Construction sites often contain many dangers, including heavy equipment, uncovered electrical wires, and the potential to fall from heights. Whether you must work on a construction site or simply move through one on your way to a safer location, you expect a reasonable level of safety, including adherence to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, as you move through the construction site.
If you suffer injuries in a construction site accident in Tampa, contact the Tampa Construction Accident Lawyer at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Accident Injury Lawyers or Sibley Dolman, to help file your personal injury claim. Call 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) today to schedule your free consultation.
Common Construction Accidents
Because construction sites contain so many potential dangers, accidents can occur quickly, especially if construction workers fail to take proper safety precautions. Wearing a hard hat any time you move through a construction site, especially when working on that site, can significantly reduce injury in many types of accidents, including hard objects falling from heights and electrical accidents, and can substantially reduce the severity of injuries when accidents do occur.
Falls From Heights
At many construction sites, especially as a construction worker, you may have reason to work at exposed heights, often without current safety rails. You may work on top of buildings, including buildings with slanted roofs, or climb scaffolding and ladders. Falls from those heights can result in substantial injuries, from traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage to broken bones.
Many construction sites have exposed wires, as construction workers take care of electrical work or work on the walls around electrical wiring. Exposed wiring can pose a serious danger, especially if you come into contact with those exposed wires directly. If you must work around live wires, electrocution can also occur due to improper information about wire placement, if you cut into the wires or otherwise expose yourself directly to that electricity. Electric shocks can range from fairly minor to severe, depending on how much contact you had with exposed wires and the current moving through those wires at the time of your accident. Electrocution can lead to the following injuries:
- Muscle spasms
- Numbness and tingling, especially in the part of the body in most direct contact with the current
- Hearing problems
- Vision difficulties
- Irregular heartbeat
- Breathing problems
Some of these complications resolve with time. Some electrocution victims, however, find that they have lingering symptoms long after their accidents.
Heavy Machinery Accidents
Many construction jobs require a significant amount of heavy machinery, including forklifts, cranes, and hoists. While those machines prove vitally necessary to complete many construction jobs, they can also pose a significant danger to both workers and visitors on those sites. Heavy machinery accidents can lead to serious crushing damage, amputations, spinal cord injury, or broken bones, depending on the severity of the accident and the equipment involved. Operator error, especially with inadequate training, can cause heavy machinery to behave unpredictably, as can equipment malfunctions.
In many construction sites, workers need to work in a trench or other tight areas. When that tight area collapses, it can leave workers unable to escape on their own. Sometimes, workers suffer serious injuries, including broken bones and even spinal cord damage, when the trench collapses. In other cases, workers may suffer serious injury trying to exit the trench. Staying trapped for a long time can leave workers suffering from dehydration, malnutrition, or difficulty breathing.
Exposure to Chemicals
Construction jobs often require the use of dangerous chemicals, many of which can cause long-term damage to people exposed to them. Proper use and disposal of these chemicals can help protect both workers on the construction site and people living or working around the construction site. Chemical exposure can substantially increase cancer risk as well as cause many immediate problems, such as:
- Breathing difficulties
- Heart problems
- Confusion and disorientation
- Stomach distress
- Feeling faint
In some cases, exposure to harmful chemicals can cause victims to quickly collapse. Chemical exposure can also quickly result in death, especially if the victim remains in the area with the chemicals for too long.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Construction workers frequently use motor vehicles to accomplish many tasks on a construction site, including the transportation of materials. Often, construction workers may also need to work around vehicles directly as normal traffic continues to move through the work site in spite of their presence. Motor vehicle accidents can cause serious injuries, especially when they collide with pedestrians: spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injury, and broken bones, for example.
Just as construction workers and visitors to construction sites often need to work at heights, the materials used to complete those projects often get carried or stored high above the ground. Improper storage or use can cause those objects to fall, leading to traumatic brain injury or broken bones when they land on people.
Seeking Compensation After a Construction Accident: Who Bears Responsibility?
After a construction accident, you may have substantial injuries that cause your medical bills to mount quickly. As a result, you need to identify all parties responsible for your injuries. Talking with an attorney can often help you better understand all of the parties who potentially contributed to your accident and your injuries.
