Construction site injuries and deaths are a serious problem in the United States. According to OSHA, over a million construction workers were injured on the job in 2019, leading to devastating damages and financial strain for workers and their families.
Were you injured in a construction accident or lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our Decatur construction accident lawyers are legal advocates for injured workers fighting aggressively to ensure maximum compensation for their damages.
Contact our Decatur, IL personal injury law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with your Decatur construction accident attorney remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Dangerous Constructions Sites in Decatur, Illinois
According to the National Safety Council (NSC) and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), many hazardous construction sites have risen dramatically.
The data reveals that in 2015, there were 4,679 construction site injuries and 2,946 fatalities. In 2016, construction site deaths rose to 3,172, while serious injuries were 648.
These numbers do not count people killed or injured in non-construction-related incidents on sites, like being crushed by an excavator, struck by a falling object, or buried alive.
The top five most dangerous industry sectors, according to the NSC, are:
- Transportation & Warehousing
- Utility and power generation
The data revealed that more than half of all workplace deaths in 2016 were caused by numerous contributing factors:
- Falls from heights (35%),
- Being struck by objects (28%)
- Being struck by vehicles (18.5%)
Detailed analysis of the data focused on construction site deaths revealed that falls to lower levels was the leading cause of death, accounting for about one-third of fatalities.
Natural causes like heart attacks were the second leading cause of death, followed by being caught in or between objects and mobile equipment.
Roofing, Excavating, & Scaffolding
More than half of all construction site fatalities in 2016 occurred when workers were doing activities like roof work (19.4%). It was followed by excavation (11.5%), scaffolding (9%), and working with heavy equipment (7%).
Falling to a Lower Level
The leading causes of death for workers who fell to lower levels included being crushed by an object or equipment, struck by an object (most often a piece of heavy equipment), and struck by a vehicle.
The leading causes of death for workers crushed or struck by objects or tools included Being caught in/between machine components and vehicles and other objects like walls, fences, and poles.
Common Construction Accident Injuries
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), construction accidents could lead to moderate to catastrophic injuries.
Severe injuries to construction site workers include:
- Fractures (multiple types)
- Crushing injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Head injuries (concussions, skull fractures, etc.)
- Amputations from falls or flying objects
- Traumatic brain injuries / traumatic incidents
The CDC reports that construction accidents can cause chronic and latent conditions. These could include:
- Chronic pain syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Respiratory health issues
- Digestive problems/food poisoning
- Cardiovascular damage due to vibration, force, and repeated motion
Why Do Construction Sites Have So Many Accidents?
Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2016, 4.4 workers per 100,000 employees were killed daily. In addition, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports that construction-related incidents caused 1 out of 5 workplace deaths.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that in 2015 there were 1,748 fatal work injuries across all industries and more than one million work injuries.
A Construction Job Is a Dangerous Occupation
Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2016, 4.4 workers out of every hundred thousand employees were killed daily.
But sadly, nearly all construction accidents are preventable if everyone follows OSHA safety rules and regulations.
Independent research has found that most construction accidents are the result of the following unsafe working conditions:
- Insufficient fall protection
- Lack of safety equipment
- Defective construction equipment
- Netting and barriers to stop falling objects
- Falling materials
- Poor housekeeping/slippery surfaces
- Lack of training in proper machinery use or safe work habits
There are many reasons why job sites have so many construction accidents, but allowing workers to skip out on safety measures and regulations is not one.
If all managers, supervisors, and co-workers followed OSHA safety rules and regulations, perhaps the incident statistics would be more encouraging.
Construction Site Safety Tips for Workers
OSHA reports that construction accidents can cause moderate to catastrophic injuries like fractures (multiple types), crushing injuries, head injuries/concussions, amputations (falls or flying objects), and traumatic brain injury.
OSHA has many rules and regulations that keep safety of the highest priority in the workplace. However, these guidelines are for everyone’s benefit – not just specific protection for managers, supervisors, or construction company owners.
Workers need to know what hazards exist on the construction site to plan for ways to avoid accidents, injuries, or even fatalities.
