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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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Roofers, contractors, and property owners falling through skylights and roof openings risk injuries or death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports approximately a thousand skylight deaths annually, with thousands more severely injured from falling.

Are you the victim of a skylight fall, or did you lose a loved one in a wrongful death caused by another’s negligence? The construction accident injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can ensure your family receives the financial compensation they deserve.

Contact a skylight fall accident lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or through the contact form today to schedule a free consultation.

All information you share with our law offices remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.

Chicago Skylight Fall Accident attorney


Bringing Natural Sunlight from Above into the Building

Many commercial properties and residential homes are constructed with skylights that provide natural sunlight and energy savings. However, the skylight must have adequate fall protection safeguards to protect anyone on the roof from falling.

In recent years, the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) [1] analyzed and studied the issue of falling through skylights and enacted safeguarding regulations to protect workers on roofs.

Skylights provide many benefits to homeowners and commercial properties, including natural light, fresh air, and energy savings (energy star savings). The units let in light, warmth, and a rich sense of environment.

Hazardous Rooftops

Many skylight accidents are caused by the construction company failing to follow manufacturer guidelines, how to install/repair the skylight correctly, or provide workers with adequate fall prevention equipment. Data shows that many skylights falls result from:

  • Malfunctioning skylight screens
  • Defective skylight components
  • Skylight fiberglass panels [2]
  • Roof damage from skylight leaks
  • Missing screen grating
  • Defective protective screens
  • A lack of fixed covers and exterior bars

Improperly installed, aging and defective skylights have caused severe, consequential fall accidents, especially new and replacement units on construction sites.

Numerous legal options are available to recover financial compensation under the law. Our team of national trial lawyers will provide a free consultation to review your rights and determine possible financial compensation for your skylight injuries.

Our clients typically have any number of skylights, including tubular skylights, Velux skylights, fixed skylights, glass skylights, venting skylights, and even roof windows in hallways, the living room, or other parts of the home.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Skylight Safety Guidance

The US Department of Labor [3] identifies falling as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational deaths. Falling on a construction site, building, or residential home accounts for approximately 8.0% of all on-the-job fatalities caused by trauma.

OSHA mandates every employee to use personal fall protection equipment and safety nets around the roof opening to avoid skylight falls. Safeguards reduce accidents by preventing a slip and fall through the opening, leading to a skylight fatality.

Recent data from the US Department of Labor revealed preventable skylight deaths involving falls that include:

  • Skylight fatal fall, July 2020 – OSHA reported a 49-year-old male construction worker tasked with repairing poorly sealed or leaking skylights on a one-story commercial building fell through a different skylight, suffering blunt force traumatic injuries. The roofer hit the ground and died.
  • Skylight fatality, June 2020 – A 37-year-old male worker walking in a stadium roof gutter fell through a skylight to the ground 110 feet below, leading to fatal abrasions, contusions, and bruises.
  • Skylight fatality, April 2020 – A 39-year-old male construction company worker died at 4:45 PM while on the roof, removing metal roof panels during a warehouse demolition. The construction worker stepped through a collapsing fiberglass skylight, falling to the hard concrete surface 18 feet below, sustaining fatally traumatic injuries to the head, chest, and abdomen.
  • Skylight fatal fall, March 2020 – A 62-year-old male construction company worker died at 3:30 PM while walking backward on a multi-company construction project when unrolling a 100-foot Argonne welding hose. The man fell through the skylight to his death, down to the concrete floor 20 feet below.
  • Skylight fatality, March 2020 – OSHA reported a 26-year-old male construction company worker died at noon while re-roofing a one-story warehouse. The man fell through the skylight to the surface 25 feet below and was killed.
  • Skylight fatal fall, March 2020 – A 39-year-old male worker cleaning debris from a roof fell through an unprotected gin building skylight, landing on the concrete floor. The laborer was pronounced dead at 10:20 AM.
  • Skylight fatality, January 2020 – OSHA reported a 23-year-old male steel erection company worker and other employees were re-roofing a recycling center when stepping backward on a 1:12 pitch roof through the skylight to the concrete surface 16 feet below. The laborer struck his head on the floor during the fall and died.
  • Skylight fatality, January 2020 – A 43-year-old male multi-company construction project worker died while renovating a one-story commercial building when on the roof removing metal roofing sheets. The employee walked to another area on the roof, falling through the skylight to the concrete surface 14 feet below. The worker succumbed to his injuries.
  • Skylight death, December 2019 – OSHA reported a 34-year-old male construction company worker preparing to reroof a two-story commercial building climbed to the roof on a ladder to assess the skylights and direct the crane. While preparing to lift building materials, the worker stepped back and fell through a skylight 30 feet to the concrete surface. The fall caused multiple fatal injuries.
  • Skylight fatal fall, December 2019 – A 58-year-old HVAC company employee installing a commercial building AC blower fell through an unguarded skylight to the surface 27 feet below. Emergency medical technicians transported the injured worker to the local hospital for external trauma and multiple skull fracture injuries. However, the man died at the hospital later that day.
  • Skylight fatality, November 2019 – A 57-year-old male worker died at 1:30 PM after falling through an unguarded skylight while removing asbestos-containing flashing on the roof. The man suffered a fractured skull when hitting the concrete flooring 30 feet below and succumbed to his injuries.
  • Skylight death, November 2019 – OSHA reported a 58-year-old male employee fell through a skylight while retrieving an extension cord, landing on a roof vent that collapsed, causing the worker to fall 29 feet below at 10:30 AM. The fall led to fatal skull fractures.

