Construction Accidents in Central Pennsylvania
ATTORNEYS REPRESENTING CLIENTS IN LANCASTER & YORK
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of February 2016, 228,000 Pennsylvanians worked in construction. These employees do a tough job. With long hours and dangerous working conditions, it’s not uncommon for a worker to be hurt or killed on the job.
In 2014, 175 Pennsylvanians died from fatal work injuries. The construction sector saw more of these fatalities than any other industry with a total of 40 deaths, an increase from 26 in 2013. As in most industries, accidents happen. All it takes is a collapsing structure or failing machinery to catastrophically injure a worker.
Almost every employee is covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act. This law provides benefits to full-time, part-time, and seasonal workers if they are injured at work. Unfortunately, receiving workers’ compensation benefits isn’t always a given. There are situations where a lawsuit is required to get the worker the benefits and compensation they deserve.
The workers compensation attorneys at Hagelgans & Veronis have years of experience representing injured construction workers. If you or a loved one have suffered an injury working on a construction site, contact us to set up a free consultation. We’ll evaluate your case, help you navigate worker’s compensation, and determine if a lawsuit is necessary to seek the damages you’re entitled to.
Construction Accident Liability and Potential Lawsuits
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, lists the obligations that employers owe to their employees. Under the OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) Act, every employer in the United States has a duty to:
- Comply with all OSHA rules and regulations
- Provide a workplace that is free of recognized hazards
- Ensure employees have access to safe tools and properly maintained equipment
- Use color coded posters and signs to label hazardous materials
- Communicate established and updated operating procedures to employees
- Provide safety training
- Develop and implement a hazard communication program
- Display the OSHA safety and health standards posters prominently
- Offer medical examinations and training when required
- Keep records of fatalities and injuries and report them to OSHA
- Provide access to medical records, exposure records, and a log of work-related injuries and illnesses
- Post citations of violations and correct them by the OSHA deadline
If any of these rights are violated, employees may report the problem to OSHA without fear of discrimination or termination. If an injury or illness occurs, due either to an OSHA rights violation or a work-place accident, there are several situations in which you may be able to file a lawsuit:
- Workers’ Compensation: Generally, when an employer provides workers’ compensation benefits to an injured employee, that worker isn’t able to file a lawsuit. However, if your employer refuses to pay benefits or unjustly terminates them, you may be able to take the case to court.
- Personal Injury: If you can prove that your injury was the direct result of a third party’s negligence, a lawsuit may be filed.
- Product Liability: If an injury was a result of using a faulty product or a machine malfunction, you may be able to seek damages from the retailer, wholesaler, or manufacturer.
- Wrongful Death. If a worker is killed, their family may sue on the grounds of wrongful death and may receive compensation for loss of life, medical bills, and funeral expenses.
Liable parties may include:
- The construction site owner
- General contractors, prime contractors, or sub-contractors
- Manufacturers of machinery, equipment, or tools
Common Construction Accidents and Injuries
A variety of accidents can happen when working on a construction site. Some of the most common accidents we see are:
- Falls, either on the same level or to a lower level
- Falling objects, such as tools or materials
- Failing equipment, like a malfunctioning power tool or piece of machinery
- Crushing accidents where a worker is run over or trapped between two objects
- Fires/explosions caused by hazardous materials or volatile chemicals
- Collapses, including building and trench collapses
- Repetitive motion/overexertion, as is the case with heat stroke or heat exhaustion
- Eye injuries from falling objects or exposure to UV rays or chemicals
These accidents can inflict a variety of injuries and illnesses. Injuries often associated with these accidents can include:
- Respiratory diseases (black lung, asbestosis, silicosis, etc.)
- Broken bones
- Bruising and lacerations
- Puncture wounds, internal bleeding, and organ damage
- Complications of asphyxiation
- Frost bite or heatstroke
- Vision impairments, total blindness, or the loss of an eye
- Bone, ligament, and disc injuries
- Scarring, burns, or amputations
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck and back injuries
Workers’ Comp Benefits
If you are injured on the job and your employer carries workers’ compensation benefits, you’re covered by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Depending on your injury or illness, benefits you may be able to receive include:
Lost wages: If your injury is labeled as permanently disabling, you will be awarded wage-loss benefits. You can also receive those benefits if you are partially disabled and can work, but would be making less than your pre-injury earnings.
Death benefits: If a worker is killed, their surviving spouse and dependents may be entitled to benefits.
Specific loss benefits: You may be eligible for these benefits if you lose all or part of an extremity, such as your finger, hand, leg, arm, foot, or toe, or if you suffer permanent disfigurement, loss of sight, or hearing loss.
Medical care: These benefits may include financial assistance for medicine, supplies, hospital and doctor’s bills, and orthopedic appliances or prosthetics.
You may also be able to seek damages to help pay for:
- Counseling costs
- Physical therapy/vocational rehab
- Property damage
- Ongoing living expenses (mortgage, rent, bills, groceries, etc.)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium (physical pain, emotional distress, etc.) for widows or widowers
- Emotional Trauma
What to Do if You’re Injured
If you work in construction, it’s important to have a plan in the event that you’re injured. Remembering the following steps can help you get the benefits you deserve. They can also help your chances of filing a successful lawsuit if it comes to that.
- Report your injury to your employer in writing and keep a copy for your own records.
- See a doctor or go the emergency room immediately.
- Complete a claim form. If you do not complete a claim form your employer has no obligation to provide benefits.
- File the claim ASAP.
- Gather contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident.
- Collect evidence, such as photos of the accident scene and your injuries. You should also keep the tool or item that injured you, if applicable.
Seeking Attorney Assistance
As an employee, you have guaranteed rights under the OSH Act. These include the right to request an inspection of your workplace, the right to have your name withheld from your employer when filing a written complaint, and the right to be free of any discriminatory actions based on your complaints.
Depending on the circumstances leading up to your injury, you may be able to hold a third party or another individual liable for an accident.
If you’ve been injured or any of your rights as an employee have been violated, get in touch with the construction accident attorneys at Hagelgans & Veronis. Our practice’s sole focus is on helping the victims of personal injuries. Make an appointment by calling us today at 1-877-454-8529.