OSHA offers several suggestions that all construction workers should follow when on-site, including:
- Always wear proper safety equipment that is fitted correctly
- Do not work alone unless there are exceptional circumstances involved (e.g., working in confined spaces)
- Be aware of construction site hazards
- Make sure that ladders are in good condition and properly secured before use
- Report any safety concerns to a supervisor immediately
No one should ever compromise their safety, but everyone is responsible for the safety of others on the job site. For example, if you see someone not wearing proper eye protection, you should inform them.
Be aware of what materials are used on construction sites and the potential health risks. If you have doubts about safety, ask questions immediately. If a construction worker takes the time to follow OSHA regulations, this could help prevent construction accidents or save lives.
Safety Tips for Machine Operators
All construction workers need to follow the construction company’s safety practices, but people who operate machinery also have their responsibilities. Therefore, OSHA recommends that all machine operators:
Do not overload machinery beyond its capacity. Doing so will cause unbalanced loads, and imbalance can cause a machine to tip over. Warning: Overloading your machinery may result in a severe injury if the machine tips over and falls on you.
Safety Guards and Shields
Ensure that safety guards and shields work properly before operating machinery or equipment that may potentially cause harm. If the safety guard is broken, request that it be fixed immediately.
Learn how to operate each piece of machinery that you use correctly. Training is imperative for your safety, but it will also help to prevent accidents on the job site.
All construction workers are responsible for keeping themselves and others around them safe, too. If you are working on a site where OSHA rules are not implemented or followed, you can report the employers to OSHA.
Many companies have been cited for not following safety guidelines, which is a good service.
Legal Remedies for Construction Accident Victims
Under Illinois law, injured workers and surviving family members have three options for obtaining financial compensation from all parties held liable.
The injured party can file for workers’ compensation benefits and a third-party compensation claim against those other than their employer, who might also be responsible for their damages.
Surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation after losing a loved one in a preventable death during or after a construction accident.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim for Injury Benefits
The injured victims harmed in a construction accident can file for workers’ compensation benefits paid through the workers’ compensation program.
This benefit program is mandatory for nearly all employers within the State of Illinois who must cover each employee to provide insurance for injured construction workers.
In a construction accident, the injured worker, or their legal representative, can file a claim seeking financial compensation through the workers’ compensation program. However, restrictions are based on the statute of limitations concerning the time to file a claim for worker’s compensation benefits.
The Illinois Statute of Limitations
The Illinois State Legislature has restricted the length to two years after the accident or the date of known exposure to toxic chemicals and other substances that caused a work-related illness.
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation benefits only pay for the victim’s medical bills and time away from work while healing. The payment does not cover non-economic damages, including pain, suffering, mental anxiety, and emotional stress over the accident.
Consider hiring a personal injury attorney specializing in worker’s compensation benefits to investigate how the accident happened.
Your construction accident lawyer may determine that other parties are involved who could also be part of a civil lawsuit for additional financial recovery.
Filing a Third-Party Claim
Sometimes, a personal injury attorney investigating a workers’ compensation case will determine if other people and entities are responsible for causing the construction accident.
When this occurs, they can assist the injured victim in filing a claim against all responsible parties to hold them accountable for damages.
Under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act, the claims administrator for your employer will request an investigation by a third-party insurance company. This report is sent to the administrator, who then decides whether or not to allow the claim for additional financial relief through legal action.
Suppose the administrator denies the application for compensation benefits. In that case, your Decatur construction accident attorney might recommend filing a lawsuit against the other parties directly to help maximize resolving your legal issues.
Contact our personal injury law firm today at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation.
Common Third-Party Defendants in Construction Accident Cases
Several parties could be held liable for their damages when a construction worker is injured on the job. Therefore, in addition to filing a workers’ compensation case, it’s essential to contact an experienced construction accident attorney immediately to ensure that all responsible parties will be held accountable for their actions or inactions leading to the accident.
In most construction accidents involving a third party, the injured construction worker can file a lawsuit against:
The Property Owner: In many construction accident cases, the property owner will be held responsible for any on-site injuries during a construction accident if they do not take appropriate safety precautions. Failure to provide proper security, fencing, lights, and other protective measures can be cited by the court.
The General Contractor: The company managing the project could be liable for damages if they did not fulfill their contractual duties to provide a safe work environment. They are responsible for hiring subcontractors who must follow building code regulations while always providing basic safety standards.
When the General Contractor is sued for damages, the Subcontractors and Sub-subcontractors involved may also be named in a third-party claim. It could include suppliers of any equipment or machinery needed to complete the project and any employees involved with on-site duties.
