Struck-By Accidents at Construction Sites
The risk of a struck-by accident occurring is high at construction sites. These types of dangers are enhanced especially if the site is lax in following prescribed safety guidelines and even its own safety protocols, or if the workers are inexperienced and/or have not been properly trained regarding safety measures, or if they have not been provided with safety equipment such as hard hats, harnesses and goggles, etc.
Whether a site is large or small, typically, multiple laborers are working on different aspects of the project at a given instance. Power tools, vehicles such as forklifts and large equipment such as cranes are often used. This increases the potential for construction workers getting struck by tools, debris, weak structures, objects being dropped from cranes, etc.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a struck-by accident in a New York City construction site, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. Injured workers may suffer catastrophic injuries and in some cases, those injuries may result in death. An experienced New York City construction accident lawyer will be able to assist injured victims or families that have lost loved ones in such accidents secure maximum compensation for their tremendous losses.
Understanding Struck-By Accidents
According to a recent report by the Center for Construction Research and Training, struck-by incidents contributed to 804 construction worker fatalities between 2011 and 2015, the most of any major industry. Here are some other findings from that report:
- About 52 percent of the deaths involved workers struck by an object or equipment. The remaining deaths involved workers struck by vehicles.
- 57 percent of the struck-by vehicle fatalities happened in work zones.
- 114 deaths occurred as a result of the worker being struck by a passenger vehicle and 112 workers died after being hit by a truck.
- Highway, street and bridge workers accounted for 264 of the 804 construction fatalities during the period.
- Construction workers 65 and older experienced the highest rate of struck-by fatalities.
- Highway maintenance workers, power line installers and excavating or loading machine operators experienced the most struck-by fatalities.
Types of Struck-By Injuries
There are a number of different types of struck-by accidents, which may result in major injuries.
Struck by flying objects: Injuries caused by flying objects may include being hit by accidental nail gun discharges, tools or debris or even the tip flying off a saw blade. Power tools, which are commonly used in construction sites, should be in proper working condition. Tools should also be inspected at all times (before and after use) to ensure its condition such as any damage to the power cable or battery, or if its protective guards are in place or damaged/missing etc. Workers should always be given goggles, safety shields and safety glasses when they use power tools. Employees at the jobsite as well as visitors to the site should be given hard hats.
Struck by falling objects: This might include everything from tools and materials to a suspended load on a crane coming loose and striking workers below. Non-essential workers should not be present in areas where work is being performed overhead. These areas should be marked off to protect workers from being struck by falling debris. Workers should not at any time be under a suspended load. Tools and materials should be secured when performing overhead work using guard rails, nets, toe boards, and/or screens etc. to prevent objects from falling. Catch platforms can help deflect falling objects as well.
Struck by swinging objects: These types of accidents or injuries usually happen when objects or materials are being mechanically lifted by a crane. When something causes the load to sway and when a worker is inside the swing radius, there is the danger of getting hit. Site supervisors must ensure that workers are well outside the swing radius. The crane operator should pay attention to people in the vicinity at all times.
Rolling object hazards: There is a lot of heavy equipment that’s used in construction sites. Workers are often struck by a vehicle or heavy equipment in motion. Workers should keep away from vehicles and heavy equipment that are in use. These types of vehicles – be it forklifts or other transport vehicles – should have audible alarms as they are backing up so workers in the area can hear them coming and move out of the way. There should also be a lookout when vehicles are backing up, etc.
It is crucial that the crewmember operating heavy equipment is trained to avoid causing struck-by accidents. These types of accidents commonly occur when workers don’t have enough training on how to operate the machinery safely.
Fall from scaffold: More than 80 percent of construction work happens on a scaffold. When workers are struck by a flying, falling, swinging or rolling object while on a scaffold, they face the significant risk of getting knocked off of the scaffold. While they may suffer traumatic injuries as a result of being struck by an object, the fatal blow may come from the fall they take as a result. This is why it is essential that workers who are on scaffolds be provided with fall protection devices such as harnesses, safety nets, guard rails, etc.
Struck-by Accidents: Common Injuries
There is no question that struck-by accidents can leave workers with devastating injuries that may result in long-term or lifelong disabilities. Here are some of the most common injuries caused by these types of accidents:
Head injuries: When objects or debris fall, they are most likely to strike a worker’s head. Depending on the height from which the object falls, its weight and the speed at which it is traveling, the injuries suffered can be extremely traumatic. These types of struck-by accidents typically result in traumatic brain injuries such as concussions, skull fractures and brain bleeds. Severe brain injuries often require surgery, hospitalization, extensive rehabilitation and ongoing therapy. Construction workers who suffer traumatic brain injuries have a lot of trouble returning to work. Such injuries, especially when they involve falling objects at construction sites, may also cause fatalities.
