Construction sites are dangerous places. In addition to work equipment being everywhere on the site, there are various construction materials that can be unsecured on the jobsite. Some of this construction equipment is in the form of debris. This presents a danger not just to people who are working on the jobsite, but also to pedestrians and motorists who are travelling in the vicinity of the site.
Falling debris is one of the leading causes of construction injuries and fatalities in the country. Falling debris injuries tend to be severe due to several factors that will be described below. If you or a loved one have been injured by falling debris, you can file a falling debris lawsuit. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers are experienced falling debris attorneys who have a proven track record of getting results for their clients.
What are the Legal Obligations of Employers to Protect Workers From Falling Debris?
Employers have a general obligation to their employees to provide them with both a safe workplace as well as adequate training to safely perform their jobs. When their employees suffer injuries from falling debris, these duties may be viewed to have breached in a way that would make them liable in a falling debris lawsuit.
In addition to a general obligation to ensure their workers’ safety, employers must also comply with OSHA rules. These rules are in place to protect workers. When an employer is cited for failure to follow an OSHA rule, it could be viewed as evidence of their negligence in a following trial.
With regard to falling objects, there are several OSHA rules that are in place and are intended to protest workers. Here are some of the safety rules about falling debris with which employers must comply:
- All material, equipment and tools must be secured when they are not being moved in order to prevent any accidental displacement.
- The controlling contractor shall bar other construction processes below steel erection unless overhead protection for the employees below is provided.
- The employer must provide employees with protection from falling objects. OSHA rules describe what is considered to be adequate protection from falling objects.
- OSHA has further rules that govern debris when there is demolition of a building involved. Some of these rules involve keeping workers out of the area where the demolition is being conducted, placing them at risk of being struck by falling debris.
Not only must employers take action out of a duty to their workers, but they also owe a duty to the general public to keep them safe from falling debris. This obligation is not governed by OSHA rules, but is part of the common law of negligence.
If You Have Been hit by Falling Debris, You may be Able to Recover
If you have been injured by falling debris when you were passing by a construction site, you may have a claim for financial compensation against the party that was responsible for your injuries. One who is in control of a construction site owes you a duty to take reasonable care so that you are not hurt by falling debris when you are walking or driving. While there are no legal guarantees, falling debris that injures passerby is very likely to be viewed as negligence by a jury.
Examples of Falling Debris Accidents at Worksites
Here are some examples of the type of accidents that can result in a falling debris injury:
- A construction worker is hit by a brick that has fallen from above them.
- Something may have caused a piece of debris to fly around a worksite and it strikes a worker.
- Construction workers can be throwing debris out the window of a worksite and the debris can strike someone who is either on the jobsite or is walking by.
- An object that is suspended from a crane can fall and strike someone standing below.
- Workers can get injured when they are trying to move to avoid debris. For example, the employee can be trying to avoid falling debris and can suffer and knee injury or a fall.
How to Prevent Falling Debris Accidents
Both the employer and the employee have their own obligations to protect against falling debris accidents. The employee can take a number of measures in order to secure debris and keep employees out of areas where there is likely to be falling debris. As mentioned above, the employer must follow OSHA rules. Here are some steps that they can and must take to protect against falling debris accidents:
- Make sure that debris is secured, especially from the upper levels of a building.
- Keep workers out of areas where there is likely to be objects falling
- Make sure that the flooring of upper level is strong enough to support the weight that it is bearing
- Provide workers with adequate protection from falling objects, including netting and other personal protective equipment.
Employees should take all possible precautions to protect themselves from falling debris. They should always wear their hardhat on the job. Unfortunately, sometimes a hardhat is not enough to protect themselves from falling debris. When bricks or some other hard material strikes a construction worker in the head when it falls from altitude, a hardhat may not provide complete protection from injury. In addition, workers should also make sure to stay out of areas where there is likely to be falling debris, especially if the employer has declared those areas off-limits. Defendants often try to argue that an accident was the fault of the injured and, as a result, they should not be required to pay compensation for a debris accident. Workers should exercise due caution so the defendant cannot successfully make that argument at trial.
Different Types of Falling Debris Injuries
Most falling debris injuries are the equivalent of blunt force trauma injuries because the objects that are falling come down from a high altitude with velocity. Therefore, they can cause serious physical damage if they hit a person instead of hitting the ground. These injuries have the potential to be severe, and can even be fatal in many instances. Here is some of what can happen to people who are struck by falling debris:
- Loss of Extremities - People can suffer crush injuries as the force of the debris shatters the bones that it hits. This can result in the loss of use of extremities. Some who are struck by falling debris can require amputations of the non-functioning limbs depending on the severity of an injury.
- Brain Injuries - When debris strikes someone in the head, it can cause a traumatic brain injury. This can result in the loss of some or all body functions.
- Paralysis - Falling debris can cause paralysis if it hit someone in the head or neck.
- Blindness – Sometimes, debris can be something small as opposed to a brick or a piece of steel. When it hits someone in the eye, they may either lose their sight or suffer a severe eye injury.
- Fractures – Falling debris often comes down with such force that it can break whatever bone it contacts.
Have You or a Loved one Been Injured by Falling Debris? Get Legal Help Now
The lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Attorneys have experience in helping those who have been injured by falling debris get the compensation that they deserve for their injuries. Contact us for a free initial compensation to discuss your case and the possible legal path to follow. You do not owe us anything for our time and we are only paid if we help you and your family achieve a financial recovery for the injuries. Falling debris lawsuits require legal expertise. Let us bring our experience to bear on your behalf or on behalf of your injured loved one.
How Much is my Falling Debris Case Worth?
While there are many factors that contribute to the value of your falling debris injury case such as: medical expenses, lost income, pain and disability (only mention if not mentioned earlier on the page) the cases below will hopefully give you some insight into how these cases are valued by juries, lawyers and insurance companies. While these cases can be instructive, they should not be conclusive in valuing your particular situation.
Settlement for $1.037 million in New York (2018) – The plaintiff was walking down the city street on the sidewalk. He was struck by debris that had fallen and suffered unspecified personal injuries. The lawsuit was filed against the building owner and the contractor claiming that they had created an unsafe environment for those lawfully on the premises. While the case was settled, there was an issue as to who was the responsible party for the plaintiff’s injuries.
Settlement for $330,000 in Massachusetts (2017) – The plaintiff was working on a construction project at a pier. There was a piece of steel that was left off top of a wall by a subcontractor. The steel vibrated off of the wall and fell on the plaintiff, causing injuries to his spine and his knee. The lawsuit was filed against the subcontractor for failing to remove the piece of steel from the worksite. The subcontractor argued that the plaintiff suffered from pre-existing conditions before it agreed to settle the case.
Plaintiff Verdict for $1,615,060 in New York (2016) – The plaintiff was working on a construction site for the Metropolitan Transportation Administration. He was helping in the lowering of concrete debris into a dumpster when one of the pieces of debris fell on his hand and crushed it. He lost part of his index finger and needed to undergo surgeries on his hand that could not restore the use of his hand. He also suffered from depression and became completely disabled as a result of the injury. The plaintiff was able to recover damages even though the jury found him to be 55 percent responsible for the accident.
Settlement for $750,000 in Michigan (2012) – This was a wrongful death case. The decedent was working on the renovation of a sewer outfall. There was a crane working in the area and the crane caused construction materials in the sewer outfall to move without warning. The debris struck the decedent, killing him. The lawsuit claimed that the defendant did not uphold their obligation to control the worksite and keep others working on site from causing injuries and harm and that the workers on the site were not properly trained.
Settlement for $1.29 million in California (2012) – The plaintiff was a foreman doing glass panel work on a high-rise construction project. He was struck in the back of his head by a guard rail. He was injured and unconscious even though he was wearing a helmet. The plaintiff suffered head injuries, although the extent of his injuries were in dispute. The lawsuit claimed that the area where debris could fall should have been marked off and workers should have been altered of the danger in the area.
Settlement for $1.75 million in Illinois (2012) – The plaintiff was a construction worker who was doing his work around a rock and tunnel structure. Rock from the structure fell and caused him to suffer unspecified personal injuries. The lawsuit claimed that the employer should have inspected the rock and tunnel structure to detect any danger for falling rock and should have warned workers about it. According to the plaintiff, the defendant should have removed the loose rock and that would have prevented the accident.
Plaintiff Verdict for $136,883 in New York (2012) – The plaintiff and another employee were cleaning masonry debris off of a scaffold. When he was cleaning the debris, he was struck by a falling brick which hit him on his neck and shoulder. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants were negligent in allowing debris to fall and failed to properly inspect the workplace.
Settlement for $450,000 in New Jersey (2010) – The plaintiff was hit in the eye by falling piece if debris when he was working at a house. He was working as a subcontractor for a flooring company. His lawsuit was against his employers for failing to have policies in place that would have required him to wear protective eyewear that would have kept the construction debris from hitting his eye.
Plaintiff Verdict for $890,000 in California (2009) – The plaintiff was not a construction worker, but was instead a salesman who was on the site wearing a hardhat. Someone from inside the house allegedly threw debris out of a window and it struck the plaintiff. The debris caused the plaintiff to suffer neck injuries. The plaintiff claimed that his injuries caused a reduction in his earnings as a salesman and that he could no longer golf or surf. The defense argued that his injuries did not come from the debris, but were instead from preexisting conditions.
Settlement for $271,000 in Nebraska (2010) – The plaintiff was working on a construction site and was cleaning out the debris chute. While the plaintiff was in the chute, a piece of debris fell through the chute and struck the plaintiff. The concrete injured the plaintiff’s neck and shoulder and necessitated the implantation of a spinal cord stimulator. The lawsuit claimed that the defendant was negligent by not ensuring that the debris chute was not being used when someone was inside of it cleaning it out.
Plaintiff Verdict for $2 million in Oklahoma (2010) – This was a wrongful death case. The decedent was drilling on an oil rig when the crown mast head above failed, causing debris to fall below. The falling debris struck three workers and killed one of the workers. The lawsuit alleged that the defendant failed to properly inspect the rig and, had it done so, it would not have collapsed and falling debris would not have struck anyone.
Settlement for $980,278 in New York (2009) – The plaintiff was working on a construction crew that was building a dormitory. Heavy debris fell from an upper floor and struck him in the back. The plaintiff suffered injuries that required him to undergo spine and disc surgery. The lawsuit claimed that one of the workers negligently concrete forms from a previously completed pour of one of the floors of the structure which loosened a concrete structure, causing the debris to come lose. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff was able to return to work after his surgery before ultimately settling the lawsuit.
Plaintiff Verdict for $2,819,261 in New York (2008) – The plaintiff was working on a construction crew that was demolishing a barn on state-owned property. An excavating machine was removing the debris as it was being demolished. It was being carried in a barrel that was fastened to the excavating machine. The jackhammer was also attached to the excavating machine. The plaintiff was hit by falling debris that caused spinal fractures and injuries to the hip that required a replacement.
Settlement for $200,000 in Illinois (2018) – The plaintiff was working on a construction site and was chipping away brick from a wall while in a boom lift basket. Several cinder blocks that were on top of the wall fell and struck him, causing unspecified personal injuries. The lawsuit claimed that a professional engineer should have surveyed the jobsite to ensure the condition of the building but that the structural integrity was not verified by the engineer.
Consult With a Falling Debris Injury Attorney Today
Let the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers help you with your falling debris injury lawsuit. Call us today to begin the process of filing your claim for compensation.