Being a victim of a construction site accident could be a frustrating experience since the insurance company will be doing their best to avoid compensating you what you deserve. Your best option would be to seek representation from an experienced attorney to help file your personal injury claim. Clay County Personal Injury Attorney is here to facilitate financial recovery to our clients across Clay County, Florida. We have a team of dedicated attorneys to make sure all construction accident related cases make it successfully through trial. Also, with thousands of cases completed successfully by our attorneys, we know how to handle your case from the initial consultation to the recovery stage.
Construction Accident Statistics
According to a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 1,100 construction employees die annually due to construction accidents. This means that about 20% of all occupation-linked deaths across the country take place in the building industry.
Unfortunately, the safety standards have been worsening in the building industry and the number of injuries has gone up. In Florida alone, more than three hundred people die in work-related accidents annually, with building industry leading in these deaths.
While some accidents may be moderate, many are fatal. This is because they cause catastrophic consequences to the victims.
If you are a victim in a construction accident, you can bring a personal injury claim against the person accountable for that accident. Then the responsible person compensates you for the damages.
Who is Held Accountable for Construction Accidents?
Liability for the accident depends mainly on the involved party and the kind of construction accident. The party held liable for the accident could be the owner of the property, a construction employee, the construction company, equipment manufacturer, engineer, architect, government agency, or a contractor.
Personal injury lawsuits in a construction accident could be established on the following grounds:
Most personal injury lawsuits are founded on negligence. If you can prove that the respondent was careless in causing the accident, then the respondent becomes responsible for your damages. To prove negligence, you must show that:
- He/she owed you the duty of care
- The respondent broke that duty of care by being negligent
- The negligence was the root cause of the injury or death
- Premises liability
The owner of a property can also be held accountable should an accident happen. Both property occupiers and owners owe other people a duty of care to ensure that the property is safe from hazardous conditions. This duty of care owed is based on visitors to the building.
Under premises liability lawsuit, you must present evidence that:
- They owned, controlled or occupied the property
- They did not maintain or were careless in the use of the property
- You were hurt
- Their negligence was the root cause of your injury
Moreover, contractors should put barriers or warn the public of the risky construction conditions. Sometimes, the contractors should do more and make these construction conditions safe. In short, a general contractor should take safety measures that any reasonable contractor would take in a similar state of affairs. Also, the contractor should adhere to workplace safety guidelines stipulated by the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA).
- Vicarious Liability of a Construction Worker
A construction accident can also be initiated by a careless construction worker. In such cases, the worker is held responsible for their actions.
Nevertheless, under Florida respondeat superior law, the employer can be held legally responsible for the worker's negligence. The employer is answerable not because they are at fault or have control over their employees. It is simply because the likelihood of the worker causing the accident is an unavoidable risk of their employer's business.
- Product Defects
Sometimes, construction site accidents are due to defective or faulty products. According to Florida product liability law, anyone who sells, designs or manufactures a faulty product is held liable should the product cause an accident. The seller, manufacturer or designer is answerable even if the victim or construction company wasn't negligent. Product defect liability claims revolve around design defects, manufacturing defects, and insufficient warning defects.
What are the Damages in a Construction Accident Claim?
Normally, damages awarded to compensate you for any losses and costs incurred after the accident are in monetary terms. It comprises of compensatory damages that fall into two main categories:
- Economic Damages
Economic damages are those damages you can attach with a dollar amount. They are meant to compensate for the money you have already spent or will spend in the future. They include property damages, medical bills, lost wages, and lost earning capacity.
- Non-economic Damages
Non-economic damages are damages that do not necessarily involve spending money. They are more subjective losses like pain, suffering, physical impairment, emotional distress, disfigurement, loss of joy, and inconvenience.
You can also be awarded punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not meant to compensate you for your losses. Instead, they serve as punishment to the responsible party for intentional or careless actions. They also serve as an example to discourage people from acting in a similar way in the future. A plaintiff should prove beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent acted with fraud, oppression, intent to cause harm, extreme carelessness or malice.
There are no damage caps on both compensatory and punitive damages in personal injury lawsuits in Florida. The court can award the plaintiff any sum that it deems reasonable and fair.
Understanding Workers' Compensation
If an employee gets injured while working on a construction site, their injuries will be covered by workers' compensation. But depending on the liable party and who the victim is, the victim can bring a personal injury claim.
Workers' compensation normally limits an employee's legal rights. If you have been injured in your workplace, you have probably been told you are not supposed to expose your employer's negligence. Therefore, you will not be in a position to bring a claim against your employer.
But you will be able to file a workers' compensation claim. A workers' compensation lawsuit will compensate you for wage replacement and medical bills. However, the money and benefits compensated are very low and do not compensate you for things such as suffering, emotional torture, and pain. That means you will have to deal with the insurance company or the employer denying your claim. Also, workers' compensation doesn't offer punitive damages to punish the employer for hazardous working conditions. That is why it is important to hire an experienced lawyer in Clay County. The attorney will help you understand your rights and bring another lawsuit other than workers' compensation cover.
