Construction sites are notoriously hazardous places to work.
Falls are one of the most common types of accidents that occur on these sites.
Falling from any height can be dangerous, resulting in severe injuries or even death.
Some workers don’t realize they have legal rights in construction site fall accidents.
It’s important to understand your rights. Otherwise, you risk losing out on the compensation you’re owed.
Speak with an experienced New Mexico construction site accident lawyer at Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C. to learn how we can assist.
Types of Construction Fall Accidents
There are many different types of construction fall accidents that can occur on a construction site. Read on to learn more about some of the most common types of construction site fall accidents in New Mexico.
Falls from Ladders
Construction sites all use ladders. Falls from ladders commonly cause severe worksite injuries. To prevent ladder falls, workers must verify the ladder is in good condition and stabilize it before climbing.
Even falls that are from less than one story high can result in traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.
Scaffolding is also used frequently at construction sites. Falls from scaffolding often happen when planking or support gives way or when the scaffold collapses.
Sometimes, a falling object might strike a worker knocking them off balance and causing them to fall off, or a worker might slip or trip and fall off because there’s no fall protection in place.
Falls from Roofs or Higher Floors
Unfortunately, falls from multi-story buildings and roofs are also common at construction sites. Workers should use fall protection equipment and safety harnesses to reduce the overall risk.
Unguarded edges are dangerous, especially on an unfinished roof. Workers might fall through the portion under construction or an unfinished section, such as a skylight.
Slip and Falls or Trip and Falls
Construction sites are full of numerous hazards, some of which might cause workers to slip or trip on something. Workers can trip over tools, materials, and other equipment present at the construction site.
Falling objects or equipment can strike a worker, knocking them down. Someone working on a ladder or scaffolding who gets struck by something might be knocked off balance, resulting in additional injuries caused by their fall.
Workers might be carrying equipment up or down stairs and lose their balance, causing them to fall. They might suffer a serious fall if they become unsteady on their feet and fall backward, especially if there is no handrail.
Falls involving stairs are common in finished buildings, so it’s no surprise that workers get injured on stairs at construction sites. Staircases that lack proper lighting or have obstacles present an increased risk.
Elevator Shaft Falls
Buildings with elevators present another significant hazard. A lack of situational awareness or unprotected openings are two of the primary causes of elevator shaft falls.
Sadly, falls involving elevator shafts often result in catastrophic injuries, especially if workers don’t wear proper safety equipment.
Excavation and Trench Falls
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, trench collapses, or cave-ins, pose a significant risk to workers’ lives. Employers must ensure workers have a safe entry into and exit from a trench. Trench walls should have the following:
- Slope or bench walls,
- Support shores, or
- Trench boxes to shield the walls.
Workers also need to ensure a trench has been adequately inspected before entering.
Do You Have a Workers’ Compensation or Personal Injury Case?
On-the-job injuries at a construction site might fall under workers’ compensation, personal injury, or both. Companies in New Mexico must provide workers’ compensation coverage for all their employees.
Workers’ compensation will cover medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages. It is no-fault coverage which means you don’t have to prove your employer was negligent to collect benefits.
However, you won’t be entitled to any general damages in a workers’ compensation claim, such as pain and suffering.
Recovery through a personal injury claim might be possible in some construction accidents. When a third party, such as the equipment manufacturer, is responsible for your injury, you might have a third-party liability claim.
There are instances where your employer might also be liable, such as accidents involving intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
Personal injury claims require you to prove that the other party was at fault for your injuries and is liable for your damages.
A personal injury claim would allow you to seek additional compensation not available through workers’ compensation, such as your pain and suffering and emotional trauma.
Who’s Liable for a Construction Worker Injured in Worksite Fall?
Who’s liable for a construction worker injured in a worksite fall? If you’re pursuing a personal injury claim for a construction-site fall, you must prove the defendant is responsible for your injuries.
Determining liability for a worksite fall will depend on the circumstances of the accident. Liability in a construction site accident can be a complex legal issue to resolve because multiple parties are usually involved.
Potentially liable parties can include:
- Construction site owner—the landowner could be liable depending on how much control they have over the construction site;
- General and sub-contractors—contractors must ensure the safety of their workers, and they must warn workers of any defects or hazardous conditions at a worksite;
- Engineers and architects—if the hazard stems from the project design, an engineer or architect might be liable; and
- Manufacturers—if a worker suffered injuries due to defective equipment or machinery, the manufacturer could also be liable.
Because identifying all of the parties liable for your injury can be very complex, it’s important to hire an experienced lawyer to represent you.
A lawyer will be able to conduct an independent investigation of your accident, gather evidence, identify all of the parties that might be at fault, calculate all of your damages, and advocate for your best interest during settlement negotiations and, if need be, at trial.
Hire a New Mexico Lawyer with Experience Handling Construction Worker Falls
Construction site fall accidents can be physically and financially devastating. But an experienced lawyer can help you fight for the compensation you need and deserve.
The work injury attorneys at Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C. have years of experience helping clients pursue New Mexico workers’ compensation benefits and personal injury damages for construction accidents.
We’re passionate about helping injured workers get their lives back on track after a construction site accident. If you or someone you love sustained severe injuries in a fall at a construction site, the legal team at Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C. is here to help.
Contact us today to schedule a free case review so that you can learn more about your legal options.