Each year in the U.S. scaffolding accidents are responsible for about 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths.
Scaffolding Accident Lawyer
Scaffolds are erected to enable construction and other workers to reach high sections of a building. They are temporary platforms, used by millions of construction workers, which are unfortunately responsible for thousands of injuries each year. About 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths are related to scaffolding accidents every year.
Even though scaffolding safety is addressed by federal and state regulations, accidents are a frequent occurrence which may have been preventable. People or loved ones of those who have been injured in a scaffolding accident may be eligible for compensation through a construction injury lawyer.
Common Causes of Scaffolding Accidents
- Scaffolding collapse due to weak, loose, or rusted joints, instability or overloading
- Falls due to lack of safety fall protection
- Electrocution due to scaffolding placed too close to electric lines
- Unsecured objects which fall and strike someone
In Case of Scaffolding Accident
If a scaffolding accident occurs, quick, calm action is needed.
Check for injuries – Injuries from scaffolding accidents can be serious or even deadly. Check for injuries on anyone involved. If anyone has been critically injured or is in need of medical attention, call 911 for emergency services. To avoid further injury, do not move victims unless they are in additional danger from falling objects or other threats.
Seek medical attention – Even if the injury has not been critical, anyone involved in a scaffolding accident should get checked out by a healthcare professional. Internal injuries, even brain injuries can be delayed or hidden but will be detected with a thorough medical exam. This will also help to begin documentation for future worker’s compensation or other scaffolding accident claims that are filed.
Evaluate safety – The scaffolding must be inspected for safety, even if it did not collapse. It must be brought to legal standards before it can be used again. If the area is dangerous or inspection will be prolonged, close off the location until repairs are made and cleared by a supervisor or safety inspector.
Report accident – Even if no injury occurred, an official incident must be filed. This should be done as soon as possible after the event so that details are not forgotten. An accurate incident or injury report can help speed the worker’s compensation claims or any personal injury lawsuits that may be filed.
Find a law firm – If an injury has occurred, workers should seek legal assistance from a scaffolding accident lawyer before signing any papers or accepting compensation payments. Workers should not allow themselves to be pressured into quick action with an employer or insurance company but should have their case evaluated by an attorney.
OSHA Scaffolding Safety
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a division of the Department of Labor, enforces regulations which help to ensure worker safety in industrial settings. OSHA has developed a checklist of scaffolding safety requirements to protect construction and other workers who use scaffolding. The safety checklist includes important points such as:
- Scaffolds must be designed to support their own weight plus 4X the maximum intended load
- Scaffolding must be adequately equipped with toprails, midrails and cross bracing
- Scaffold footing must not be made from unstable objects such as barrels, loose bricks, concrete blocks or barrels
- Planks must be adequate to the job and must be constructed of the appropriate grade of material
- Scaffolding must include toeboards to eliminate the chance for accidentally kicking loose object over the edge
- Scaffolds must be at least 10 feet from electric power lines
- Scaffolds must be constructed and inspected by trained “competent” personnel
- All employees who use scaffolding must undergo safety training
OSHA’s scaffolding safety requirements publication which includes all of the scaffolding requirements and can be found at A Guide to Scaffold Use in the Construction Industry
In many cases, a person who has been injured in a scaffolding accident will be eligible for worker’s compensation. In addition, victims of a scaffolding injury or loved ones of those who died after a scaffolding accident may also be eligible for additional compensation. Possibilities for lawsuits and claims include:
- Personal Injury Lawsuit – filed by someone who has been injured in a scaffolding accident
- Wrongful Death Lawsuit – filed by loved ones of someone who died due to injuries caused by a scaffolding accident
People who may be eligible for compensation through a scaffolding accident lawsuit should not be pressured to sign any documents or waivers and should not accept a settlement before consulting with an attorney. Victims should seek advice from a lawyer immediately to exercise their legal rights.
Who is at Fault?
Determining liability may vary from state to state but in most cases, worker safety is a responsibility of the employer or contracting agency. Supervisors and managers hired by the company are responsible for ensuring that standards are met, that adequate and proper materials were used and for inspections to ensure worker safety.
A consultation with a lawyer who is experienced in construction accident litigation will help determine the liability in each case.
Though laws are different in each state, Worker’s Compensation is designed to benefit the employee and employer in case of a workplace accident. Worker’s comp provides coverage for medical expenses and may provide a portion of the injured worker’s salary. Employers benefit from the protection it provides for “no-fault” insurance. Though some people may believe that the use of workers comp benefits will prevent future compensation claims, that may not be true in all cases.
In addition, the worker’s compensation may be denied or may be insufficient to cover income, expenses or other damages. Workers comp may be denied for reasons which include:
- A claim is not reported by an employer
- A claim is not filed on time
- Employer disputes claim
- Worker declines medical treatment
Anyone who has been denied worker’s compensation after being injured in a scaffolding accident injury should discuss their case with an attorney. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help fight for worker’s compensations or may suggest other solutions including a lawsuit against an employer.
When Receiving Worker’s Compensation
All income received must be properly reported while receiving worker’s compensation. Those on worker’s compensation are not allowed to work or find a new job. People who had second jobs should report income from both jobs and may be eligible for wage compensation from both jobs. Failure to disclose income, working while receiving compensation or other violations may be considered fraud and may result in criminal or civil penalties. Worker’s compensation issues can be discussed with a personal injury attorney.
Returning to Work on “Light Duty”
After an injury, a doctor may release a patient to return to work on “light duty”. This means that the employee is well enough to perform certain duties like clerical work. The doctor will specify limits on physical activity such as the amount of weight that can be lifted, staying off feet, and other conditions. If possible, an employer must allow workers to perform light duty. If light duty pays less than a previous position or if light duty is not available, disability wages may cover a portion of the difference.
Declining light duty work will have a negative effect on future worker benefits. In some cases, it may result in the loss of these benefits – both employment compensation and medical coverage. People who have been injured by scaffolding accident and are having difficulties with worker’s compensation or other insurance programs should seek legal advice.
Reporting Scaffolding Violations
Workers who witness OSHA standards violations including unsafe scaffolding or accident may report violations by:
- Calling OSHA at 800.321.6742
- Contact a local OSHA office listed on the OSHA website by phone
- Fill out an OSHA eComplaint Form and follow instructions