Broken bones: When workers are struck by falling objects, another common type of injury they experience is bone fractures. While these may not be life-threatening injuries, they may result in temporary or even permanent disabilities, depending on the nature and extent of the injuries involved. Bone fractures may require lengthy rehabilitative treatment such as physical therapy or chiropractic care. You may not be able to return to work for a long time or may never be able to return to the job you were doing before the accident. In some cases where heavy objects are involved, victims’ bones may be crushed resulting in lasting damage.
Loss of limbs: When an object or debris falls on a worker’s hands or legs, he may end up losing limbs as a result. Loss of limbs is a catastrophic injury, which means it results in lifelong disabilities. In such cases, workers lose their livelihoods and are never able to return to working in the construction industry. Losing this ability to earn an income and a livelihood can be emotionally and financially devastating for workers and their families.
Internal organ damage: Struck-by injuries may also result in trauma to internal organs, which may have fatal consequences due to hemorrhaging. This is why it is important for workers to get prompt medical attention, treatment and care in the aftermath of a struck-by accident. Accept treatment at the scene and/or go to an emergency room right away to get help.
Struck-By Accidents Can Be Prevented
There are a number of steps construction companies, contractors and building owners can take to minimize the risk of struck-by accidents.
Increase visibility at the work site. One of the key factors in struck-by incidents is poor visibility. These accidents may occur especially when workers don’t have proper visibility at the site. Installing proper lighting, requiring reduced speed for construction vehicles, and having loud alarms and horns for forklifts and other vehicles would help prevent struck-by accidents. Also lookouts would help.
Post caution or warning signs. Work sites or areas should be marked with tape, pylons, signs, cones, ropes etc. to prevent workers from accidentally moving into areas where they may be hit by falling debris. They must be marked clearly and written in languages that workers are familiar with. Also symbols and diagrams would help.
Provide job and safety training for workers. It is important that construction workers receive training on how to do their jobs and how to do them safely. Since a large segment of New York City’s construction workforce is foreign-born, it is important to provide them training in a language they can understand well.
Stack materials mindfully to prevent sliding, falling and collapsing. These are the types of incidents that may result in objects falling down and causing serious accidents. Secure tools and materials to prevent them from falling on people below.
Provide workers with personal protective equipment. Workers should always be provided with personal protective equipment such as hard hats, safety goggles, face shields, ear protection, etc. It is also important that workers be provided with fall protection devices such as harnesses. A number of struck-by accidents involve workers who are on scaffolds. So, when they are struck by flying or falling objects while standing or working on a scaffold, there is a heightened risk of suffering a fatal fall.
Liability Issues in Struck-by Accidents
When it comes to construction site struck-by injuries, there are a number of parties that may be held liable. Injured workers can seek workers’ compensation benefits. However, in cases where parties other than the employer or co-employees have been found negligent (careless) or to have caused or contributed to the struck-by injury, victims can file what is known as a third-party claim seeking compensation for damages.
Examples of third parties include general contractors, sub-contractors, property owners and/or managers, manufacturers of defective machinery, makers of faulty protective devices, etc. An experienced construction accident lawyer in New York City will be able to thoroughly assess each claim to determine all potentially liable parties.
Compensation for Damages
If you have suffered serious injuries in a struck-by construction accident, you are probably wondering what types of damages you may be able to seek. Here are some examples of the damages for which you can be reimbursed:
Medical expenses: These expenses often include the cost of emergency transportation, doctor’s fees, emergency room treatment, hospitalization, surgeries, cost of medications, medical devices, etc.
Lost wages and benefits: This includes all income and benefits that were lost as a result of the worker’s injuries. When it comes to struck-by accidents, a worker may need to take anywhere between a few days to a few months or even more, to recover from his or her injuries, if they do recover from them.
Lost future income: Stuck-by accidents have the potential to result in catastrophic injuries that may leave individuals with lifelong injuries and disabilities. If the worker has suffered catastrophic injury such as a traumatic brain injury, paralyzing spinal injury or limb amputation, he or she is also entitled to damages for lost future income and loss of his or her livelihood, etc.
Rehabilitation: After a career-ending injury, a worker may need physical or occupational therapy or other tools to move on with his or her life. These rehabilitative costs often add up quickly and are not always covered by health insurance policies. So, workers end up paying out of pocket here. Such expenses can also be part of a worker’s injury claim.
Past and future pain and suffering: This includes the physical and emotional pain caused to the victim as a result of the injuries.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a struck-by construction accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Our law firm recovered $3,375,576 for a construction worker (an undocumented immigrant) who was injured on the job – one of the highest construction case settlements in New York that year.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case. We have recovered many millions of dollars for victims of construction site accidents.
Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:
1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com