Accidents Involving Construction Equipment: Legal Rights & Compensation
Many industries have workers that run heavy equipment such as paving and earth-moving machines, and other large equipment. These heavy equipment operators may work on a commercial construction site, build roadways, or dig underground.
Workers' exposure to the risk of heavy equipment accidents is influenced by the equipment or heavy machinery they use in their operational environment.
Were you injured in a construction accident involving heavy equipment? Did you suffer construction injuries or lose a loved one from a preventable fatality?
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC for Heavy Equipment Accidents
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC represent injured victims harmed in hazardous conditions. Contact our construction accident lawyers today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options.
Types of Heavy Equipment Used on Construction Sites and Other Industrial Environments
There are distinct types of heavy equipment that require a skilled operator to run them. In 2022 there were over 410,863 workers that ran heavy equipment in the US.
These workers were all employed, with only 4% being self-employed. The top industries that employed these operators were:
- Road and bridge construction
- State and local government projects
- Utility companies
- Specialty trades
These workers may be driving and maintaining equipment such as:
- Paving or asphalt equipment
- Front-end loaders or front loaders
- Dump trucks
- Pile-driving equipment
These machines are heavy and have many moving parts. Machinery safety features and proper use are crucial to prevent accidents for operators and other workers.
If you or a family member were injured while working as a heavy equipment operator during a construction accident, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Contact the construction injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC for more information and a free review of your legal rights and options.
Dangerous Workplace Conditions and Injured Construction Workers
According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 5300 workers died in construction accidents in 2019. On average, construction fatalities from accidents accounted for more than 100 every week, or 15 preventable deaths each day.
Over 1,050 workplace fatalities occurred that year in the construction industry, accounting for 20% of all worker deaths nationwide. The most common causes of OSHA standard violations included:
- Failing to use fall protection on construction sites when working at any height
- Scaffolding problems, including falling and collapses
- Operating equipment on uneven ground or uneven surfaces
- Lockout/tag-out fatalities from failing to control hazardous energy
- Failing to use adequate respiratory protection to avoid inhaling toxic chemicals
- Falls from ladders, scaffolding, lifts, and other elevating equipment
- Accidental contact with a power line
- Failing to use machine guards and other safety features
- Failing to wear protective equipment - face and eye protection
- Failing to train workers adequately
Statistically, fatal injuries in equipment accidents dropped by more than 40% in the last five decades from 38 deaths each day in 1970 to 15 deaths daily in 2019.
Heavy Equipment Injuries
When operating heavy equipment, the operator must maintain a safe workplace. Equipment accidents can be deadly to machinery operators and those working on the same site.
Some common causes of heavy equipment accidents are -
- A tip or rollover construction injury accident - A 2016 Journal of Safety Research study states over half of the heavy equipment operator deaths are from rollover construction accidents.
- Collision or backup - A significant source of common injuries involving heavy equipment involves backing up or hitting workers on the ground, with workers falling from the platform attached to machinery.
- Repetitive motion injuries - Heavy equipment operators often work controls for several hours a day, so repetitive motion injuries are common to muscles and tendons.
- Hearing loss - The excessive noise associated with heavy equipment can cause hearing damage.
Highway and street construction is one of the leading employers of heavy equipment operators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are an average of 100 fatalities yearly and over 20,000 construction accident injuries. Of all these injuries, 30% involve heavy equipment operators.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Nearly every construction worker is eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits when involved in a heavy equipment accident in the workplace.
In Illinois, the worker’s compensation “no-fault” system is a monetary benefit program paying benefits to employees injured on the job until they heal sufficiently to return to work.
When accidents occur, an injured employee harmed on the job does not have to prove that someone else’s negligence led to their work injuries.
The employee only has to prove that they suffered a construction injury and that it happened during the scope or course of their employment. For validation purposes, the worker must document that their injuries from the construction accident are real.
To receive workers’ compensation payments, the injured employee must agree not to sue their employer unless the employee can show that the employer’s negligence was egregious or intentional.
Filing a Third-Party Claim
In addition to receiving worker’s compensation benefits, the injured employee might be entitled to file a civil lawsuit or claim against a third-party person or entity.
Third-parties such as subcontractors, vendors, architects, suppliers, engineers, on-site visitors, equipment manufacturers, heavy equipment rental companies, or others can be held liable.
The most common construction accidents involving a third party include the following -
- Falling from heights as with scaffolding incorrectly erected or the platform attached to machinery.
- Being struck by a heavy equipment operator or equipment loads, especially with dump trucks.
- Heavy equipment driver making contact with live power lines.
- Defectively designed safety equipment, including fall protection and harnesses.
