skilled lawyer can help you with both of these tasks.
- It’s important to begin documenting your case right away. Taking the proper steps after your accident helps you protect your legal rights and ensure that your actions (or lack of action) will not undermine your case.
First, you should always seek medical attention as soon as possible, both for the sake of your health and so that you can document injuries and build a stronger case for compensation.
Second, it’s important to report the accident to the construction site manager. He or she is responsible for creating a report that will document the details of your accident, which may be used as evidence in your case. Employers are legally prohibited from retaliating against employees who document accidents or pursue legal action, so you should be as transparent as possible when reporting your injury.
How Hiring a Lawyer Can Help Your Construction Accident Case
It can be difficult to navigate a construction site accident claim by yourself. Because there are so many regulations around the construction industry — and so many possible parties involved — these cases are not as clear-cut as other personal injury cases. A construction site accident lawyer can help you with the following:
- Managing communication and gathering evidence. An accident lawyer can assume the role of coordinating with employers, contractors, insurance providers, property managers, witnesses, and other parties as necessary. An attorney can also help you request records and other documents — and will ensure that all parties cooperate with these requests.
- Negotiating with insurance providers. A large construction company may have many resources — such as a team of lawyers — on its side, allowing it to construct a case against compensation. A skilled construction site accident attorney will stand up to these opposing interests, helping you obtain the compensation you need to recover from your accident.
- Offering financial advice. Not only are lawyers a source of legal knowledge, but they can also identify financial resources that will help you as you pursue compensation.
- Educating you on your rights and options. With OSHA regulations and multiple parties involved, understanding what actions you are entitled to under the law — and which are best for your particular circumstances — can be difficult. A good construction site accident lawyer will outline all your options and help you learn which actions you can take and your likelihood of receiving compensation from various sources.
Why Hire FVF to Handle Your Construction Accident Claim
While a lawyer can help you achieve better case outcomes for your construction site accident claim, it’s important to hire the right firm. An outstanding legal team like ours at FVF has not just years of legal experience but also sympathy for your circumstances and your needs as an accident victim. Our lawyers put your interests first, offering education, advice, and support during a difficult time. Here’s what we bring to the table.
- Superior reputation. We enjoy an outstanding reputation among Austin construction site accident lawyers, with stellar reviews on Yelp, Google, and AVVO, along with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Our attorneys were also included in the prestigious Texas Super Lawyers–Rising Stars list and the Million- and Multimillion Dollar Advocates Forum.
- Commitment to our ethics. It can be hard to find a lawyer that offers transparency and ethical counsel. We provide in-depth insight into your case and advise you to take the action that is best for you, based on our case experience and knowledge of your circumstances.
- Compassionate, sympathetic advice. We understand that navigating an accident claim, lawsuit, and/or trial is difficult, particularly when you’re dealing with the stress and physical effects of a serious injury. We’ve talked to hundreds of victims of construction site accidents in San Antonio and Austin, and that experience has given us the know-how to approach clients with sensitivity and compassion.
- Free case evaluation. We take an education-first approach to the law at FVF, which means we don’t pressure accident victims to hire us. We offer a free consultation for every accident victim who contacts us. That way, we can walk you through your rights and options before you decide whether or not to take legal action.
If you have been injured on or near a construction jobsite, you deserve the chance to fight for fair compensation — and FVF can help. Contact us today for a no-cost case consultation and learn how you can begin making the best possible decisions for your accident case.