Ladder injuries can occur in a number of different settings. When ladder accidents to happen, they tend to result in severe injuries since the person has fallen from a significant height. The impact of the fall can cause severe and permanent injuries. While exercising due care can help prevent some ladder injuries, many accidents are not the fault of the injured at all, and there was nothing that could have prevented the injury.
Whether you were not at fault, or even if you were partially responsible for your injury, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation for your ladder accident. The ladder accident lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers have a wealth of experience in helping those who have been hurt by ladders recover for their injuries. Here is some more information about ladder accidents that you need to know and some tips about ladder safety.
Where do Ladder Injuries Occur?
Most ladder injuries occur at jobsites since construction workers often work with ladders. However, other people can get injured working on ladders. This can include people who are using a ladder at their home or on a job working in a house or an apartment. Here are some examples of possible ladder injuries:
- A worker in a store or a restaurant is struck by a ladder that has tipped over and falls.
- Someone on a ladder can be electrocuted when a ladder hits and overhead power line.
- A painter falls from the ladder when it shifts position and tips.
- A mason is injured when a ladder collapses under them and falls over.
Many of these injuries do not occur because the worker has used the ladder the wrong way. Instead, several other possibilities could be at work.
Types of Ladder Injuries
Ladders cause injury because the person falls to the ground with momentum from anywhere as high as 30 feet. When the person’s body contacts the ground, whichever part of their body hits the surface is susceptible to a serious and perhaps permanent injury. Here are some of the common injuries that people suffer from ladder accidents:
- Traumatic brain injuries that can impact a person for the rest of their life
- Paralysis including quadriplegic or paraplegic
- Fractured bones, especially the arms and legs
- Injuries to the neck and back
- Electrocution and electrical burns
How can I Recover for a Ladder Injury?
In order to receive compensation for a ladder accident, another party must be at fault in some way. Their actions must have caused your injuries. Here are some ways that others can be at fault for the accident that has injured you or a loved one.
- The manufacturer of a ladder can be found liable for your injuries in a product liability lawsuit if the ladder has been found to be defective. In addition, the store that sold you the ladder can also be held liable.
- An employer can be held responsible if they do not provide you with adequate fall protections on the job.
- An employer can also be responsible if they simply provided you with a ladder to do a job when they should have given you a much safer and more viable means of reaching heights.
- If the employer has ordered you to use the ladder in an unsafe manner such as placing it on top of a scaffold, they can be accountable for your injuries.
Statistics About Ladder Injuries
Falls from ladders are one of the leading causes of workplace injury and death. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) publishes statistics on ladder injuries. In 2017, nearly 1,000 workers were killed on the job on construction sites. Of these fatalities, roughly 40 percent of them resulted from falls on the job. A sizable part of these workplace fatalities involved falls from ladders. Here are some relevant statistics about ladder injuries:
- Ladder injuries are on the increase. In the ten years leading up to 2016, the number of people injured in ladder accidents has risen nearly 50%
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that half of ladder accidents occur when people are attempting to carry something up a ladder.
- About a third of ladder injuries involve fractures.
- Two thirds of the people injured by ladders were not properly trained in their usage. An employer must train employees who use ladders in the course of their jobs.
- Around one in five ladders that were involved in accidents had some sort of defect.
- Over 50% of the ladders that were involved in accidents were not secured at the time of the accident.
How to Prevent Ladder Injuries
According to OSHA, nearly every ladder accident can be prevented with proper training and safety measures. Of course, this excludes defective ladders that fail no matter the safety precautions that are taken. Employers need to train their workers in proper ladder safety and then need to ensure that their employees are using the ladder properly. The worker should visually inspect the ladder before using it.
When placing the ladder, one should make sure that it is secure and placed against a flat surface. It should never be placed on top of a scaffold since that is an unstable surface and many accidents occur when the scaffold shifts or moves, causing the ladder to fall. The most important thing with ladder safety is to have both hands and one foot on the ladder at all times.
Are There Ladder Rules From the Government?
Yes there are. OSHA does regulate the use of ladders in the workplace. There are workplace regulations that are contained in the Code of Federal Regulations. As far as businesses are concerned, they must follow OSHA rules for ladder safety. While businesses may not be prosecuted for breaking these rules, they can certainly be fined by the federal government. In addition, if the business has not followed an OSHA rule and a worker is injured, that may be the basis for a civil lawsuit where the worker can receive compensation for their injuries.
These rules include the following:
- Ladders used must be capable of supporting the load.
- Ladders must be able to sustain several times the maximum allowable load.
- Each step must be capable of supporting at least 25 pounds.
- The ladder’s steps must be shaped that an individual’s feet cannot slide off the rung.
- There are minimum distances between the side rails of the ladder.
- Ladders shall be used only for the purpose for which they were designed
These are just a handful of the many regulations that PSHA has about ladder safety. In fact, there is an entire section in the federal rule book about ladder safety.
OSHA will frequently cite employers for job safety violations involving ladders. In 2016, ladder safety was the seventh most cited job safety violations. In all, the agency reported over 2,500 violations involving ladders in that year. Here are some areas in which OSHA cited employers that involved violations of ladder rules:
- Workers were spotted using the top rung of the ladder as a step.
- Workers were carrying dangerous loads up ladders that were a risk of causing them to fall.
- Ladders were used for purposes other than which they were designed.
- The ladders used had structural defects.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a ladder accident, turn to the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for help with a possible legal claim against the person responsible for your injuries. We will help you from start to finish of your case, including if the case goes to trial. Let us put our extensive experience to work for you to get you the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
How Much is my Ladder Injury Case Worth?
While there are many factors that contribute to the value of your ladder 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.
Plaintiff Verdict for $1,804,696 in Florida (2019) – The plaintiff was working at a construction site and was standing on top of a ladder that was placed on top of scaffolding. The ladder and the scaffolding moved causing him to fall to the ground. In the fall, he suffered unspecified personal injuries. The lawsuit claimed in part that it was negligent to place a ladder on top of scaffolding and that the employer was negligent by failing to provide the proper work equipment. Approximately half of the jury verdict was for pain and suffering.
Plaintiff Verdict for $3.5 million in New York (2018) – The plaintiff claimed that he fell from a shaking ladder. There were no witnesses to the fall, but plaintiff was found in pain sitting next to a ladder and stating that he fell. At trial, the plaintiff claimed that he was on the second to top rung of a 12-foot ladder at the time of the fall although the ceiling was only nine feet high. Still, the jury found the defendant liable for the injuries. The plaintiff suffered injuries to his wrists that required a fusion as well as lumbar injuries that necessitated physical therapy and injections.
Plaintiff Verdict for $4.8 million in Texas (2018) – The plaintiff was standing on an aluminum stepladder when he fell to the ground. The ladder collapsed because one of the legs bent inward when he stepped on the ladder. In the fall, the plaintiff suffered serious injuries to him dominant arm which will cause him to lose the use of that arm for the rest of his life. The lawsuit was filed against the manufacturer of the ladder, claiming that the product was defective. Three quarters of the damage award was for future damages.
Settlement for $2.75 million in New York (2018) – The plaintiff was a sheet metal mechanic who was working on a renovation project. He was removing duct work from the ceiling when a piece of the duct work hit him and knocked him eight feet from the ladder to the floor. The plaintiff suffered a closed head injury and a traumatic brain injury in addition to lumbar and cervical herniations. The lawsuit claimed that the defendant was negligent because they should have provided adequate fall protection that would have kept the plaintiff from falling off of the ladder to the floor.
Plaintiff Verdict for $3.5 million in California (2018) – The plaintiff was working as a delivery driver and was unloading produce from a truck. He was climbing a ladder when it collapsed. He suffered injuries to his neck, back and knees that required surgery. The plaintiff was normally given a machine to unload the product, but on this occasion he was given only a ladder and told to unload the truck. The lawsuit claimed that the ladder was inadequate equipment for him to do his job and the ladder that he was provided was dangerous.
Settlement for $12 million in New York (2018) – The plaintiff was a construction worker who was at a demolition site. He was standing on a fixed ladder that was attached to the side of a rollaway container. The plaintiff, due to his injuries, was unable to testify about what knocked him off of the ladder, but he fell 15 feet to the ground. He suffered traumatic brain injuries that required a feeding tube and a catheter. The high cost of the settlement was because of the extensive injuries suffered by the plaintiff who now required around the clock care. Prior to the settlement, the issue in the litigation was whether the plaintiff, as a driver, was covered by the labor laws and entitled to judgment.
Settlement for $1.575 million in Florida (2018) – The plaintiff was attempting to climb a ladder to board a yacht. According to the lawsuit, the ladder was not firmly connected to the vessel but was instead based on wet gravel. When trying to use the ladder, the plaintiff fell and struck the asphalt surface. The plaintiff injured his hip in the fall and required surgery and was still suffering ongoing pain. The lawsuit alleged that the defendant was negligent because the ladder was not secured. After the accident, the marina replaced this ladder with a rolling safety ladder.
Plaintiff Verdict for $6,689,094 in New York (2018) – The plaintiff was on a ladder placing sheet rock tape at a construction site. The ladder was on top of a scaffolding when the scaffold collapsed, causing the plaintiff to fall ten to fifteen feet to the ground. The plaintiff suffered tears to both his knees and his shoulder in the fall. The plaintiff claimed that he would not be able to work in the future and would not be able to enjoy sporting activities. The court found as a matter of summary judgement that the defendant was liable for the fall and the only matter at issue in the trial was damages.
Plaintiff Verdict for $7 million in Iowa (2018) – This was a wrongful death claim. The decent was on a ladder drilling holes into a building for a vent fan. He fell 12 feet from the ladder and died several days later from his injuries. The lawsuit claimed, among other things, that the defendant did not provide a safe working environment, failed to properly train workers and gave the workers a defective ladder to use. The judge did assign the decedent 20 percent of the liability for the accident and reduced the award although the estate was still permitted to recover for the death.
Settlement for $1.195 million in New York (2018) – The plaintiff was a restaurant worker who was walking past the kitchen. There was an eight foot ladder that was leaning against a wall that fell and struck her. She suffered a lumbar herniation and tears to her shoulder. The defendant was liable for the injury even though the plaintiff was not a construction worker. The jury found the defendant liable after extensive fact finding over who left the ladder at the restaurant. The case settled before the damages part of the trial.
Settlement for $1 million in New Jersey (2017) – The plaintiff was working for a subcontractor at a real estate construction site. Some portions of the work required workers to reach ceilings that were 15 feet high. The plaintiff was allegedly directed to place a ladder on top of scaffold and his coworker would hold the ladder in place while the plaintiff worked. Although the plaintiff believed it to be dangerous, he complied with the directive. When he leaned to one side, the ladder fell and the plaintiff suffered a fractured humerus and a lumbar herniation. The case settled right after the jury announced that it had reached a verdict and before the verdict was read.
Plaintiff Judgement for $14,346,574 in Mississippi (2017) – The plaintiff was working for an HVAC company and was standing on an elevated deck. He tripped over a ladder that was allegedly left at the site by the defendant. He fell from the elevated deck and suffered serious injuries that left him a quadriplegic. The lawsuit claimed that the defendant was negligent by leaving work equipment scattered around an elevated deck and by having a deck that lacked safety or guard rails.
Settlement for $3.3 million in New York (2017) – The plaintiff was an electrician who was cutting through metal heating pipes that were suspended from the ceiling. A large section of the pipe suddenly swung down, causing the plaintiff to be knocked off from his ladder and fall to the ground. In the fall, the plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him with numerous cognitive defects as well as several fractures. The lawsuit claimed that the defendant should have had fall arrest equipment that would have prevented the plaintiff from falling off of his ladder. The defendant contended that there was fall arrest equipment, but the lawsuit alleged that there was nowhere to tie that equipment. The plaintiff claimed that he would not be able to work again and that he suffered ongoing pain after the accident.
Plaintiff Verdict for $2,434,000 in Iowa (2017) – The plaintiff was a home inspector who was on the roof of a home during an inspection. When he was stepping from the roof onto a 17 foot ladder, the ladder shifted, causing him to fall 12 feet to the ground. He suffered severe injuries including an L2 burst fracture and spinal hematoma which required multiple surgeries. The lawsuit was filed against the manufacturer of the ladder claiming that its design did not allow for it to remain stable when the ladder was fully extended. The lawsuit also claimed that the defendants breached their express warranties because many of the representations made about the ladder were not true.
Consult With a Ladder Accident Attorney Today
Let the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers help you with your ladder injury lawsuit. Call us today to begin the process of filing your claim for compensation.