The use of scaffolding is extremely common in the construction industry. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as many as 2.3 million construction workers—or 65 percent of the construction industry—work on scaffolds as a routine part of their job.
Scaffolding is a valuable tool that allows construction workers to complete projects at great heights. However, there's a good reason why OSHA imposes strict safety standards for this type of equipment: when used improperly, scaffolds can be extremely dangerous. In fact, OSHA statistics show that scaffolding-related workplace accidents cause as many as 4,500 injuries and more than 60 deaths each year.
If you were injured in a workplace scaffolding accident, you may be entitled to collect workers' compensation benefits. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may even have grounds to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. Read on to learn more.
Common Causes of Scaffolding Accidents
Scaffolding accidents can have any number of causes, including inadequate work rules or fall protection, improper scaffolding construction or operating procedures, inclement weather, parts failure, and falling objects or materials. However, 72 percent of workers injured in scaffold accidents who were contacted by OSHA attributed the incident to planking or supports giving way, or the employee slipping and falling or being struck by a falling object.
Injuries Associated With Scaffolding Accidents
Sadly, scaffolding accidents can result in devastating injuries or even deaths. That's not surprising, considering that these incidents usually occur when construction crew employees are working at a height. Some of the most common serious injuries associated with construction site scaffold accidents include:
- Severe lacerations
- Fractured, broken, or crushed bones
- Internal bleeding or organ damage
- Concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries, which may result in varying degrees of paralysis
- Dental and facial injuries
- Scarring or disfigurement
Some of these injuries may result in permanent impairments and require lifelong treatment and assistive care—the cost of which can quickly mount.
Workers' Comp Versus Personal Injury Claims
Workers injured in construction scaffolding accidents may be able to file a workers' compensation claim to collect benefits such as medical coverage, rehabilitation expenses, partial or total temporary or permanent disability payments, and more. Because the workers' compensation system rarely focuses on wrongdoing by the injured worker, claimants can often still receive benefits, even if they were fully or partially responsible for their accidents and injuries.
Not having to prove negligence is one of the benefits of filing a workers' compensation claim. However, there are some drawbacks. For example, while workers' compensation offers a range of compensation for economic damages, claimants can't seek compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Workers injured in scaffolding accidents caused by an employee from another company may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit, which would allow them to pursue a much broader range of damages. In addition to fighting for compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of income, personal injury plaintiffs can also seek damages for physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, reduced quality of life, loss of enjoyment of life, and more. In a personal injury case, when a defendant's behavior is determined to be particularly egregious, the judge or jury may also award punitive damages. Rather than compensating a victim for a loss, punitive damages are paid to the victim as part of the defendant's punishment.
Consult a Knowledgeable Delaware Workers' Comp Attorney About Your Scaffolding Accident Case
Hurt in a construction site scaffolding accident and unsure of your legal rights and options? The skilled workers' compensation and personal injury attorneys with the Morris Jame Personal Injury Group can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case with an experienced member of our legal team. Don't wait—the time to file a claim is limited.