Construction Slip & Fall
A slip-and-fall accident can happen almost anywhere. However, people in and around construction sites are at heightened risk of serious injury.
At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, we have represented injury victims in serious and fatal construction accidents for more than four decades. Of the nearly 800 construction workers who lost their lives on the job in 2013, more than one-third died in falls. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction workers routinely encounter surfaces that are unexpectedly wet, greased with oil or other lubricant, slick with chemicals, mud or gravel or floors that are in disrepair. The problem is made worse if the worker is not given or trained in the proper gear to wear on site.
These kinds of claims can be especially complicated for construction workers because employees may be limited to workers’ compensation benefits from an employer, but might still want to consider pursuit of a claim for personal injury, product liability or wrongful death against a third party. Viability of such a claim has to be carefully weighed. Our experienced Fort Myers construction injury lawyers offer veteran legal counsel, and we’re committed to considering all potential avenues of compensation for you and your family.Construction Site Slip-and-Fall: Causes and Costs
When people think “construction fall,” they immediately assume a fall from a height. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most fall-related injuries (about 65 percent) occur on a same-level walking surface.
These incidents exact a major toll in terms of death, personal injury, suffering, workers’ compensation and productivity loss, as well as civil liability.
The 2013 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index indicates same-level falls were the No. 2 cause of all workplace injuries that year, accounting for nearly 14 percent of direct costs associated with workplace injuries (more than $6.6 billion). What’s more, the National Safety Council reports about $70 billion a year is spent on workers’ compensation and medical costs associated with worker slip-and-fall accidents. The average worker who suffers a slip-and-fall injury on-the-job misses 8 days of work. However, almost a third are out for 21 days or longer.
Despite increased knowledge of the problem, it continues to grow.
Within the construction industry, slip-and-fall accidents in particular account for 15 percent of all accidental deaths. Some of the more common causes of slip-and-fall accidents within construction sites include:
- Failure to require or provide slip-resistant footwear;
- Failure to place mats and runners in areas where individuals are likely to encounter foreign materials or contaminants on the floor surface;
- Failure to ensure appropriate clean-up and maintenance procedures to ensure walking areas are safe;
- Failure to warn in areas where a slip hazard might be likely.
Although the hazards of construction work are well-known, the fact is that those who work in this industry – like everyone else – have a right to a safe workplace.
Last year, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration issued General Requirements for Walking-Working Surfaces. These require:
- All places of employment, storerooms, service rooms and passageways be kept clean, orderly and in sanitary condition;
- Floors in every workroom must be maintained in a clean, and so far is possible, dry condition;
- Every floor, working space and passageway has to be kept free of protruding nails, splinters, loose boards or holes;
- Passageways and aisles have to be kept clear and in good repair, with no obstruction hazards;
- Permanent passageways and aisles need to be appropriately marked.
- If mechanical handling equipment is used, the aisles have to be sufficiently wide enough.
- Only qualified persons will be allowed to inspect, maintain or repair walking or working surfaces.
In Florida, as in virtually every other state, workers’ compensation is recognized as the “exclusive remedy” for employees who are injured on-the-job, and it’s essentially a “no-fault” system.
The benefit to the worker and/or his family is that, in theory, he or she will not have to wage an extensive battle in court in order to obtain benefits. And in general, it’s not necessary to prove fault. So long as the slip-and-fall injury occurred at work or arose out of the course of work, it should be compensable.
The trade-off, however, is that workers’ compensation benefits are often substantially less than what one might receive in litigation. Even so, workers usually aren’t given the option, unless they can prove the employer acted (or failed to act) in a manner that was almost certain to cause serious injury or death.
The only other alternative is to pursue third-party litigation, which are filed separately from workers’ compensation. On construction sites, this can be a complicated matter.
Many construction sites have multiple employers, and the ability of a subcontractor’s employee to file a lawsuit against the general contractor or property owner for negligence in failing to maintain a safe premises depends on several factors, including the degree of control those entities held over the site and the employee’s work and whether the entities retained workers’ compensation insurance that covered that worker.
Our attorneys have decades of experience in pursuing workers’ compensation claims, as well as third-party litigation following a construction site slip-and-fall injury.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a construction site fall in Southwest Florida, contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.