- Electrical malfunction of equipment.
- Poorly maintained equipment.
- Hazardous chemicals/toxins spillage like asbestos.
- Suffocation with a barrier trench collapse.
- Failure to give the worker proper training in safety procedures.
- Failure to train workers in machinery operation.
- Failure to provide rollover protection systems and protective equipment.
- Failure to provide machine guards and other safety features.
Sometimes, the victim is injured due to equipment malfunction due to substandard manufacturing or faulty design of the entire machine. The manufacturer, designer, or supplier can be held liable in a product liability lawsuit.
Product Liability Claim in Heavy Equipment Accidents
A product liability lawsuit is a civil action in court. These construction accident cases are built on establishing the following elements, including -
- The piece of equipment or tool that injured the employee was unreasonably dangerous or with insufficient safety features
- The designer, manufacturer, or supplier allowed the sale of the dangerous piece of equipment
- The victim was using the equipment or tools in the manner of the design
- The dangerous defect caused the equipment or tool to injure the victim
Severe construction accident workplace injuries include head trauma, spinal cord injuries, severed limbs (amputation), deep cuts, lacerations, internal organ damage, and crush injuries.
Construction Worker Injuries FAQs
Our Chicago construction accident attorneys know that many families have unanswered questions concerning filing and resolving an injury case or a worker’s compensation claim. Our law firm has answered some of those questions below.
Contact a personal injury lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. A construction accident lawyer is ready to help.
What is the most common injury in construction?
More employees suffer a construction site injury from falling on the job than any other type of harm in the workplace. A construction accident can occur from working at any height, on a scaffold or ladder, or a slippery surface.
Most accidents are preventable if the employer provides fall protection equipment and follows safety procedures. Construction companies could be held legally liable for a worker injured in a construction accident, and paid through the worker's compensation program or from an insurance company policy.
How do construction workers die?
Equipment or heavy machinery accidents happen every day, where workers suffer construction site injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, and wrongful death. Typically, the worksite is extremely dangerous, placing nearby workers at risk of injury in a heavy equipment accident.
Heavy machinery accidents happen when safety regulations are violated by the worker, foreman, subcontractor, or general contractor.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, two construction workers lose their lives each day nationwide on construction sites and heavy machinery accidents. More men die each year in heavy machinery accidents than women.
Many accidents result from defective tools from the equipment manufacturer or supplier. Other fatalities involve falling, electrocution, being struck by an object, or crushing injury when caught between objects or machinery.
What are significant injuries that can occur on a construction site?
Heavy equipment accidents can result in serious harm. The most common types of injuries sustained by workers include -
- Traumatic brain injury
- Fractures and broken bones
- Fatal electrocution or electrical shock - power lines contact
- Severed or amputated limbs
- Crush injuries of soft tissues or limbs
- Burns from explosions or exposure to fire
- Machinery abrasions, lacerations, and cuts
- Suffocation from collapsing trenches
- Exposure to hazardous material
- Repetitive motion injury
- Exhaustion from overexertion
Injured workers that have suffered any of these common injuries caused by heavy equipment accidents on a job site can contact our heavy equipment accident lawyer to seek compensation on their behalf.
What damages can be claimed from workers comp?
Nearly every employer and general contractor must carry workers compensation insurance to pay for a construction accident injury claim. Should an employee be injured at the work site, it covers -
- Hospitalization costs
- Emergency room expenses
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages from time away from work
- Future lost earnings due to a temporary/permanent partial or total disability
Is construction the most dangerous industry?
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), nearly one in five worker fatalities in 2019 occurred during a construction accident. Over 1000 construction employees lost their lives in a construction accident that year.
One-third of those deaths occurred by falling from an elevated height, including on a scaffold, ladder, or platform.
Family members who lost loved ones in heavy equipment accidents could file a civil lawsuit to pursue compensation for damages.
Contact Chicago Construction Accident Lawyers, Experienced in Prosecuting Heavy Equipment Injury Cases
There is a significant risk of injury for those who operate and work close to heavy equipment on a construction project. Workers can suddenly be struck by heavy machinery, causing serious injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a heavy machinery accident, you need a law firm experienced in construction accidents to advise you on your legal rights.
The Chicago construction accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC are ready to work with you to get the best financial compensation your case deserves.
Contingency Fee Agreement
Our heavy equipment accident law firm accepts all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements, meaning you will pay no upfront fees until we have secured financial compensation for your family.
Call a construction accident lawyer at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form to schedule your free consultation. We can help ensure the value of your personal injury claim is maximized under Illinois law to provide for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Our Chicago lawyers represent clients across the United States and Illinois who have experienced construction site accidents.
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