A Safety Inspector: If the injured worker can prove that the accident happened due to a lack of compliance with city, county, or state safety standards or building codes, they may file a lawsuit against the inspector who failed to enforce these standards.
Other Contractors and Subcontractors: In some construction accident cases, other workers on the job, not under the employment of the victim’s company, could be held legally liable if their intentional actions or neglect led to the victim’s injuries.
Product Manufacturers: Under strict liability laws, product manufacturers could be held legally liable if found that they designed, manufactured, or sold the defective products that led to the victim’s injuries. Under Illinois strict liability laws, the victim does not need to prove that the manufacturer knew or should have known their product was defective.
Government Agencies: If illegal or unauthorized code violations are found that led to the accident, local, state, and federal agencies could be sued for damages.
Insurance Companies: When a third-party claim is filed against your employer’s insurance company, it will trigger an investigation of any policies in place at the time of the incident.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
When surviving family members file a wrongful death lawsuit for compensation benefits, they must provide substantial evidence that their loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional actions.
A key goal of any wrongful death lawsuit is to prove the deceased victim would have received an Average Annual Salary based on the decedent’s projected income.
If this calculation can be broken down for each year following the accident, it will help identify the value of compensation benefits that should be awarded to the deceased victim’s estate.
Typically, family members can receive compensation to pay for all construction work-related damages, including:
- Funeral & burial costs
- Hospital expenses and medical bills
- Lost wages and future lost earnings
- Loss of familial support
- Loss of consortium and companionship
- The decedent’s pain and suffering before dying
- The family’s pain, suffering, grieving, and emotional distress over losing a loved one as a result of the accident
- Legal expenses and fees
- Punitive damages for wrongdoing that is found to be deliberate, reckless, or malicious
After looking at these numbers, our law firm puts together an example of how you can calculate wrongful death benefits:
- For this case study, a legal professional will use Brian as our decedent, who passed away on Feb 6th, 2020, after being struck by a car while riding his bike. It’s been five years since the accident, so Brian’s average salary is calculated over the last year of his projected income.
- Take the “average annual wage” and multiply it by 100 to get an approximation of what Brian would have made in total over his lifetime, $50,000 * 100 = $500,000
Take the “average annual wage” and multiply it by the years that Brian would have been expected to work based on his age when he died. In this case, our super lawyers will use 35 as our projected year of death or $50,000 * 35 = 1,750,000 case valuation.
If an experienced attorney adds all these numbers, the total wrongful death benefits awarded to the family will equal $2,250,000.00.
Typical Qualifying Family Members
Family members have legal rights to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking financial compensation after losing a loved one. Under Illinois law, the typical qualifying family members might include:
- Surviving spouse: Can file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking damages for loss of consortium. Loss of Consortium refers to the ability to have marital relations with your partner, including but not limited to sexual relations, affectionate contact, and economic support from a spouse.
- Children: To be eligible to file a claim as a legal child who survived a deceased parent, you must be financially dependent on the parent at the time of the accident. It means you were either under 18 or an incapacitated adult who relied on your parents for financial support.
- Parents: There is no minimum age limit when your child qualifies as “dependent” on you if you are a surviving parent. If your child was still financially dependent on you after the accident, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking damages for the loss of financial support and care they received from you.
- Siblings: To qualify as a sibling eligible to seek compensation benefits in a wrongful death case under Illinois law, the deceased victim must have been a blood relative of the survivor. It doesn’t matter if you were a legally-adopted sibling, step or half-sibling, or even a foster child with your deceased family member.
If you have any questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Decatur, do not hesitate to call an experienced construction accident attorney from our law offices at ((888) 424-5757 or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation with our outstanding lawyers.
A Construction Accident Attorney Resolving Personal Injury Claims
Were you severely injured in a construction accident, or did you lose a loved one through a wrongful death caused by someone else’s negligence?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, our construction accident lawyers can fight on your behalf to ensure you receive maximum financial compensation for your damages.
Our personal injury law offices all construction accident claims and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This promise ensures you pay no upfront costs until your experienced construction accident attorney resolves your case through a negotiated settlement or jury award.
Call an experienced Decatur construction accident attorney today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form for immediate legal advice and to schedule a free consultation.