Construction sites are notoriously dangerous places for all kinds of workers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports construction workers account for nearly 20 percent of all workplace fatalities nationally. So 1 in every 5 workplace deaths happen on construction sites. In Florida, the agency reports construction and extraction workers routinely account for the highest number of fatal work injuries. The majority of these are construction trade workers, including:
- Construction laborers
At The Ansara Law Firm, our knowledgeable, committed team of Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys is prepared to assist with your construction accident claim. These include claims stemming from scaffolding falls, crane accidents, roofing accidents, struck-by incidents, tool or machine malfunctions, auto accidents and injuries caused by heavy equipment.
In most cases, construction accidents in Florida are the result of:
- Unsafe working conditions
- Poor workplace safety
- Lack of training
- Unsafe equipment
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) generally puts the onus of construction site safety on the primary contractor. But it takes everyone on that site being constantly mindful and observing best safety practices to ensure workers stay safe. Unfortunately, in far too many cases, this does not happen.
Types of Construction Accident Claims
There are generally two types of claims construction workers can file in the event of injury:
- Workers’ compensation
- Third-party negligence
Workers’ compensation refers to claims filed against one’s own employer for benefits, according to F.S. 440, Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Act. The law provides workers with a fast-track way to collect benefits for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. The upside is workers do not have to prove the company was negligent in order to be awarded benefits. The downside is the awards are strictly limited, and there is an exclusive remedy provision that prohibits workers entitled to benefits from also suing their employer – even if the company was negligent in causing the work-related accident or illness. Workers’ compensation does not provide benefits to cover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and emotional distress.
It's worth noting that independent contractors are not covered under workers’ compensation law. Only “employees” can collect benefits. However, just because your boss has classified you as an independent contractor doesn’t necessarily mean you are one. The courts may weigh a number of factors and decide that despite the company’s designation, you were, in fact, an employee and are thus entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Third-party negligence refers to action against third parties who may have contributed to the accident or injury, but who did not employ the construction worker. These could be the owner of the construction site, the general contractor, subcontractors, negligent drivers or manufacturers of dangerous equipment, vehicles, tools or machinery. Third-party litigation can result in substantial compensation, and can include recovery for pain and suffering, emotional damage, loss of consortium and wrongful death.
Construction Injury and Fatality Statistics
The BLS reports that in a single recent year, there were 874 construction injury deaths across the country. Most of those involved:
- Falls, slips and trips
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments
- Transportation incidents
- Contact with objects and equipment
- Fires and explosions
- Violence and other injuries caused by persons or animals
These accounted for 19 percent of the 4,679 total workplace deaths reported in 2014.
In terms of workplace injuries and illnesses that did not result in death, there were 3 million such incidents in the private industry sector reported to the labor department in 2014. Overall workplace injuries and illnesses have been on the decline in recent years, but it’s still a serious problem for the construction industry.
While the rate of injury and illness for all private industry workers was 3.2 cases per 100 full-time workers, the rate for those in the construction industry is 3.6. What’s more, a significant number of these injuries are serious, resulting in days away from work and, in some instances, job transfer or restriction.
The difference is even more stark in terms of worker deaths. The 2013 fatal work injury rates in Florida, as reported to the BLS, indicate the fatality rate for construction workers in the Sunshine State is 9.5 per 100,000 full-time workers. Compare that to the overall rate among all industries, which was 2.8 per 100,000 full-time workers.
Although construction workers are certainly at higher risk than those in other industries, these accidents are by no means unavoidable. In many cases, someone was negligent. In most circumstances, workers can receive compensation.
If you are injured on a Florida construction site or if a loved one has been killed due a Florida construction accident, contact our experienced and dedicated team of personal injury lawyers in Fort Lauderdale today.
Call the injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm at (888) 267-2728 or locally at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.