Construction Site Injuries: A Closer Look
Many construction, demolition, and renovation companies work with very low profit margins. A few dollars could be the difference between making money and losing money on a particular job. As a result, items like worker safety do not always receive the attention they deserve. So, the construction industry’s seven million employees in the United States risk serious injury every time they show up for work.
Typically, these injured victims are entitled to no-fault insurance benefits which cover their economic losses, such as lost wages and medical expenses. Most victims receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage until they can return to work. In terms of medical treatment, most job injury victims in Louisiana can choose their own doctors.
Although these benefits are available, they are not easy to obtain. The workers’ compensation bureaucracy is large, slow, and dominated by insurance company interests. A top New Orleans workers’ compensation lawyer helps ensure that victims receive fair compensation for their serious injuries.
What Causes Construction Site Injuries?
As mentioned, workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance. So, in a comp claim, fault, negligence, and other such concepts are irrelevant. That being said, if the administrative law judge understands how the accident happened, the ALJ is usually more willing to award maximum compensation.
Lack of communication causes a number of workplace accidents, especially at construction sites. This industry has a large percentage of LEP (Limited English Proficiency) workers. These individuals usually have excellent physical skills, but their English is not very good. So, they do not always understand written instructions or safety lectures. If the boss bothers to provide an interpreter, certain items often get lost in translation.
Many construction tools, such as saws, have guards and other safety devices. These attachments keep workers safer, but they also slow workers down. So, to increase productivity and stay on schedule, many employers remove these safety devices. Such behavior does not only cause workplace injuries. In some cases, it could constitute extreme recklessness and increase the potential damage award. More on that below.
Finally, many construction sites are very hectic. There is a lot of coming and going. Additionally, many workers operate large vehicles, like bulldozers or dump trucks, that they are barely qualified to drive. These vehicles often have limited lines of sight as well. When a large construction vehicle strikes a worker, the victim’s injuries are normally quite serious. In fact, if the vehicle is travelling more than about 30mph, the pedestrian death rate is over 50 percent.
Cause is also important because, in many cases, workers’ compensation is not the exclusive remedy for workplace accidents. For example, if a defective product caused the injury, the product manufacturer is usually strictly liable for damages. The same thing might be true if the employer was extremely reckless.
The damages in these claims include not only the aforementioned economic losses, but also noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
The Fatal Four
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Fatal Four causes about half of all construction site fatal injuries in Louisiana:
- Falls: Hastily put-together scaffolding is normally safe, as long as workers know how to use all available safety equipment. But as discussed above, that’s not always the case.
- Struck By: There is an old construction worker saying that a hammer is a lot like a pistol. You should only take it out if you intend to use it. If a worker drops that hammer, a person a few stories down could be fatally injured.
- Caught Between: Items like elevators and lifts make construction workers more efficient, which is why almost all sites have such gadgets. But they are also very unforgiving devices which are dangerous to workers.
- Electrocutions: It’s very difficult to tell the difference between a dead wire and a live wire on a busy construction site.
Although OSHA knows what the problem is, the agency is very small. There is only one investigator for every 59,000 workers in Louisiana.
Reach Out to a Tenacious Attorney
Construction sites are dangerous places for construction workers. For a free consultation with an experienced New Orleans workers’ compensation lawyer, contact Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act.