Construction Industry Leads Way in Fatalities
Construction work can be very dangerous. Construction related job fatalities accounted for 20% (1 in 5) of all work related fatalities. In addition, construction related non-fatal work injuries account for 10% (1 in 10) of all workplace injuries.
Construction fatalities lead the way for all industries according the Center for Disease Control and Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Many Hazards on a Construction Site
There are countless hazards present on a construction work site that are not present in other work environments. These include heavy equipment, dangerous equipment, trenches, work vehicles, delivery vehicles, power lines, power equipment, and third party vendors and supplies.
In addition, there are often a vast variety of contractors and sub-contractors and their employees present and highly active within relatively constrained work environments. In short, construction sites provide the perfect environment for workplace injuries.
Construction Accidents Generally More Serious than Other Industries
In addition to the sheer numbers of construction related injuries, these injuries are generally far more serious than a typical work injury. This accounts for the high percentage of fatalities in construction accidents.
Construction leads the way in fatalities. It is also near the top for rate of fatalities behind only only agriculture and forestry, transportation and warehousing, and mining.
Results of Construction Accidents Often Catastrophic
In addition, the nature of the workforce and the seriousness of the injuries in these accidents often result in catastrophic damages to the injured person and his or her family.
Well over 90% of the fatalities involve men. Around 70% of these fatalities involve mean between the ages of 25 and 54. The physical injuries, medical expenses and pain and suffering can be enormous. The loss of income will often decimate the injured worker’s family in both the case of wrongful death and serious non-fatal accidents resulting in permanent injuries.
Worker’s Compensation Exclusivity v. Third Party Liability Claims
Workers compensation is frequently the only recourse for work related injuries, even in the case of death due to New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Act’s exclusive remedy provisions. Workers compensation is typically inadequate to fully compensate an injured worker for his or her damages in cases of serious injuries, and most certainly in the case of wrongful death.
Fortunately, the nature of the industry often provides opportunities for lawsuits against negligent third parties to fully recover for the worker’s injuries and damages. Because there are so many third parties present on a construction site such as contractors, subcontractors, and vendors along with their equipment and supplies, the injured worker’s injuries are often attributable to the negligence or defective products and supplies of these third parties.
Third Parties Not Shielded from Personal Injury Liability as are Employers
If there is a third party other than the employer that this responsible for the accident and the damages, that third party will be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit just as any other negligent person. These lawsuits run the gamut of possible claims including auto accidents, trucking accidents, products liability, negligence, and wrongful death to name only a few of the possible basis for a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries or wrongful death in a construction accident, it is important to determine the source and cause of the accident to determine the possible liability of third parties. If there is no third party liability, the worker will likely be limited to the strict recovery limits established by workers compensation statutes. This often makes a finding of third party liability essential for a full recovery for a worker’s injuries.
Construction Accident Claims Can be Complex – Seek Legal Guidance
As with many work related injuries, these claims can be complex. The first obstacle will be to overcome Worker’s Compensation exclusive remedy provisions. This can be done by identifying a third party who is liable other than the employer.
It is also possible in rare situations that the employer will waive the protection of the Workers’ Compensation Act. This is possible under the Delgado doctrine in extremely limited circumstances involving reckless or wanton behavior on the part of the employer.
In any event, it is important to seek legal guidance from an personal injury attorney experienced in work injuries ASAP after a work injury or wrongful death. It is important to make these determinations as quickly as possible to determine how best to proceed. Collins & Collins, P.C. will review your case to make that determination.