Contractors and Subcontractors
On an average construction site, you may have multiple groups of contractors and subcontractors working together to accomplish a given job. A general contractor may supervise the building site while working with subcontractors to lay the flooring, take care of plumbing, or do any electrical work on the job site. The general contractor may, in some cases, bear primary responsibility for any accidents that happen on the job site, especially accidents that happen due to poor adherence to safety regulations.
In other cases, you may need to identify the specific subcontractor responsible for a specific task. If you suffered electrocution due to exposed wiring, for example, especially exposed wiring that went unlabeled or that did not get labeled properly, you may need to file a personal injury claim against the electrician.
Both contractors and subcontractors typically carry liability insurance intended to protect the company when a visitor suffers an accident on the job site. Construction companies generally also carry workers’ compensation insurance to help protect workers on the job site.
While a worker on the clock may divert liability to the company that employs him, especially if that worker drives a company vehicle during a motor vehicle accident, workers off the clock may bear personal responsibility for any accidents caused by driver error, including reckless or distracted driving behavior. Other drivers moving through a construction site can also cause serious injuries, especially when construction workers must divert traffic from its usual pattern on a construction site.
Every day, construction workers must rely on potentially dangerous equipment to get their jobs done, from heavy construction equipment, like forklifts and backhoes, to power tools. When that equipment malfunctions, it can cause serious injury for everyone involved. Equipment malfunctions that occur when a worker uses equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions and does not go outside those guidelines, including replacing worn or outdated equipment when needed, can leave responsibility on the shoulders of the manufacturer of that equipment. The manufacturer may also bear liability for unclear instructions on the equipment or any failure to issue warnings about the appropriate use of the equipment.
The Owner of the Work Site
If you suffer an injury on a construction site due to something the property owner did, including creating a hazard on the property or failing to properly maintain equipment or property that has nothing to do with the ongoing construction, the site owner may bear responsibility. The site owner may also bear liability if an accident occurs due to a dangerous feature of the site that he or she did not disclose to the construction workers or visitors to the site. For example, if the owner knew about a rotting wall or flooring, but failed to disclose that information before beginning construction, he may bear liability if a construction worker falls through that rotting floor, causing injury.
Engineers and Architects
Engineers and architects often direct many of the activities around a construction site, including the important placement of safety beams, supports, and safety features. When drawing up plans, engineers and architects must consider safety as well as aesthetics. If an engineer or architect draws up plans that pose a safety hazard to construction workers or visitors to the site, both during the construction process and after the construction ends, that individual or firm may bear liability for any accidents caused by such designs.
Financial Compensation for Construction Accident Injuries
Construction site injuries can leave injured individuals with substantial medical bills, including ongoing bills as they move through their recovery. Filing personal injury claims can help them seek compensation for those medical expenses and other expenses associated with their accidents. The compensation they receive will vary: severe injuries, for example, usually receive higher compensation than minor injuries.
Compensation will also depend on the coverage offered by the insurance policy that covers each accident. Most construction companies carry high levels of liability insurance, which can provide better financial protection for victims of construction accidents.
If you’ve been injured in a construction site accident, while the actual funds you receive may vary, most people file for common types of compensation following a serious construction site injury. Personal injury claims usually include the following:
Your medical expenses may mount quickly following a construction accident. When filing your claim, include all of your medical expenses:
- Ambulance transport, including both transportation to the hospital and transport to a specialized hospital or another facility
- Emergency room treatment
- Scans and tests
- Surgical procedures
- Durable medical equipment used to aid in your recovery, including crutches, braces, wheelchairs, and prosthetic devices
- Your hospital stay
- Stay in a long-term care or rehabilitation facility, if needed
- Alterations to your home to accommodate your injuries: wheelchair ramps, expanded doorways, and modified bathrooms, for example
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Psychological therapy, if needed
Keep track of all your medical expenses beginning with the accident itself. Talking with an attorney can also give you a better idea of what expenses you should include.