Different Types of Skylights in Buildings Across Chicago

Contractors install skylights in residential and commercial buildings for numerous reasons, including better air circulation, roof entry, natural sunlight, and better views.

Skylight manufacturers offer different styles, including tubular (with a dome), fixed (with a solid perimeter frame), and ventilated (with a hinge to allow for opening). Each unit type requires the skylight installer to use expert care during installation and maintenance.

While skylights do not need ongoing care, the skylight curb mounds require attention to avoid serious problems that could lead to severe accidents. [4] Proper installation can better protect the worker from an accident and the property/building owner from liability.

Contact us immediately for more information on sun tunnels, aging, or defective skylights that could cause significant injuries. Skylight fall accidents might involve:

  • Tubular skylights
  • Venting skylights
  • Velux skylights
  • Velux sun tunnel
  • Fixed skylights
  • Fixed railing for roof windows and tubular skylights
  • Glass skylights

Severe Skylight Fall Injuries Happen in Chicago

Typically, fall accidents happen in the roofing process during building construction and skylight installations. Skylight accidents are often the result of substandard safety measures, including a lack of skylight safety guards, lighting, rails, signs, and other fall hazard preventative measures required by OSHA.

During this interim period, many construction workers, roofers, other employees, and anyone with roof access risk falling through a skylight. Yet, even after construction, skylights remain dangerous and could continually cause problems.

Many unsuspecting victims suffer the most severe skylight injuries, including:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Severe fractures and broken bones
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Organ damage
  • Internal injuries
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Contusions

Typically, skylight death occurs from a significant fall hazard like when the skylight breaks underneath the anchor, during roof repairs, or a lack of surrounding support beams when replacing aging or leaking skylights due to the material’s considerable weight.

If you have been involved in a Chicago skylight accident, get medical attention quickly to determine the full extent of your injuries.

Chicago Skylight Fall Accident law firm


Facts and Figures: Skylight Fall Accidents

  • Hundreds of thousands of skylights in the United States have been installed in Chicago area residential homes in commercial properties.
  • Dozens of fatal skylight accidents occur each year.
  • Thousands of skylight accidents with severe injuries occur annually.
  • Most skylight accidents with severe injuries involve fractures, herniated discs, concussions, and soft tissue damage.
  • Skylight death occurs most often when employees work on roofs.
  • Skylight accidents can cost tens of thousands of dollars for each case due to medical expenses, property damage, and related costs.

Making Skylight Installations Safer

Skylight installations can be a great way to bring in natural light and provide views of the outdoors. However, skylight units must be properly installed and functioning correctly.

Safety measures such as checking windows for seals to reduce drafts, ensuring secure fastenings and double-checking measurements can help prevent accidents or damages.

