Injuries at a construction site are not uncommon, as construction can be one of the most dangerous industries for workers. Depending on the circumstances, suffering injuries in a construction accident may entitle an injured employee to workers’ compensation benefits and could even lead to a third-party claim if a party other than the employer acted in a negligent manner.
Common Types of Construction Site Injuries
Broken bones—such as involving the wrists, ankles, back, pelvis and heels—can be the result of falling from an elevated surface, getting struck by an object, or some other type of accident where excessive force results in a fracture. While most of these injuries heal with time, some can be severe enough that they lead to other complications.
For instance, if the bone penetrates the skin, the open wound increases the risk of infection. Another example is when the bone shatters into pieces or when damage occurs to tissue, nerves and blood vessels in the area. Sometimes the recovery can be months or even longer.
Another common type of injury is a rotator cuff tear. This can lead to chronic pain and require surgery, which extends recovery time. These injuries may happen as a result of falling on the arm or lifting a heavy object. It’s sometimes accompanied by other shoulder injuries such as a dislocation or a broken collarbone.
When surgery is necessary, it requires physical therapy. Unfortunately, this can be a slow process that may take several months to regain range of motion and strength. But there is also the chance that complications will prevent the person from returning to work. This can happen when there is a nerve injury or permanent loss of motion.
Problems with the knees and hips are also common injuries stemming from construction accidents. Falls may cause hip injuries like a strain, dislocation or fracture. Knee problems can affect the employee’s ability to walk. A torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) can sometimes happen when the knee suddenly twists while performing job duties or when in an accident.
Cartilage tears are another type of injury that can happen on a construction site. Virtually any joint in the body is at risk. When the tear is significant, surgical repair may be necessary. Again, this can lead to an extended recovery and possibly disability.
Neck injuries are also common, which may involve:
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Sometimes the pain shoots into the head, jaws, shoulders, back and arms if the nerves are affected. Although there are many ways the neck can be injured on a construction site, more often they happen with falls.
Similarly, back injuries can affect nerves and the discs in the spinal column. These discs—located in the spine—can rupture or bulge. The pressure may impact nerves, increasing the level of pain and could affect other areas of the body like the legs.
As with any other severe injury, surgery and physical therapy may be necessary forms of treatment. Unfortunately, sometimes the individual isn’t able to recover enough to return to work.
Liability for Construction Site Injuries
Regardless of fault, workers injured on the job can recover workers’ compensation benefits. But this is generally the sole recourse against an employer.
However, construction accidents many times involve third parties. In order to file a claim against the third party, the worker must establish that negligence caused the injury.
Let’s say an employee fell because there wasn’t a cover over a hole. It could be that an independent contractor was responsible for securing the hole to prevent accidents. Or if conditions on the property were dangerous and the unreasonable hazards resulted in injuries, the property owner might be liable.
It’s important to talk with an attorney to discuss liability for injuries suffered when working at a construction site. At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, we can evaluate the circumstances of a case to determine liability, entitlement to workers’ comp benefits, and what types of damages workers may seek in a workers’ comp or third-party claim.