Construction Sites Are Often the Site of Catastrophic Personal Injury
Whether you are a construction worker, pedestrian or driver traveling near a construction site, you expect the site to be operated and maintained in such manner as to prevent injury or death. This is a primary responsibility. Unfortunately, construction site accidents occur, resulting in serious injuries and in some cases, death. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics identified 175 fatal work injuries in the state of Pennsylvania in 2014, with a significant portion correlating with contact with objects and equipment. Sadly, a large number of these accidents and injuries could have been prevented.
If you are dealing with the consequences of a catastrophic construction site accident, such as the loss of a loved one, medical bills, wage loss, or the pain and suffering that often follow, Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., can help. We’ve helped clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey obtain financial compensation for claims related to their injuries, the wrongful death of a loved one, as well as negotiations with construction, equipment, and insurance companies that can contribute additional stress to an already difficult, or even tragic, situation.
There are many ways possible to become injured
Building and construction require skilled workers who must undertake operations that require training, caution, a dedicated safety effort and general awareness of one’s surrounding without becoming distracted. Power tools, machinery and vehicles, falls, structure collapse, electrical shock, the carelessness of another worker—and more—may injure workers. Construction is a difficult task that is not without risk. This simple fact mandates that every precaution and protection be put in place to protect workers on the job.
Heavy equipment carries a heavy responsibility
Construction site operators and equipment manufacturers owe a duty of care to both construction site workers and other individuals who encounter the site. This duty is a legal responsibility. Construction sites are required to contain adequate signage warning individuals of the dangers posed, and the site itself must comply with stringent safety standards.
For the safety of construction site workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposes additional requirements with regard to workplace hazards, proper employee training in the use of safety equipment, and education regarding health and safety standards. Violation of either the general legal duty of care, or OSHA standards, is a basis for holding a construction site operator or equipment manufacturer liable for a construction site accident that results in a serious injury or fatality.
Time is of the essence
Pennsylvania and New Jersey, like other states, allow you to bring an action to recover damages from negligence that results in death or injury to a person or their property (e.g. your vehicle). However, there is a time limit. It is critical to note that you must bring your legal claim within two years of the incident in question. You must act quickly in working with your attorney to address any injuries and compensation due if you intend to bring a claim.
Severe Injuries and wrongful death
Construction site accidents can wreak catastrophic damage, such as brain and spinal cord injuries, and in some tragic instances, wrongful death. Such tragedies, especially the loss of a loved one, are life altering in the worst way, leaving you to deal with ongoing medical issues and expenses, rehabilitation needs, or the loss of someone who was central to the health and harmony of your family.
Three Important Victories for Severely Injured Workers
Unfortunately, construction accidents happen frequently, and the results can be tragic. Experienced attorneys can help victims and their families recover an award that may very well be their only source of income for the future. The following three cases provide examples of the importance of obtaining qualified legal representation.
Parking Garage Collapse
Stewart J. Eisenberg and Daniel J. Sherry Jr. of Eisenberg Rothweiler Winkler Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., represented individuals who were catastrophically injured when an under-construction parking garage collapsed beneath their feet, killing five people and seriously injuring another 30. Construction did not include the necessary steel required to connect the floors to the walls.
After four years of litigation and preparation, a settlement totaling $101 million was reached between the victims and the defendants, which is believed to be the largest construction accident settlement in U.S. history. As part of the settlement, the defendants must pay the clients’ future medical expenses, as well as their entire workers compensation liens.
Lineman Accidentally Electrocuted
A journeyman lineman was replacing overhead electrical lines for the railroad. It was his first job working above the train tracks. On the evening of the accident, he and his fellow workers thought that the overhead lines were already de-energized. The lineman went up in his work bucket and received 12,000 volts to his entire body. He sustained multiple injuries including the amputation of both arms at the shoulder and the left leg above the knee when he came in contact with catenary wires energized at 11,000 volts.
The defense argued, but the evidence presented for the plaintiff was compelling. The case settled on the first day of trial in the amount of $5,015,000.
Young Man Falls Through Roof Opening
A 23-year-old man was working as a roofer’s helper for a construction company that was renovating an office building. The existing roof had become rusted and rotted and needed to be replaced with a new metal overlay. Holes had been unnecessarily cut into the roof for the return and supply ducts, and only one side of the hole opening was supported. The young man was carrying a new sheet of metal for the roof when the unsupported decking bent like a trap door under his weight. He struggled to save himself, but plunged through the roof opening to the concrete floor 25 feet below. He wasn’t wearing fall protection equipment at the time of the accident. After being rushed by emergency personnel to a local hospital, physicians determined that the young man’s catastrophic injuries were irreversible. His parents were faced with the decision no parent should ever have to make—removing a child from life support.
After investigation by OSHA, two contractors were cited for “serious” violations, including failing to determine if the walking/working surface of the roof would support workers safely and failing to equip workers with appropriate fall protection equipment.
Attorneys for the young man established a strong case, arguing that the companies working on the roof renovation project knew that the roof was dangerous and that work should have been halted until a structural engineer assessed the integrity of the roof. The companies also did not warn or stop the workers from going up onto the roof on the day of the accident. Had proper fall protection been provided to workers, the 23-year-old man would still be alive today.
Despite a vigorous defense mounted, a settlement was reached with all of the defendants after jury selection in Philadelphia.
As demonstrated by the three construction accident examples, complex, catastrophic injury cases require the help of an experienced attorney. For more than 35 years, Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., have been helping victims in the greater Philadelphia and New Jersey regions recover compensation for their injuries and loss. Contact us today for a free consultation at one of our offices in Philadelphia or Cherry Hill and let us start helping you.