Installing high-quality skylights and up-to-code regulations can also greatly reduce the potential risk of injury or property damage.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the US Department of Labor [5] mandate that all construction companies must follow their regulations to ensure everyone’s safety, including workers, residents, and the building owner.

These guidelines include:

  • Cover skylights with a dome or other material
  • Limit access to the roof through locks, fences, or other devices
  • Erect signs that alert people to the presence of skylights
  • Use an anchor and body harness whenever in the vicinity of a skylight
  • Place handrails and other safeguards near skylights
  • Inform and instruct people about the presence of skylights and how to avoid accidents

If you have questions about how to prevent skylight accidents, contact our offices at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number). Our team of skylight injury attorneys helps victims of these incidents.

Personal Fall Arrest Systems Save Lives

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) [6], construction workers and roofers must wear a personal fall arrest system that prevents employees from falling from the roof.

Personal fall protection equipment is designed with a connector, anchor, and body harness that stops skylight falls through a harness attached to a lifeline.

Many systems are equipped with a lanyard, a flexible line of strapping, wire, or rope that connects the body harness to the anchor. Other systems use a flexible lifeline or positioning system that allows the employee to stay in one position hands-free.

All employees working at any height must use personal fall arrest systems after receiving proper training to properly use the anchor, body harness, and connectors when working with protective screens.

The training provides valuable information on how to properly attach the connecting device to the anchor point, including:

  • Never working directly under the anchor to prevent swinging or striking objects when falling
  • Ensuring that the line from the anchor point to the body harness is shorter than the fall to the lower level
  • Never allowing a skylight installer to attach multiple lanyards to the same anchor point
  • A properly fitted and used fall arrest system and catch platforms can avoid serious injuries during a fall

Bring a Claim for Financial Compensation After a Skylight Accident in Illinois

Winning an Illinois skylight injury case requires proving the four elements that some business or someone’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s harm. These elements include:

  • The defendant had a duty to provide the victim with safety
  • The defendant breached their duty
  • The defendant can be held responsible if their breach of duty led to the victim’s damages
  • The victim’s damages are actual and provable

Each element requires factual and legal contentions underpinning them. After the victim files a civil lawsuit, they can enter settlement negotiations.

This out-of-court conference can expedite the settlement and short-circuit a lengthy trial process entailing unforeseen hurdles and risks.

A personal injury attorney working on behalf of a personal injury victim can provide legal advice and options on how to proceed against filing an insurance claim against any relevant insurance company to maximize their compensation.

Our group of skylight fall accident lawyers helps construction workers and other victims obtain the maximum financial compensation Illinois law allows.

Our personal injury attorneys have extraordinary experience and commitment to helping people recover from these events. During a free consultation, let’s discuss your right to recover from your harm.

The Value of Chicago Skylight Accident Cases

The value of any case in Illinois is typically determined by the plaintiff’s economic and non-economic damages. Typically, it is broken down into two main baskets of recovery.

The Plaintiff’s Expenses

Skylight accident victims can pursue financial compensation for all the costs that the incident caused them out of pocket (economic), including:

  • Medical bills and hospital costs
  • Lost wages
  • Future medical expenses
  • Costs of ongoing therapy, rehabilitation, and medical treatment
  • Personal property damages, etc.
  • Pain and suffering
  • Funeral and burial Costs in wrongful death cases

The Plaintiff’s Suffering

Skylight accident victims may seek financial compensation for the pain and other intangible (non-economic) harm the event created, such as disability, long-term suffering, reduced life quality, etc.

To understand what your Chicago skylight accident case may be worth, speak with one of our personal injury lawyers.

3 Steps You Need to Take After a Skylight Accident in Chicago

The steps a Chicago skylight accident victim takes early can protect their health and legal rights. The victim should first seek medical attention to understand the extent of their severe injuries and accurately record what will be required to heal completely.

Next, the victim should write down exactly what happened before their memory fades from the details.

Contacting an experienced Chicago skylight accident law firm can help victims avoid mistakes, speed up their personal injury claims process, and save time and money in resolving their cases.

If you have questions about what to do after falling from a skylight, use our contact form or call us today. A personal injury lawyer from our law office can help!

Wrongful Death from a Skylight Accident

A loved one tragically killed in a skylight fall can devastate survivors. In some cases, the accident may have been caused by negligence on the part of those responsible for overseeing and managing the area’s safety.

In these fatal skylight fall accidents, survivors may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Complex Cases

These lawsuits are designed to compensate those who have lost a loved one due to negligence or recklessness on behalf of another person or entity. These cases can be complex and require evidence that shows how another party’s negligence was responsible for the death, which might include:

  • Failing to properly maintain the skylight
  • Failing to install safety guards around it
  • Providing inadequate warnings about its presence

The first step in filing a wrongful death lawsuit is determining how the accident occurred and who is accountable, including:

  • Defendants in a fatal skylight injury case could include individuals or businesses in charge of designing, constructing, maintaining, operating, inspecting, and cleaning the premises.
  • Contractors who were hired to perform those tasks but failed to do so correctly could also be at fault for how the accident occurred.
  • Any product manufacturers whose products contributed to the incident may be liable if they did not meet expected safety and quality control standards.

Gathering Evidence

Once the fault has been determined, survivors should document all facts relating to their loved one’s death that can support their claim. Evidence might include:

  • Gathering medical records from prior injuries or illnesses resulting from the fatal fall [7]
  • Taking photographs of the accident scene
  • Obtaining witness accounts, police reports, and maintenance logs
  • Reviewing product warning labels and building inspection reports
  • Getting documents related to any insurance policies held by potential defendants involved in negligence claims against them
  • Calculating all medical bills, hospital costs, and funeral expenses
  • Acquiring relevant information that can help prove causation between negligence and death

After collecting the necessary evidence, qualified legal counsel should be sought out who specializes in wrongful death cases involving skylight falls. Multiple parties might have varying responsibilities for causing injury or death due to negligent acts or omissions.

An experienced lawyer who amicably resolves cases involving skylight falls will guide survivors through filing a claim and developing an effective strategy for proving fault.

The attorney will obtain proper compensation for damages incurred due to an untimely loss of life related to a skylight fall accident caused by neglectful behaviors by another party involved in some way with its oversight or management.

Chicago Skylight Fall Accident lawyer

Skylight Accident Frequently Asked Questions

The questions below address some of the more commonly encountered situations by individuals and families following a skylight accident in Illinois. Should you have additional questions, we invite you to contact our law office and discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer from our law office.

What OSHA Regulations Govern Construction and Installation of Skylights to Protect Workers?

Recognizing the dangers of installing and replacing skylights on residential and commercial properties, US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires each skylight opening hole to be guarded by a screen or fixed railing on all sides to protect workers from falling through roof openings. See 29 CFR* 1910.23(a)(4)].

According to OSHA, the construction and installation of skylights must meet stringent safety standards to ensure worker protection. OSHA requires that skylights be clearly visible from below and equipped with appropriate railings, handholds, covers, or other forms of fall protection. [8]

The skylight base should be securely attached to the roof structure with pressure-treated wood blocking or lag bolts, and each panel must be secured with screws or fasteners.

Skylight fixed covers and exterior bars must include a locking mechanism that prevents accidental opening while providing access for maintenance. Lastly, employers must ensure that all workers receive proper training on safe working procedures related to skylight installation.

Can Skylight Holes be Used to Dispose of Construction Debris?

Disposing of construction debris through a skylight hole requires a completely enclosed chute protected by barricades as specified by OSHA regulation 1926.252 (Disposal of waste materials). [9]

Skylight holes can be used for disposing of construction debris under certain circumstances.

According to OSHA regulations, skylight openings must be covered with a grate, steel plate, or other suitable material to prevent objects from falling into the opening and creating a hazard for workers.

However, if those objects are lightweight and non-hazardous, the skylight opening can be used as an entry point for disposing of debris. Employers should always ensure that these objects are securely fastened or placed within an enclosure to prevent accidental skylight falls.

Additionally, employers should provide appropriate fall prevention equipment, like harnesses and helmets to workers who may traverse these openings while working at height.