With serious injuries, many victims cannot immediately return to their jobs. You may miss time at work for an immediate evaluation of your injuries and while healing: even minor broken bones, for example, can take six to eight weeks to heal, during which time you might not have the ability to complete your normal job responsibilities. In some cases, your employer may work with you to get you back to work as soon as possible, including modifying your daily responsibilities or offering special equipment, if needed. In others, your employer may prefer that you remain out of work until you can come back and complete your normal duties. If you must miss time at work during your recovery, you can include lost wages as part of your personal injury claim.
Lost Earning Potential
Many types of construction accidents cause severe enough injuries that they can change the course of an individual’s life. If you suffer injuries that prevent you from returning to your former profession, you can claim lost earning potential as part of your personal injury claim. Claiming lost earning potential can help you return to school, pursue additional certifications, or provide for your financial needs during a long recovery.
Pain and Suffering
Construction accident injuries often cause substantial physical pain. Not only that, they may cause emotional anguish as you miss out on activities that are normally part of your life. Most states don’t allow pain and suffering expenses through workers’ compensation claims. If a third party contributed to your accident, however, you might pursue a pain and suffering claim against that person or entity. Talking with an attorney can help you better evaluate how your construction accident harms other areas of your life, including the activities you enjoy, your ability to complete work in a satisfying way, and embarrassment caused by your limitations.
Tampa Construction Accident FAQ
As a Tampa construction worker, you have a tough and sometimes dangerous job. You work hard each day building roads, neighborhoods, and entire cities, one building at a time. Construction sites are often hazardous, but you work hard anyway, always knowing there’s a potential for injury at every turn.
As a construction worker, you balance your tools on elevated platforms. You work near live electrical lines and navigate deep, sometimes un-shored trenches. Even when you’re careful, it’s hard to stay safe with heavy equipment, big trucks, and other crews nearby. It’s no wonder construction workers across the country sustain serious and fatal injuries every single day.
As a construction worker, you don’t want to think about accidents or injuries. Unfortunately, it’s often out of your control. Construction sites are often dangerous and workers do sustain serious injuries. That’s why we’ve created our Tampa Construction Accident FAQ. We believe that you need to understand your rights before an accident occurs.
Who pays my medical bills when I’m injured on a construction site?
When you’re injured during the course of your employment, your employer is responsible for your medical bills and lost wages. Florida Workers Compensation statutes, Title XXXl, Labor, §440, contain mandatory compliance provisions. Except for exempted situations, all employers must purchase a Worker’s Compensation insurance policy or apply for self-insurance status. To qualify as a self-insurer, an employer must submit an application, a surety bond, and additional required documentation.
Self-insured employers. When an employer self-insures for Worker’s Compensation coverage, they pay an injured employee’s medical and wage loss benefits out of their own funds. Self-insured employers also implement their own claim handling processes. Some companies delegate worker’s compensation claims-handling as a Human Resources function. Others hire independent claim handlers. If a company has a high volume of reported claims, it sometimes set up a separate claims-handling unit that operates out of its company offices. Self-insured entities must still comply with state statutes and claim handling procedures.
Am I entitled to immediate wage loss benefits if I can’t work?
Employers usually communicate with you soon after your initial treatment to determine your potential for returning to work. If you can’t work for 7 days, you qualify for wage loss benefits beginning on the 8th day.
You receive up to 104 weeks of payments based on your disability rating.
- Temporary Total Disability: You receive 66 2/3 percent of your regular wages.
- Temporary Partial Disability: If you can only perform work that pays less than your regular job, you receive up to 80 percent of the difference between your regular salary and your lower salary.
If you can’t work for 21 days or more, you receive payment for the initial 7 days. When you sustain a “critical” injury, you sometimes qualify for an 80 percent wage benefit for up to 6 months.
What happens if I can never perform my regular job duties again?
Once you reach “maximum medical improvement,” your doctor will determine if you have any permanent work restrictions. If you still can’t return to your previous job duties, you may receive benefits based on your doctor’s impairment rating.
Is there an easy way for me to calculate my future benefits?
The Division of Worker’s Compensation provides benefits calculators to help you determine your future benefit payments.
- Temporary Total Disability Calculator
- Temporary Partial Disability Calculator
- Impairment Income Calculator
The DWC cautions that they do not guarantee accuracy when you use their calculators. You should, therefore, consider the computation as a guide only.
Who is responsible for reporting my workplace accident?
