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Fall protection is one of the most important safety precautions at any construction site, yet also one of the most neglected. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists fall protection as the #1 most common safety violation in 2016. This category also lead all others in “willful” violations – one which is “committed with an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and requirements.“
If an object falls from a high enough elevation and it strikes someone below, the impact can be deadly. In 2014, a worker was killed after being struck by a one-pound tape measure which had fallen from 50 stories above. It’s important to do more to prevent worker falls and falling objects and to make sure those injured in these accidents have the financial assistance they need while they recover.
What Are My Options After A Work Accident?
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a fall accident, you may be wondering what to do next. Along with emotional and physical pain and suffering, you may be saddled with new and unmanageable medical expenses. While it may take time for your wounds to heal, there are avenues for financial relief:
In New York, all employers are required to provide workers’ comp coverage for all of their employees (with the exception of some civil servants). If you were injured while working as an employee on a construction site, then you’re entitled to workers’ compensation. It doesn’t matter how the accident occurred – you’re still covered even if it was your own fault. And both your co-workers and your employer are usually protected from work injury lawsuits, even if they were negligent.
What If I’m An Independent Contractor?
Independent contractors don’t have employer-provided workers’ comp, but they do have the option to purchase their own. If you were injured and did not have a workers’ compensation policy, you may have the option to file a lawsuit if someone else’s negligence caused your injury. For example, if your construction site required tools to be tied off, and another worker failed to do this and dropped a tool which struck you, you could potentially hold that work liable for damages.
Do I Need A Lawyer’s Help To Apply?
While you’re free to apply for workers’ comp on your own, it’s often necessary to have an experienced work injury lawyer to help you through the process. Self-represented workers are more likely to encounter resistance from their employers and insurance carriers, who both have a financial interest in denying claims. The system is also more complicated than many people realize, and claims can be denied for even the smallest mistake or inaccuracy.
Legal counsel can help you provide everything you need for a successful claim, help you appeal a denied claim, deal with the insurance companies on your behalf, and help you explore possible other forms of compensation.
Do I Have Grounds For A Lawsuit?
Compared to other workplaces, personal injury lawsuits for construction work injuries are fairly common. This is because there are usually various employees, independent contractors, subcontractors, and other parties working closely together. While you’re not permitted to sue anyone who shares the same employer, you may hold these third parties liable if they caused your injury through negligence.
For example, let’s say you were working from ground level as an independent contractor and a construction company employee drops a tool from above, which strikes you on the arm and causes a serious injury. If this worker’s employer failed to provide the required fall protection equipment or if the worker committed a safety violation himself, you would likely have a strong case for a lawsuit against the company.
What Can I Be Compensated For?
Fall accidents cause some of the most serious injuries, and often require financial compensation beyond what workers’ comp can provide. A personal injury claim can help you recover compensation for additional damages, such as:
Medical expenses when insurance caps are reached
Pain and suffering
Loss of quality of life
Loss of earning potential
Loss of consortium (for surviving spouses of fatal accident victims)
How Can Surviving Families Get The Help They Need?
Losing a loved one in an unexpected accident is always painful, but it’s especially difficult to deal with when the accident could have easily been prevented. If your family is in this situation, you may be feeling a mix of grief, anger, and frustration. While taking time to grieve is the top priority right now, it’s worth considering what you can do to make sure your family is financially secure and how you can prevent other families from finding themselves in the same situation.
Workers’ compensation pays out death benefits for the surviving families of fatal work accident victims. Additionally, a wrongful death lawsuit can help provide you with both economic and noneconomic damages, along with demanding better safety standards from the industry as a whole. In 2017, we have the resources, technology, and equipment to prevent injuries from falling objects. We must do more to protect the workers who help build, develop, and maintain our city.