Who are Potential Defendants in a Skylight Fall Lawsuit?

Workers injured in accidents and who suffered severe skylight injuries or surviving family members of employees killed in skylight accidents likely have legal rights to recover compensation. Damages might involve compensation for their skylight fall injuries and lost wages from every responsible party.

Depending on the circumstances involved, an injured worker could pursue a claim against the general contractor, sub-contractors, architects, engineers, and skylight manufacturers.

Ascertaining which parties are responsible usually requires a consultation with an experienced construction site accident lawyer as soon as feasible to review all legal options, including filing a Workers’ Compensation claim.

How Long Do You Have to File a Skylight Fall Case Involving a Serious Injury or Death?

The Illinois State Legislature enacts laws, including the statute of limitations, that restrict the time a victim can file a personal injury lawsuit or workers’ compensation claim seeking financial compensation from all parties responsible for causing the accident involving damages.

Typically, the statute allows the victim to file a claim or lawsuit within two years of the accident that led to their damages.

However, there are often extenuating circumstances that could extend the time limit to file a claim. Only a competent personal injury attorney specializing in premises liability law can determine the length of time the victim can file.

Are Construction Companies Liable When Severe Skylight Injuries Happen to Workers?

A construction company failing to follow safety protocols by using safety guards, fall prevention gear, and safety nets can be liable for skylight injuries.

Under OSHA regulations, employers must use safety measures such as railings, handholds, skylight safety guards, and covers to ensure the safety of workers when working around skylights.

If a company fails to adhere to these standards, it can be held liable if a skylight fall accident or injury occurs while working around the skylight.

Additionally, employers must provide proper training to all workers involved in skylight installation and maintenance tasks.

Employers should also ensure that all necessary equipment is being used by workers while using the skylight to prevent skylight accidents and minimize potential risks of injury. Many skylight injuries happen through negligence when workers are making roof repairs.

Are Aging or Defective Skylights the Cause of Many Repair Accidents?

Aging or defective, and broken fixed skylights can cause many repair accidents. When skylights become damaged or wear out over time, they can become structurally unsafe and lead to potential safety hazards for workers.

Additionally, installation and repair processes involve various tools and equipment that must be handled carefully. If these steps are not properly followed, it could lead to serious injuries or death among workers on the roof making repairs.

Employers should inspect all skylights regularly and replace any damaged components, worn out components, or otherwise unsafe factors to maintain a safe working environment to prevent a skylight accident.

Can Someone Fall Through a Skylight?

Anyone on a roof can fall through a skylight. Most skylights are fabricated with plexiglass (plastic) which can become weak and brittle over time, making them vulnerable to breakage.

Additionally, some skylights are unsupported and can give way when too much weight is applied to a weak part.

To prevent falls, all skylight roof inspectors should regularly look for signs of damage. Repairs should be made immediately if there is any uncertainty about the skylight’s structural integrity.

Installing a new skylight correctly can prevent accidents to avoid harm. Many skylight injuries are avoidable, including:

All people on the roof should be aware of the potential hazards of a skylight fall and taught how to safely navigate around them.

Personal Injury Lawyers Specializing in Midwest and Chicago Skylight Accidents

Were you or a family member injured in a skylight accident, or did you lose a loved one through the wrongful death of another? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC help our clients resolve skylight accident lawsuits.

Our legal team serves as advocates committed to pursuing relief and financial compensation for Chicago area accident victims. Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation.

We understand that most families are not financially able to hire an attorney so we accept all cases on a contingency fee basis to avoid the need for any upfront payment until the case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury trial award.

Our national trial lawyers represent clients in various practice areas, including car crashes, trucking accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, nursing home abuse, defective medications, product liability, and wrongful death.

Resources: [1] NIOSH, [2] Building America Solution Center, [3] The US Department of Labor, [4] OSHA, [5] OSHA, [6] OSHA, [7] OSHA, [8] OSHA, [9] OSHA


Client Reviews

Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

- Michonne Proulx

Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own.

- Ethan Armstrong

Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan!

- Giulia

This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you.

- Daniel Kaim

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

- Lisa
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