Recent news reports have reported that a construction worker lost his life in late September when a column being used to build a residential high-rise building in downtown San Diego fell on him. The man was pronounced dead on the scene and the Southern California Division of Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA) is now investigating.
Unfortunately, construction accidents are not uncommon and in 2011, a construction worker died when the trench a man was working in collapsed and essentially buried him alive. According to OSHA, so far in 2016 almost 900 people have died in work related injuries throughout the United States. This number is down from nearly 5,000 fatalities reported in 2014 and before OSHA was created, estimated work related deaths totaled nearly 14,000.
The kinds of accidents that individuals become victim to include falls from high places, being crushed by heavy machinery or equipment, electrocution and car accidents. According to OSHA, construction workers are more likely to endure fatal accidents than those working in other industries and site the following as the most common types of accident:
- Being struck by an object
- Being caught in between something they cannot get out of
Not every construction worker is killed in an on-site accident and if you are injured by any of these situations or another type of incident, then you will not only face medical bills for the injury, but you probably will not be able to go back to work for a while or at all. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the complex task of construction site litigation if you or a loved one has been injured on the job.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration Sets Minimum Safety Standards
The United States Department of Labor (DOL) runs OSHA and their primary purpose is to ensure that workers have access to a safe work environment. In particular, OSHA understands the dangerous nature of construction labor and has promulgated several rules and regulations related specifically to this industry. These laws contemplate not only harm that may occur because of the use of heavy equipment but also harm caused by corrosive chemicals or fire.
Generally, however, the OSHA standards require that no laborer shall be required to work or perform in surroundings or working conditions that are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to his health or safety.
Employers have a responsibility to initiate and maintain any programs that further the purpose of workplace safety and in doing so the employer must provide frequent and regular inspections to the job site, the materials and the equipment utilized. Any issues deemed unsafe must be identified as such or removed from the property. Additionally, an employer has a duty to only hire those who are qualified for the labor required.
An employer who fails to abide by the OSHA mandates can face severe financial penalties and as recent as September of 2016, San Diego’s Urs West, Inc. faced fines just over $60,000 for violations.
OSHA Fines Do Not Help Those Injured in Construction Worker Accidents
If you are injured in a construction accident, you may feel that your employer should be penalized for failure to maintain the safe working conditions required by the federal government. Of course OSHA can impose fines on their end, but how does this help you? These fines do not make you whole again and they certainly do not bring back your quality of life or a loved one that you have lost.
While no one can bring back a lost loved one, a civil lawsuit against your employer for wrongful death can mitigate the financial harm you may be going through. As a family member relying in part or in whole on a lost loved one’s income, you absolutely need and have a right to recoup financial losses from the negligent employer. Similarly, if you can not work due to an injury, you are entitled to take your case to court.
Construction workers are often hired on a contract basis rather than an employee basis. This often means that construction workers cannot sue the company they are working for, but as with most things, there are exceptions. If an employer acted negligently or recklessly, then you could have a cause of action. Both negligence and recklessness are defined differently in a court of law and the elements of negligence are as follows:
- Cause in fact
Essentially, this means that where someone owes you a duty and their failure to execute that duty is the cause of your harm. In contrast, someone acts recklessly when a person knows or should have known that their actions were likely to cause harm to another.
While negligence and recklessness seem straight forward, sometimes it is difficult to tell if an employer acted in such a manner. Oftentimes, the other side will try to make you feel responsible for an accident to mitigate their level of fault. You should not buy these arguments and if you were injured in a construction work accident, you should contact an attorney right away.
Call a San Diego Construction Accident Attorney Today
In all claims for civil relief, there is a time period for which you may bring your case. If you wait too long, then your claim will be barred forever from court. San Diego’s personal injury attorneys at Injury Trial Lawyers, APC have over 35 years of experience bringing negligent or reckless employers to justice in construction site accidents.
We know that after an accident, the other party’s very experienced insurance provider will often try to negotiate with you and in those times, having an aggressive and understanding advocate on your side can mean the difference between what you deserve and what the insurance company is trying to pay just to make the problem going away. Please call our office today for an initial consultation at no extra cost for you. Let us see how we can help you through this difficult time.