Construction is one of the most dangerous fields in which one can work. According to OSHA, 21.1 percent of the 4,693 worker fatalities in the private sector occurred within the construction field in 2016. That means that one in five workers deaths occurred in the construction field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 63.7 percent of construction accidents were caused by falls, being struck by objects, electrocution, and being caught in/between—otherwise known as “the fatal four.” Surprisingly, the fatal four accidents are all very preventable.
Though the construction industry is inherently dangerous, with the right safety measures and processes in place, accidents can be prevented. When accidents do occur, they are usually the result of unsafe practices, unlawful procedures, and practices that put costs ahead of workers. At the El Dabe Ritter Law Firm, our Los Angeles construction accidents attorneys are well-versed in handling construction accident injury cases and are prepared to help you recover the compensation you deserve for damages suffered. To learn more about how we can help you, contact our firm today.
7 Common Causes of Construction Accident Injuries
Construction is an inherently dangerous field, but some factors pose greater risks than others. Research and our own experience have pointed to the following seven circumstances as being the most common causes of construction accident injuries in California:
- Slip and Falls: Slip and fall accidents account for the majority of construction accident injuries in California and all of the U.S. A large portion of construction workers’ jobs occurs at great heights and usually on scaffolding, roofs, bridges, ladders, cranes, and other elevated equipment. Inadequate safety gear and other lax safety measures may result in falls and serious injuries.
- Falling Objects: Falling objects is the second leading cause of construction accident injuries in California and the U.S. With so much gear and equipment moving around, workers face getting hit by heavy objects, which could inflict brain injuries and other serious harms. Workers are instructed to abide by numerous safety procedures to avoid this type of accident, as well as to wear adequate safety gear to alleviate injuries, but such regulations are routinely ignored.
- Fire/Explosion: When construction sites involve dangerous explosives, exposed wires, leaky pipes, chemical storage, or combustible equipment, workers are at risk of a spontaneous fire or explosion. Such events are often the result of poorly maintained construction sites and/or inadequate protection of explosive equipment.
- Overexertion: It is not uncommon for laborers in California to collapse due to dehydration, heat exhaustion, or pushing their bodies past their limits to get work done. If employers do not provide workers with ample rest breaks, substance, nutrients, and shade, they may be held liable for ensuring damages.
- Faulty or Poorly Maintained Equipment: The operation of heavy equipment requires the skill, experience, and knowledge of a trained professional. The equipment itself also requires extensive and ongoing maintenance to ensure that it remains in proper working order. If equipment is operated by an inexperienced person, it could put others in danger. If it is allowed to go unmaintained, it could put the operator and others at risk.
- Structural Collapse: Workers digging trenches or tunnels face the risk of the structure collapsing upon them. Additionally, new buildings under construction may have unidentified structural weaknesses, or demolition projects may contain spots in which collapse is imminent. In either case, measures should be put in place by the general contractor to prevent collapse and/or protect workers.
- Respiratory Disease: It is not uncommon for construction sites to contain dust, dirt, chemicals, and other unknown contaminants. Whether known or unknown, if a contaminant causes a worker to become ill with a serious disease, the employer may be held liable for failure to provide the worker with the necessary safety equipment.
At the El Dabe Ritter Law Firm, our Los Angeles construction accidents attorneys are prepared to help you recover compensation for any of the above types of wrongdoings done to you or your loved one. We have experience in a variety of construction accident injury cases and have the resources necessary to investigate your claim and ensure that the liable party is held financially accountable.
Main Types of Injuries in Construction Accidents
Because of the danger of the equipment used in the construction industry, and because of the seriousness of the types of accidents, construction injuries are typically extremely severe, with many resulting in permanent and life-altering damages. At the El Dabe Ritter Law Firm, we have helped clients recover compensation for the following types of injuries:
- Head/brain injuries;
- Eye/ear injuries;
- Loss of hearing/sight;
- Broken bones/fractures;
- Joint injuries;
- Spinal cord/nerve injuries;
- Respiratory damage;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder; and
Damages Recovered in Los Angeles Construction Accidents
Damages in a construction accident claim vary depending on the extent and nature of the injuries. They are also dependent upon whether a construction accident claim is settled via workers’ compensation or via a third-party claim. Though damages in workers’ compensation claims are limited to medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation, our attorneys at the El Dabe Ritter Law Firm have successfully helped clients recover additional damages via third-party claims. Some such types of damages include the following:
- Pain and suffering;
- Lost wages, past and future;
- Medical expenses, past and future;
- Impairment of earning capacity;
- Home nursing services;
- Rehabilitative services;
- Loss of enjoyment of life; and
- Loss of consortium (in the case of a wrongful death).
Unfortunately, because the construction industry is laden with dangers, it is heavily regulated by federal and state law. Such regulations make it difficult for injured workers to recover compensation outside of workers’ compensation. However, difficult is not synonymous with impossible. When construction accidents arise out of carelessness, our Los Angeles construction accident lawyers are prepared to fight on your behalf to ensure that the negligent party is held financially accountable.
Construction accidents happen in Southern California much more often than they should. A majority of construction accidents could be prevented if safety regulations were followed more closely and employers took steps to avoid hazards and safety violations on worksites. Not only can construction workers be injured on the job in a construction accident, but motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians can also suffer serious or life-threatening injuries when a construction accident occurs at a site near vehicle or pedestrian traffic.
Getting the Facts About Los Angeles Construction Accidents
How dangerous are construction sites in California? According to a fact sheet from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the following are key statistics about the frequency and severity of debilitating and fatal accidents on construction sites:
- 991 construction workers suffered fatal workplace injuries in 2016, and thousands more sustained nonfatal injuries on the job;
- Construction industry’s “fatal four” are responsible for more than 63 percent of construction worker deaths, and experts predict that eliminating the “fatal four” would save more than 600 lives every year;
- The “fatal four” includes being hit by an object, falls, electrocution, and being caught-in or between;
- Falls are the leading cause of construction deaths, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all construction fatalities; and
- Being hit by an object, being caught-in or between an object, and electrocutions each account for approximate 7 to 10 percent of construction accident fatalities.
Common Injuries in Los Angeles Construction Accidents
Construction workers can suffer serious and fatal injuries on construction sites, including but not limited to the following:
- Broken bones;
- Back injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Internal organ damage;
- Brain injuries;
- Disfigurement; and
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Construction Accident Claim
Under California law, most personal injury claims—including construction accident lawsuits—must be filed within two years from the date of the injury. As such, most claims will need to be filed within two years from the accident date in order for the injury victim to remain eligible for compensation.
However, if a government agency was responsible for the injury, such as instances in which a government employer was overseeing a construction project, the statute of limitations could be much shorter. Claims against government agencies, including local ones, must be filed either within six months or one year from the date of the accident.
Contact Our Los Angeles Construction Accident Firm Today
If you or a loved one was injured in a construction accident in Los Angeles or the surrounding area, you may be entitled to compensation. However, if you hope to recover outside of workers’ comp, you need to prove that the liable party was grossly negligent. Our team can help prove negligence and negotiate for a fair settlement on your behalf. If we cannot reach an agreement with the other party, we are willing to defend your case at trial. To get on your path to recovery, contact our Los Angeles law firm today.
Were you injured in a construction accident in Southern California? An aggressive Los Angeles construction accident attorney can discuss your case with you today. Contact El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers for more information about the services we provide to injured plaintiffs throughout the Los Angeles area.