Moreover, you might get more funds from government benefits like Social Security disability insurance (SSI or SSDI) if the harm stops you from working or is disabling.
So who is not insured by workers' compensation insurance in Florida?
Under the Workers' Compensation Act, people working in Florida should be insured by workers' compensation. That means all public and private employers in the state of Florida must offer workers' compensation benefits to their workers. This includes family members, full-time and part-time workers.
However, certain individuals are not included in the compulsory coverage. They include:
- Agents working in accredited real estate firms
- Agents working on commission terms
- Independent contractors
- Certain business professionals
- Repairmen who do not earn more than $2,000 in a year
- Federal workers who are insured under federal laws
If you fall under any of the above categories and you get injured on the job, you can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party.
What you Should Do after an On-the-Job Accident?
To ensure you get all the workers' compensation benefits, make sure you:
- Seek medical attention for your injury immediately
- Report the injury to your employer immediately. According to the law, you should report the injury/harm to your boss within thirty days of its occurrence
- For your treatment to be catered for, ensure you select a medical practitioner recommended by your boss
What your Employer Should Do After You Sustain a Construction Accident
According to the Florida Division of Workers' Compensation, the construction firm should look at the accident as soon as a worker is injured while working. All relevant information about what took place should be collected and shared with the insurer upon request.
The law calls for your boss to inform the insurance provider about your accident within seven days of notification notwithstanding how minor the injury would be. This should be done by filing the first report of injury with the insurance firm and the Division.
Although the company will report the injury, it doesn't necessarily imply that the company admits to the information that is reported. It is just a statement that you are making a claim. If your boss doubts whether the hurt is indeed work-related, it should be noted on the injury form.
Can Your Loved Ones Bring a Wrongful Death Case After a Construction Accident?
In the event that a construction accident leads to death, the deceased's family can bring a wrongful death suit. According to Florida Statute 768.19, the lawsuits allow family members to be compensated for wrongful death damages. They include the deceased's children, spouse, deceased's parents, grandchildren. If the deceased's children are already deceased, a blood relative or an adoptive sibling who depended on the deceased for monetary support could receive compensation.
To be awarded wrongful death damages, the court puts factors like the relationship between the decedent and the party, deceased's net income, and the value of services offered to the survivor into consideration.
Similar to a personal injury claim, anyone seeking compensation from the responsible party can use claims of property owner's liability, negligence or product defects liability.
The available damages for a wrongful death claim include funeral expenses, loss of support, loss of affection, the value of services the decedent would have offered, and loss of monetary support the deceased would have offered.
Whenever someone dies in Florida due to negligence or recklessness in a construction site, there are two types of claims that can be brought against the respondent. They include wrongful death and a survivor action.
Personal representatives of the deceased's estate can sue for damages that the deceased would have sued if they did not die.
It is worth noting that both survival actions and wrongful death are meant to compensate for the loss. However, survival action compensates the deceased's estate for losses incurred before they died. A wrong death claim, on the other hand, compensates the deceased's loved ones for losses incurred due to death.
A survival action should be brought by the deceased's personal representatives. In case the estate does not have a personal representative, the lawsuit can be brought by an interested deceased's successor. Mostly, the personal representative is a deceased's family member but it doesn't have to be. Estates can also be represented by a close personal friend of the decedent, an attorney, or an accountant.
Damages Recovered in a Survival Cause of Action
The recoverable damages are limited to monetary losses the deceased incurred due to the construction accident but before their death. That means a survival action lawsuit can't be brought if the decedent died on the spot. However, instantaneous death doesn't affect your right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Most economic damages include:
- Medical bills incurred due to the accident
- Lost earning capacity, if the deceased took a low-paying job due to the injuries
- Suffering and pain sustained before dying
- Wages the deceased lost between the accident and the date of their death
When granting damages under the survival cause of action law, the court considers factors like the seriousness of pain sustained by the deceased, the anxiety of approaching death, and the duration of suffering.
It is worth noting that you cannot recover punitive damage in a survival action lawsuit in Florida.
Unlike wrongful death claims, a survival action begins running at the time of the construction site accident. In certain cases, when the construction accident leads to immediate death, the time to file a wrongful death and a survival cause of action will be virtually the same. Again, a survival action is the only way to recover punitive damages for negligence-related death. It is, therefore, important to engage a qualified attorney who will review your case and ensure you bring the case within the right statute of limitation.
What are the Common Causes of Construction Injuries?
There are various and diverse causes of construction accidents. Some are obvious while others are not easy to tell. Knowing different types of injuries will assist you to avoid the injury in the future, identify any injuries you could be suffering from and look for the legal remedy. Below are common forms of construction injuries:
Construction employees are at high risk of falling from roofs, scaffolding, cranes, ladder, and other heights. A victim of fall can file either a personal injury or workers' compensation claim lawsuit against their employer or the liable person.