You must report any workplace injury directly to your employer. Your employer then reports the claim to the company’s worker’s compensation insurer. Based on DWC guidelines, you have up to 30 days to report your injury. If you didn’t know that your injury was job-related, once a doctor confirms the connection, you have 30 days to advise your employer. When you delay reporting your injury, insurers may sometimes deny your claim.
The worker’s compensation statutes outline several acceptable reasons for a reporting delay.
- Employer-delayed reports,
- Injuries of an undetermined origin,
- Exceptional circumstances
Does my employer have a reporting deadline?
Your employer must report your claim to their insurer within 7 days or provide a contact number so you may make the report yourself. Once an insurance company receives your claim, the handling adjuster usually calls immediately. Within 3 days of receiving your claim, a worker’s compensation insurer must also send you a packet containing a copy of your claim report, a fraud statement, medical releases, mileage submission forms, and information about your rights and responsibilities. The DWC sometimes fines employers or insurance companies that fail to comply with their reporting and contact responsibilities.
How do I verify that my employer has worker’s compensation coverage?
Employers should display the “Broken Arm” poster that shows both their insurer and the DWC’s contact information. You may also verify your employer’s coverage status on the Division of Worker’s Compensation Compliance Proof of Coverage Search Page.
What do I do if my employer refuses to report my accident?
If your employer fails or refuses to file an accident report, call us, and we can help report the claim to your employer’s worker’s compensation insurer.
May I go to my own doctor for treatment?
Yes, but workers’ comp may not cover those medical expenses. When you file a worker’s compensation claim, your employer or their insurance company may provide the name of an authorized physician. If you need emergency medical care and your employer is unavailable, don’t delay your treatment. Go to an emergency room, then contact your employer for further guidance.
You may need to seek a second opinion if the insurance company—who may lack the qualifications or training to evaluate your injury—recommends the denial of your cliam, or tries to say you’re not as disabled or injured as you are. Call our Tampa construction accident lawyers for help in navigating that process.
What type of injuries does worker’s compensation insurance cover?
Worker’s compensation coverage pays for treatment for any injury you sustain while doing your job. Because construction jobs vary so widely, injuries can range from minor to catastrophic. Construction site injuries often cause numerous conditions and illnesses and can involve every part of your body.
Common examples include:
- Electrical burns from contact with electrical wires
- Anoxic brain damage due to trench collapses and gas exposure
- Multiple trauma caused by vehicle accidents
- Chemical burns and inhalation injuries from toxic solvents
- Multiple fractures from high-elevation falls
- Crushed limbs from malfunctioning machinery and heavy equipment operator negligence
- Multiple injuries due to material loading and unloading accidents
- Back strains and sprains and other soft tissue injuries from overexertion
What if I disagree with the way the insurance company is handling my claim?
If you can’t resolve an issue with the insurance company adjuster handling your claim, you can contact the WC hotline at 1-800-342-1741. You may also file a Petition for Worker’s Compensation Benefits with the Offices of the Judges of Compensation Claims.
OJCC provides information and resources.
- The website provides downloadable petitions and forms.
- It has links to Florida Worker’s Compensation statutes and other resources.
- You can review the OJCC Rules of Civil Procedure to help you with the formal process.
- You may register to access E-JCC filing options.
The worker’s compensation process can confuse almost anyone. The Division of Worker’s Compensation suggests that you consider hiring an attorney to handle your dispute and petition process, so give us a call now.
Can I recover pain and suffering damages from my employer?
Not through workers’ comp. When you sustain an injury on the job or while conducting your employer’s operations, your employer’s worker’s compensation benefits may not address the full scope of your damages.
Depending on how the accident occurred, you sometimes have a legal right to pursue a liability claim or file a lawsuit against third parties, where you can claim pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages.
Examples that could precipitate a third-party claim might include:
- A non-employer or non-coworker caused your injuries.
- Another contractor on the job caused your injuries and isn’t considered your co-employee based on worker’s compensation definitions.
- A defective or malfunctioning product injured you.
- Another driver caused a vehicle accident in which you were injured.
- You’re injured by a premises hazard or defect on someone’s property.
How do I make a liability claim for my injuries?
Before you make a liability claim against a third party, you must identify all the responsible entities. Whether a negligent contractor, a hazardous construction site, or a defective product caused your injuries, you must have enough evidence to prove your case. This often requires a comprehensive investigation, product testing, witness testimony, and thorough case preparation.
Do I have to file a lawsuit to recover damages from a negligent third party?
If an insurer’s liability investigation determines that their insured caused your damages, they may attempt to settle your claim. They may negotiate a settlement or resolve your case through mediation.
Subrogation rights. As you contemplate settling your claim, you must also consider the worker’s compensation insurer’s subrogation rights. Under Florida’s worker’s compensation statutes, §440.39, compensation carriers have the right to recover damages paid out to injured workers. When you settle your claim or receive a court judgment, you have a duty to protect their rights and help them recover the money they paid out for your benefits.
How often do construction accidents occur in the Tampa area each year?
Florida’s Division of Worker’s Compensation tracks statewide and local claim statistics. Recent records show the following numbers for the Tampa area.
- 3,405 Tampa area workers submitted accident injury reports from all industries.
- Construction accidents caused 443 of the injuries in the county.
- Six workers sustained fatal injuries countywide.
- One worker sustained fatal injuries due to a construction accident.
What are the most frequent causes of construction worker deaths?
The Occupational Safety Health Administration documents reported workplace accidents across the county. They also conduct on-site investigations after serious or fatal incidents. OSHA records show that four types of events cause numerous construction accident fatalities.
During one year alone, a total of 58.6 percent of the 1,008 construction accident deaths in the country occurred because of the “Fatal Four.”
- Falls: Falls caused 338 of the construction fatalities.
- Struck by object: 112 construction workers died after being struck by an object.
- Electrocutions: 86 construction workers died due to contact with live lines or other electrical equipment.
- Caught-in/between: 55 construction workers died when compressed by or caught in between falling structures, equipment, materials, or machinery.
What does OSHA do when a workplace accident occurs?
When OSHA conducts a workplace investigation, they look for hazards and safety violations. If they find a problem, they sometimes cite the company and issue a fine.
Does OSHA investigate every workplace injury?
As the agency has jurisdiction over seven-million worksites nationwide, they don’t inspect and investigate every workplace accident.
OSHA conducts regular investigations based on a prioritized list.
- Imminent danger: OSHA investigates workplace situations with immediate potential for deadly or serious injury accidents.
- Severe injuries/illnesses: OSHA requires all employers to report any severe accident with injuries.
- Worker complaints: When a worker reports a dangerous condition, OSHA often investigates.
- Referrals: OSHA sometimes responds to reports from state, local, and federal agencies, and also news media.
- Targeted: Agents inspect workplaces known for hazardous conditions and injuries.
- Follow-up: When an agency representative issues a citation, they often follow up to determine compliance.
Can I report a complaint to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration?
If you have a complaint about hazardous workplace conditions, visit the OSHA website at osha.gov. You’ll find links to file a complaint. You can also search for an employer’s previous inspections. A link for employers allows them to make mandatory reports for serious workplace injuries or fatalities.
Does OSHA have local offices?
OSHA has three regional offices in Florida.
- Fort Lauderdale: (954) 424-0242
- Jacksonville: (904) 232-2895
- Tampa: (813) 626-1177
Do I need an attorney to handle my construction accident claim?
Yes. When you must rely on an insurer to provide financial resources for you and your family, you shouldn’t leave anything to chance. When you’re injured in a construction accident, it’s always a good idea to consult with our construction accident lawyers. We understand worker’s compensation and negligence laws. We know how to investigate our clients’ accidents and work to recover benefits and damages from worker’s compensation carriers and negligent third parties.
When you consult us, you make the ultimate decision on how you choose to handle your claim. Our construction accident attorneys will talk to you to learn more about your construction accident. We explain your legal options, and you decide how you wish to proceed.
Contact a Tampa Construction Accident Attorney Today
If you suffered serious injuries on a construction site, do not wait to seek compensation for the full cost of your injuries. The sooner you start working with our Tampa personal injury lawyers, the better we can collect evidence on your behalf and the quicker we can take action to secure compensation for you. Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Accident Injury Lawyers today at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH).