Chicago Roof Fall Accident Attorney
Roof fall accidents are a significant concern in the construction industry and generally cause serious injury and death.
Many fall accidents will leave the victim critically injured, facing large medical expenses, and unable to work. In almost all cases, those who have been seriously hurt are not able to return to their job.
When horrific accidents occur, those who have been hurt working on a roof and their families need a Chicago construction accident lawyer to fight on their behalf. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has a long track record of helping roofing injury and fall accident victims get the legal justice and financial compensation they deserve.
Our personal injury lawyers currently represent clients throughout the United States, Illinois, and the Chicago area, including Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, Will County, Aurora, Chicago, Elgin, Naperville, and Schaumburg.
Roof Fall Accident FAQs
What Happens if You Fall off a Roof?
Many accident victims falling off a roof experience broken bones, intense pain, internal bleeding, organ damage, head trauma, or death. The impact of an injured party slamming their head against any surface could cause head trauma, traumatic brain injury, or a broken neck.
What Happens if a Roofer Falls off My Roof?
The legal determination of who is responsible if a roofer falls off your roof depends on the uniqueness of your case. In some incidents, the property owner might have a legal liability to pay for damages if the roofer can prove that the owner's negligence caused the fall.
Before hiring any roofer, ensure that the contractor has a current building license and adequate insurance coverage on their employees. Get documents from the contractor when possible or start searching for a licensed contractor with appropriate documents.
What is an Accidental Fall?
An accidental fall occurs when the victim unintentionally falls to the ground without any controllable moves. The accidental fall might result in no harm, a minor injury, severe trauma, catastrophic injuries, or death.
How can I Fix My Roof Without Falling off?
Homeowners can take practical steps when fixing a roof to prevent falling and suffering severe injury or death. Avoid working on steeply pitched roofs and leave that work to professionals.
Work on your dry roof surface only during the cooler times of the day in clear and calm weather. Wear soft rubber soles shoes only while on the roof and ensure that both shoes are free of dirt and mud. Finally, sweep any debris or dirt off the rooftop.
Can You Die From Falling off a Roof?
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), one out of three fall-related deaths is attributed to roof falls. Statistics reveal that over 650 fatal accidents involved falls in 2017, where the victim fell from a high or moderate height to a lower level.
Approximately half of those deaths occurred from falling twenty feet or less.
How Often do Roofer's Die?
Working on a roof is a significantly dangerous job, with the death rate of 29.9 wrongful deaths for every 100,000 roofers working full time. Approximately fifty roof workers die each year while on the job, mostly from falling from the roof to the ground.
Potential Roofing Injuries
Potential dangers lurk when individuals are working at any height. While exercising due care can prevent some roofing injuries, the worker is still at risk for things that they cannot control.
For example, the roof may collapse under those on the roof, and they can fall to the floors below. When roofs are being repaired, there is a danger because the roof may be unstable.
The hazards are even more pronounced when a roofer is working during or immediately after the winter when the weather might have weakened roofs. The apparent risk is that the worker could fall from height to the ground below or a lower floor.
While there should be some fall protection to keep workers from falling, employers do not always follow the rules. Falls from height are very likely to cause serious injury to the worker.
Another risk of working on a roof is that there are electrical utilities that might not be marked. The chances are that the roofer might not be familiar with the location of the utilities on the roof.
They might come into contact with these utilities when repairing or replacing shingles and may be electrocuted. Finally, an additional risk is that one standing on a roof may be struck by debris flying through the air from other parts of the roof.
For example, they can be struck in the eye by a piece of debris loosened in the roofing repair. One does not need to be working on the roof to be injured in a roofing accident.
It is common for materials to fall from the roof. Debris can be stored on the roof and can fall, striking one who is on the ground or a lower floor.
Here are some of the possible injuries that may result from a Chicago construction site accident:
- Fractures - This is perhaps the least severe injury that one may suffer when falling off a roof. However, some fractures may be so severe that they effectively shatter the bone and cost the person the use of an extremity permanently.
- Death - A significant proportion of roofing injuries may result in death due to the height involved.
- Paralysis - When one injures their back, neck, or head in a roofing accident, it can render them with quadriplegia or paraplegia if their spinal cord is damaged.
- Traumatic Brain Injury - Often, the roofer will suffer a head injury (brain injuries) when they fall because they have tripped and fall head or face first.
Dangers of Working on a Roof
Weather conditions might make working on a roof more dangerous than they ordinarily would be otherwise. Rain can make a roof more slippery, increasing the risk that a worker may fall from the roof.
Snow can weaken the surface of the roof as the heavyweight of the snow could make the ground sag and give way. Finally, wind could blow someone off the work or cause debris to blow off the roof to the ground below.
Employers must be conscious of the working conditions when their employees are engaged in work on the roof. They should take care to keep their employees out of danger.
If the employer has forced an employee to work through dangerous conditions, and they are injured, the employer may be found liable.
Statistics About Roofing Injuries
Falls are a significant cause of workplace death in the construction industry. In the United States, there were 711 deaths due to falls in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Roughly one-third of fatal falls happen from roofs. In the roofing industry, about three-quarters of the fatalities in roofing accidents result from falls. After falls, electrocution is the second-leading cause of death in roofing accidents.
The Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains a database of all rooftop incidents that result in deaths and severe injuries and gives a brief description of the facts of the accident. Here are some relevant fatal roofing accidents from 2018:
- An employee tripped on felt paper that he had left of the roof and fell to the basement stairs below and suffered a fractured skull.
- A roofer stepped on a skylight on the roof when repairing a one-story manufacturing building. He suffered unspecified injuries when he fell through the skylight.
- A roofer was removing shingles from a roof and contacted energized power lines and was electrocuted to death.
Determining Liability in a Chicago Roofing Accident Case
When one has been hurt in a roofing accident, one of the issues at trial will be responsible for the accident. There are several different possibilities, and a roofing accident lawyer will help you determine all parties that might be responsible for the accident.
One possibility is that the dangerous condition may be the fault of the property owner of the building on which the roof is being repaired. They may have been aware of the existence of the condition and failed to take the appropriate action or warn anyone of the danger.
The owner is generally in the best position to know of any hazards and make that everyone is aware of them. A second possibility is that the roofer's employer is responsible for their injuries.
As you will see below, there are numerous safety rules with which roofers must comply, and it is the employer who has the overall responsibility for compliance. When the rules are not followed, such as in incidents where workers are not adequately trained or were not given adequate safety equipment, the employer may be liable for their workers' injuries.
A third possibility is that another contractor on the roof can be liable for the injuries. A subcontractor may have left a piece of equipment on the roof or may have otherwise been responsible for the dangerous condition that the owner of the building may not have known about from which the employer could not protect.
The defendants in the case will invariably try to argue that it is the plaintiff themselves who is responsible for their injury. This defense will usually try to take the injured party's action and portray them as negligent, making it impossible to show that the defendant was the cause of the plaintiff's injury.
Hire a Chicago roofing accident lawyer when you are either negotiating a settlement of your injury claim or taking the case to trial.
Regulations That Protect Roofers
Like any other construction occupation, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has rules in place that must be followed in a workplace to protect the workers. In some instances, employers may not follow OSHA rules, whether it is due to a desire to take shortcuts or keep to a job schedule.
In any event, when an employer fails to follow an OSHA rule, this can be an issue in a lawsuit and can be evidence of negligence on the part of the employer. Below are some of the OSHA regulations that are in place to protect roofers from falls and other accidents:
- Employers must provide adequate fall protection for roofers that might include guardrails on the roof when necessary.
- Workers must receive adequate training to work as a roofer.
- Roofers must be working a minimum distance from the edge of the roof when there are no guardrails.
- Holes in the roof must be protected and covered when they are more than six feet above the ground.
How Much is Chicago Roofing Accident Injury Case Worth?
Many factors contribute to the value of your roofing injury case, like medical bills, workers' compensation benefits, lost income, pain, and disability. The cases below will hopefully give you some insight into how juries value these cases, construction accident lawyers, and insurance companies.
While these cases can be instructive, they should not be conclusive in valuing your situation.
Settlement for $5.625 million (2018) - A roofer cutting holes into the roof to install a skylight was not properly tied off when cutting through the first hole. As a result, he fell forty feet from the roof, suffering multiple fractures and traumatic brain injury.
The lawsuit claimed that the man's supervisor should have made the plaintiff comply with safety rules before cutting holes on the roof. The defendant had argued that the plaintiff had twenty years of roofing experience and should have known how to follow safety rules independently.
Jury Verdict for $8,625,128 (2018) - A roofer climbed a twenty-five-foot ladder extended seven feet above a balcony just below a high voltage power line. The ladder shifted, and he grabbed the metal to keep from falling, suffering a severe electrocution injury.
As a result, the action caused full paralysis in his non-dominant hand and partial paralysis of his left leg, along with traumatic brain injury. The plaintiff filed a product liability lawsuit against Home Depot and a lawsuit against his employer for workplace safety claims.
Settlement for $2.5 million (2018) - The roofer working on a team tasked with removing a roof fell through an unguarded skylight on the roof. In the fall, he suffered a skull fracture as well as other injuries.
The lawsuit claimed that the general contractor was negligent since they failed to secure the holes in the roof before the roofers began the job. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff was negligent but eventually settled the case in mediation before trial.
Settlement for $1.01 million (2017) - A roofer fell off the roof, claiming that he tripped over a loose nail sticking up, causing him to lose balance and fall. The nail had been in place to help with plywood being installed onto the roof, but the general contractor allegedly forgot to remove this nail when that part of the job was complete.
The plaintiff suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury in the fall. The lawsuit settled for the insurance policy maximum limit.
Plaintiff Verdict for $2.5 million (2016) - A victim gaining access to a roof using an inside roof latch fell 10 feet off a ladder and landed on a metal pole in a straddle position. In the fall, he suffered numerous fractures and permanent damage to his penis, including erectile dysfunction.
The lawsuit claimed that the roof access did not have safety railings and obstructed axis to the roof. The lawsuit further claimed that the defendant did not identify the dangerous condition nor warn the plaintiff about it before ascending the roof.
The verdict was slightly reduced by the judge to account for the plaintiff's share of the liability.
Plaintiff Verdict for $7,355,400 (2016) - A roofing contractor fell three stories off the roof at a property managed by the defendant. In the fall, he suffered brain and other cognitive injuries and leg injuries that required amputation.
The personal injury lawsuit claimed that the defendant failed to maintain and inspect the roof and did not provide adequate fall protection. The plaintiff claimed that they should have received a safety harness and that there should have been guardrails on the edge of the roof.
Settlement for $500,000 (2014) - The victim was ordered to fix a porch roof, but there were no ladders because the general contractor refused to permit them on the worksite. The plaintiff had to climb a scaffold to reach the porch roof and then crawl across the roof.
The porch roof collapsed under the victim, causing him to fall and suffer work injuries to his leg and hip. The victim (plaintiff) needed surgery to repair a shattered pelvis and will likely require a total hip replacement in the future due to his injuries.
Lawyers based the settlement, in part, on future medical care and past medical bills.
Settlement for $455,000 (2014) - The victim in the wrongful death claim worked as a roofer when he fell thirty feet to his death from the roof. At the time of the accident, the decedent was working without a safety harness.
The lawsuit claimed that the general contractor ignored providing a safe environment and fall protection equipment.
Plaintiff Verdict for $468,000 (2013) - The plaintiff had pushed a ladder against the side of a house and climbed up and down the ladder numerous times each day for an extended period. The ladder had extended above the roofline by several feet, allowing the plaintiff to climb and ascend quickly.
The personal injury case claimed that someone moved the ladder without telling the plaintiff, changing its position and stability. When the plaintiff attempted to climb down the ladder, he fell two stories to the ground and suffered wrist injuries that kept him in the hospital for five days and required surgery.
Settlement for $2.5 million (2013) - The victim worked at a luxury home construction when he fell from the roof to the ground. He suffered a skull fracture and injuries to his clavicle and scapula.
The victim (plaintiff) had allegedly slipped on a bundle of shingles delivered and placed on the roof. His injuries were claimed to be permanent, although he could return to work, albeit in a limited fashion.
The lawsuit alleged that the defendant failed to provide adequate fall protection for workers on the roof.
Settlement for $5.3 million (2011) - The roofer was installing fire-retardant paper on a construction site's roof when he tripped and fell fifteen feet from the roof to the ground below. He suffered severe injuries, including quadriplegia.
The victim (plaintiff) admitted that he stepped backward when he fell off the roof onto a small depression in the roof deck. His action caused his feet to get stuck, and he stumbled as a result.
The lawsuit claimed that the rough carpentry work caused the roof surface depression while the job was in progress.
Plaintiff Verdict for $3 million (2011) - A crew installing rubber roofing on a building cut small holes into the roofing material for drainage. The building superintendent got up onto the roof to retrieve a broom and stepped into one of the drainage holes, causing him to fall.
The victim (plaintiff) suffered severe injuries to his legs and knees, which included a broken ankle, leaving him unable to work in his job in the future. The personal injury claim alleged that the drainage holes should have been marked off and protected.
Plaintiff Verdict for $16,594,198 (2010) - The victim working on a construction project, tearing off sections of a roof, fell twenty feet to the ground. His workplace injuries included paralysis and permanent brain injuries, requiring a lifetime of continuous care.
The victim's (plaintiff's) construction accident attorney claimed that there was rusted metal on the roof that caused the plaintiff to fall. The attorney alleges that the defendant should have known about and informed the workers of its existence.
The court did not accept the defendant's argument in this premises liability case that the corroded metal was not readily apparent to anyone, finding for the plaintiff for more than $16.5 million.
Settlement for $1 million (2010) - A victim walked backward while putting taped down and stepping backward onto a balcony cutout, causing him to lose his balance and fall seven stories to the ground. The victim died on impact.
The wrongful death lawsuit claimed that the defendant should have provided adequate fall protection to those working on the site but did not. The defendant had numerous other safety citations previously, including another fall by an employee.
The lawsuit settled for the insurance policy maximum of $1 million.
Settlement for $8.2 million (2010) - An undocumented alien working off the books for a roofer fell through an unsecured stairwell hole. The plaintiff had lifted a sheet of plywood around the staircase and lost his balance, causing him to fall through the stairwell.
The victim suffered a thoracic fracture suffered paraplegia in the fall. The injured worker contended that his injuries kept him from returning to his home contrary, as was his previous intent due to his need to receive medical care that could not be provided in his home country.
Get Legal Help now From a Competent Chicago Roof Fall Accident Attorney
Our personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can discuss the facts of your case with you and examine the merits of your case for financial compensation. The consultation costs you nothing, and you do not owe us anything unless we help you recover for your injuries.
Contact our construction worker injury lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All discussions with our law firm remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.
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