- Falling Objects
You are also at risk of being hit by objects falling from above. It could be equipment used by the employee or construction tools that are not well secured. You are likely to suffer from spinal or brain injury even if you are in appropriate safety gear like hardhats.
- Equipment-related Accidents
Sometimes heavy machinery used on construction areas can be dangerous when they fail. For instance, a nail gun may misfire or a dumpster could break down. If you sustained equipment-related injuries, you need to file a product liability lawsuit with the help of your attorney.
- Run-over and Crushed Between Accidents
Sometimes construction workers are run over by large trucks leaving construction sites or crushed between huge vehicle, concrete or walls. Typically this type of accidents is caused by a supervisor's carelessness in controlling the site.
- Explosions or Fires
Construction sites have dangerous conditions like exposed wiring, flammable chemicals, and leaking pipes that could cause fires or explosions. Although less common, these accidents are fatal and could result in severe injuries.
- Building or Trench Collapses
A trench that is being constructed can collapse on employees inside. A building that is under construction or being demolished can unpredictably collapse, seriously injuring or killing people who are inside. Even when the cause of the accident cannot be determined, a good lawyer can use res ipsa loquitur theory (the thing speaks for itself in Latin) to have you compensated without proving who was responsible.
As a result of physical labor required in the construction industry, employees often suffer from injuries related to overexertion like:
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Damage of joints and muscles
- Heat stress in high-temperature conditions that can result in kidney, heart, brain damage or even death
- Hypothermia leading to loss of parts of the face, toes, and fingers in the cold areas
Construction Accidents Frequently Asked Questions
Can you File a Claim Even If You were at Fault in the Construction Site Accident?
- Workers' Compensation Act
Under Florida law, the workers' compensation is a no-fault system. That means employees are eligible to workers' compensation benefits irrespective of whether they are at fault or not. Also, the law protects your employment from been terminated because you file a workers' compensation lawsuit.
- Florida Comparative Fault Law
Under Florida comparative fault law, a construction accident victim can still recover damages even when they are partially to blame for the accident. Also known as Florida's comparative negligence law, this law provides a way to divide the liability between the responsible parties.
Generally, responsibility is decided by the jury. Sometimes in a personal injury case, the perpetrator claims that the plaintiff's negligence caused their harm. For this claim to be successful, the respondent must prove the following:
- You were negligent and
- Your negligence was the main root cause of your harm
Consequently, your damages are reduced by the determination of the percentage of your responsibility.
When dividing fault among the responsible parties, the percentage should add up to 100 percent. The jury will, therefore, make a different finding of your total damages, if any. It will decide the damage amount without considering the amount it allocates you. Ultimately, every respondent will pay you an amount equivalent to the percentage of damage for which they are liable to your total damages.
How Much Time Do You Have to Notify the Liable Party that You are Filing a Lawsuit?
Unless you want to sue a government entity, there is no set time to notify the liable person of your intention to bring a lawsuit. Nevertheless, that does not mean you should take your time. Acting quickly increases the chances of solving the claim faster.
It is important to note that notifying the respondent doesn't mean you have to file the case. By issuing a notice, you prevent the other party from arguing that you took long to inform them of your injuries.
What are the Medical Conditions Caused by a Construction Accident?
Even with proper safety gear and training, construction workers still suffer from injuries in the workplace. These injuries lead to medical conditions like:
- Amputation of limbs, toes or fingers
- Fractures and broken bones
- Loss of hearing capability
- Brain or head injuries
- Loss of vision
Do You need an Attorney to be Compensated for Your Injury?
Construction accident cases could be complicated. Consequently, resolving these cases successfully requires the expertise of a personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will review all pertinent facts of the accident and then prove the validity of your lawsuit brought against the respondents.
Also, the lawyer will make sure all the essential documents and paperwork are filed within the appropriate time. Any delay in filing the case could prevent you from seeking compensation. Also, the law firm will offer valuable representation that entails:
- Providing advice and guidance throughout the trial process
- Answering all your questions
- Collecting all necessary evidence such as witness statements to assist you to prove your case
Seeking Legal Assistance Near Me
The Clay County Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm understands that getting around after been injured in a construction accident can be difficult. That is why you don't have to come to our offices to have your case evaluated. We are just a call away. Once you make the call, you will be asked to tell your side of the story. You can also ask any question you have regarding your accident. The attorney will then evaluate the harm, the accident, your options and then give you the initial thoughts. In an event that both you and the lawyer feel the case should be filed, the lawyer will schedule to meet you at your home or at any other location convenient to you. Rest assured, we are ready to stand with you through the entire process. Contact our personal injury lawyer today at 904-494-8242 to schedule your initial consultation.