On a construction site, it’s the responsibility of the general contractor to provide a safe work environment for everyone on site. If you have been hurt, you want answers. You need to know why and how the accident occurred. You need to know that the same harm will not happen to a coworker. And you need to know that you can recover damages. Your damages may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even permanent disability. If you are injured on a construction site, a lawyer can work with you to conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the accident and what should be done next.
The construction industry is widely recognized as one of the most dangerous fields for employees. There are countless things that can go wrong, and innumerable ways for a worker to be injured or even killed on the job. Let’s take a look and how and why construction accidents occur, what happens when they do, and what legal options you have if you are injured on a construction site.
One of the first things we will do after taking your case is investigate liability. For those who are injured while working on a construction site, it is often the case that a specific individual or entity was responsible for the accident. If someone else was at fault, you, as the accident victim, may be entitled to seek compensation through a legal action against the at-fault party. Investigating liability is therefore an integral part of your case, and necessary in order to locate the truth of what happened to cause your injury. Construction projects are high-stakes ventures, and those controlling operations are often eager to cover any signs of negligence in order to avoid liability. To make sure our clients are given the justice they deserve, we investigate multiple parties to determine who was at fault, including:
- The general contractor
- The premises owner
- Third-party suppliers
- Manufacturers of machinery, tools, equipment, or safety gear
- Other contracted employees on site
- Engineers or architects involved in the project
It is our goal during the investigation to determine which party was negligent and responsible for creating the unsafe conditions which resulted in harm to you.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is a failure to take reasonable care to protect someone from harm under the given circumstances. For decades, our legal team at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm has helped accident victims hold negligent parties accountable for wrongful actions causing harm to others. When a party is negligent, that party fails to meet a standard of behavior which protects others from risk. Negligence could be a direct action or a failure to carry out an action which should have been done. Because construction sites involve many different groups and individuals engaging in varied activities under dangerous conditions, opportunities for negligence to occur are ubiquitous. When you are employed on a construction site, you are in a position in which your life and safety are dependent upon the actions of others. If someone does not honor that duty to mutually protect, they are guilty of negligence.
How Unsafe Conditions Occur
Often during the process of investigation we will discover that there are broad system failures by powerful corporations. Corporations far-removed from the on-the-ground environment of a construction site are notorious for putting profits over the well-being of employees. These system failures are particularly egregious in that they put the lives of hundreds of hardworking people in danger. This situation may be manifested by one of the following conditions:
- Understaffing which results in overworked employees
- Improperly trained employees
- Poor management and oversight
- Insufficient safety protocol
- Lack of proper safety gear
- Policies and procedures not implemented
- Lack of organization and poor relay of information
- Violation of federal or state rules and regulations
- Infrequency or absence of safety inspections
Within or outside of broad system failures, there may be more specific instances of negligence which occur and result in an accident. These more localized examples of negligence can cause harm to one or more individuals working on a construction site. As we conduct thorough investigations into the causes and results of a workplace accident, we often find that specific, limited acts of negligence would not have been able to arise in the first place if the overseeing corporation had not fostered the conditions for these actions. Negligence can come in the form of:
- Unsafe vehicle operation
- Equipment failure or mechanical malfunction
- Reckless or careless employee behavior
- Employees working under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failure to follow safety guidelines
- Leaving tools, equipment, or debris in unsafe areas
- Incorrectly handling or controlling hazardous chemicals
- Not using cranes, ladders, derricks, forklifts, hoists, elevators, or other equipment properly
Construction Site Accidents and Injuries
In 2019, approximately 15 people died every day while performing their job duties. Of the thousands of people killed in job-related accidents, one in five of them worked in the construction industry. We don’t need statistics to know that construction workers face dangers daily that are rarely encountered in other job roles. We take construction accidents very seriously, and we believe it is our duty to do everything we can to help reduce the alarmingly-high number of injuries, illness, and deaths which occur on construction sites every year.
The following is a list of some of the most common types of construction accidents:
- Falling from heights
- Chemical exposure
- Struck by falling objects
- Trapped between or crushed by equipment
- Vehicle collisions
- Crane accidents
- Fires and explosions
- Scaffolding accidents
- Trench or ground collapse
- Falling over debris or objects left on the ground
- Damage from repetitive motion
- Dehydration, heat stroke, or overexertion
Of the injuries which can result from these types of accidents, many of them may be classified as catastrophic. Catastrophic injuries are those which are extreme, leave the victim with long-lasting damage, and usually involve the skull, brain, or spinal cord. While they can range greatly in severity, the following injuries are ones which frequently occur on construction sites due to one of the aforementioned or other causes:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Broken or fractured bones
- Crushed limbs
- Spinal cord injuries (including paralysis)
- Cuts and lacerations
- Illness due to exposure to toxins
- Eye injuries (including vision impairment or blindness)
- Back, neck, head, and shoulder trauma
- Knee and ankle damage
- Loss of hearing from loud noises
If your loved one was the victim of an accident that resulted in their death at work, you may be considering a wrongful death claim. Having worked with our clients through the process of filing wrongful death claims, we understand that the tragedy of a construction accident causing death has an immeasurable impact on surviving family members. There are legal measure available to help victims’ families recover losses. While every wrongful death case is different, you and your family may be eligible for damages such as funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, loss of the income which supported your family, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, or even punitive damages which can punish acts of gross negligence and prevent future incidents from occurring.
Another very real issue afflicting construction employees is work-related stress. Too many unnecessary deaths have happened because of the immense pressures people face in this intense, dangerous, and demanding line of work. If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty dealing with the pressures of employment in the construction industry, do not wait to reach out for help. There are many options in place to help people prevent needless deaths resulting from job-related emotional anguish.
New Mexico’s Construction Workers Deserve Expert Legal Representation
Our lawyers at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm are known advocates for the citizens of New Mexico who work in the construction industry. Our state takes great pride in our thriving, flourishing cities built upon architectural concepts which combine ecological awareness, an investment in the future, and esteem for traditional regional culture. We owe a great deal to the people who give their hard work to construct and revitalize our towns and cities. If you have been injured in a construction site accident and are unsure about your legal options, let us provide legal guidance to help you win justice, recover your losses, and prevent future accidents from happening. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation.