If you or a loved one has been injured or killed falling from a scaffold, you may be experiencing a host of emotions. In addition to the pain of physical injuries, the trauma from an accident and the stress of managing recovery can seem overwhelming. Your world has been turned upside down.
Scaffolds are the temporary structures that construction workers use to access the higher levels of projects in progress. Because scaffolds are not part of the final product, they are usually built very quickly and with a relatively high level of improvisation to fit the project at hand. Unfortunately, they often fail to meet the safety standards applied to more permanent structures. Thus, incidents may be more likely to occur.
The physical and emotional injuries that result from scaffolding accidents are significant and can be life changing. Medical treatment is costly, and your ability to work and function as you did prior to the accident can be impacted.
As a scaffolding accident victim, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, depending upon the accident’s cause. Investigating it, identifying the responsible parties and holding them accountable are the critical steps necessary to getting you the settlement you deserve.
The scaffolding injury attorneys at The Stoddard Firm are well-versed in personal injury law and construction site accidents. Contact them today at 470-467-2200 and learn how they can help you move forward.
Scaffolding Accident Lawyers Understand These Incidents
What Causes Scaffolding Accidents?
Unfortunately, scaffolding accidents are often not random events or unavoidable hazards of work.
At the heart of what causes scaffolding accidents is negligence, companies making cost cutting decisions that put efficiency and profits before worker well-being.
In fact, scaffolding standards are the third most commonly violated category of OSHA regulations. Simply adhering to these already mandatory rules could save dozens of lives every year; unfortunately, OSHA penalties and common decency are rarely enough to change the behavior of for-profit companies.
On a more practical level, the most common causes of scaffolding accidents can be segmented based on the three main scaffolding accident types:
Falls from scaffolding
Objects falling from scaffolding
Scaffold collapse accidents are complicated and varied. Their causes can range from faulty materials to poor construction to external accidents. For example, in July of 2020, the parapet of a Manhattan building collapsed, striking a construction rig, which then struck a scaffold where workers were performing repairs. The scaffolding collapsed, and one worker was killed. In that case, there may have been nothing wrong with the scaffolding itself, but the building repairs were, by all accounts, long overdue, and it seems the construction company may not have accounted in their setup for how unstable it was. This level of negligence is not uncommon and is unacceptable.
Common Scaffolding Accident Injuries
While some people walk away from a scaffolding accident with only minor issues, others sustain injuries that can be painful, costly and life-altering. And some scaffolding accidents can be fatal. Among the most common injuries suffered are:
Depending upon the severity of your injuries, you may be unable to return to work in the short term — and in some cases, not at all. When you combine your loss of income with the mounting medical costs, it is no wonder you are stressed.
The scaffolding accident lawyers at the Stoddard Law Firm can help make sure you are compensated for your losses.
When you engage our team of personal injury lawyers, you can rest assured that qualified and experienced professionals are working tirelessly to build a powerful case on your behalf.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Scaffolding Accident?
When you are injured, have mounting expenses and are uncertain as to your future abilities, wondering who may be held liable for your injuries is reasonable.
Identifying the liable parties can be challenging, a task your scaffolding injury attorney can help to complete. Each situation is unique in these types of construction accidents, and often multiple organizations can be involved on the same project. Depending upon the specifics surrounding the accident, those who may be held liable include, but are not limited to, the:
Scaffolding Manufacturer (should it have malfunctioned)
Construction Company or Contractors Using the Scaffold
The reason for the accident will be key in determining who was responsible and to what extent. In scaffolding accidents, it is common for more than one party to be held liable.
Scaffolding Injury Lawsuits
When Can You Sue for Damages After a Scaffolding Accident?
Even when a construction company is clearly in the wrong, workers’ comp law may protect it from employee lawsuits. If you are eligible for workers’ comp, which usually only covers medical expenses and a portion of lost wages, you usually can’t sue your employer directly for full compensation. However, many construction workers are not classified as employees, and there may be other parties besides your employer who are at fault.
If you were injured due to a construction company’s negligent use of scaffolding, you may have a case against them if any of the following is true:
You are an independent contractor or otherwise not directly employed by the construction company.
Your workers’ comp claim was denied.
A superior caused your accident on purpose.
Even if none of these apply to you, you may still be able to recover full compensation by looking to negligent parties other than your employer. For example, if the scaffolding was constructed from defective materials, the supplier could be held liable for your losses. The owners of building projects also often share liability in case of accidents, and other subcontractors may be responsible as well.
You can pursue compensation from third parties while simultaneously collecting your workers’ comp payment, so there’s no need to wait before getting your immediate medical expenses covered.
Understanding the Damages You May Receive
If you were injured in a scaffolding accident, you are likely faced with a host of expenses. In personal injury cases (the area of law under which scaffolding incidents come) the state of Georgia segments damages into three areas:
Economic damages are those which are easily quantifiable. In situations like this, they may include, but are not limited to: medical bills for past, current and future treatments (including emergency treatment, hospital and doctor fees, rehabilitation, and medication); lost wages; property damage; and future wages.
Non-economic damages are those which are harder to put a dollar figure on, but are still very real. These include pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement and loss of consortium.
Punitive damages are assigned when the negligence that caused the accident was extreme or perhaps purposeful. These damages are designed not to compensate for expenses, but to punish the defendant(s) for their behavior and deter others from acting similarly.
The value of each claim is reliant upon a number of factors, not the least of which is the extent of your injuries.
Other things taken into account include recovery time, your ability to work, medical costs, and permanent disability, as well as a host of personal factors (income, age, etc.).
Your scaffolding accident attorney in Atlanta can provide you with a better Idea of what to expect once they have more detailed information regarding your specific situation.
Scaffolding Accidents Change Lives
Examples of Accidents
The range of scaffolding accidents is considerable. The majority occur without any external influence. Below we have shared some examples of accidents around the country.
Illinois: In June of 2020, two workers fell down the inside of an Illinois water tower while performing sandblasting work, when their scaffold collapsed under them. One of them fell at least 50 feet, and both were rescued in critical condition. The accident was described as a “technical failure.” That’s pretty much the same story that can be seen happening to construction workers all over the country, over and over again.
New Hampshire: Also in June of 2020, another scaffolding collapsed. This incident occurred in New Hampshire in February, causing one worker to fall an estimated 20-30 feet and forcing another to jump inside the building they were working on to avoid injury. The worker who fell was hospitalized. The company involved had already received numerous OSHA citations, including some related to scaffolding standards.
Florida: In Miami, a scaffolding collapsed under two workers. Like the others, this collapse shouldn’t have happened, but this incident differs in one vital way. The two workers both had backup safety harnesses that functioned perfectly and saved their lives. They were both rescued uninjured.
Sadly, falls from scaffolding, fatal accidents, and serious related injuries are tragically common on construction sites. About one in every five fatal workplace accidents happen to construction workers, and falls are the second most common cause of work-related injuries across the board.
That’s why it’s so important for scaffolding accident survivors, and the families of the victims of scaffolding fatal accidents, to stand up for their rights in civil court. Not only can getting fair compensation offer a sense of justice and relieve the practical burdens that come with a loss, making it easier to focus on the emotional ones, but it also helps take the profit out of endangering workers.
Scaffolding Doesn’t Have to Collapse to Cause Injuries and Death
When everyone involved in a construction project adheres to the laws and makes safety their No. 1 priority, injuries and death can be prevented.
Other types of scaffolding accidents are caused by external issues, like when vehicles run into otherwise sound scaffolding. As we see in Atlanta, construction often needs to be performed on public streets, and these accidents can be difficult to prevent. However, construction companies should anticipate likely hazards, such as local traffic, and take all reasonable measures to shield workers or include redundancies that will prevent severe falls in case of an accident.
Another type of scaffolding accidents occurs without the scaffolding collapsing at all. In this type, a worker falls over the edge of a non-collapsing scaffold. This, too, is troublingly common.
Such an accident happened in June of 2020 to a 16-year-old part-time subcontractor in Nashville, Tennessee. His older brother was standing next to him on the scaffolding and describes hearing a noise and turning just in time to see him go over. The victim fell 120 feet to his death. No safety harness was found on either the remains or the scaffold.
Then, in November, a man in Madison, Wisconsin, fell at least 35 feet from a scaffold and was taken to the hospital in critical condition. OSHA was contacted, but no further details have been released.
The third kind of scaffolding accident occurs when an inanimate object falls from a scaffold and strikes a person on a lower level. While also common, these accidents are often left out of scaffolding accident statistics, because scaffolds are just one of many falling-object hazards to be found on construction sites.
The role of the scaffolds themselves in these accidents should not be ignored, however, because the design and use of a scaffold can significantly affect its likelihood of causing a falling-object accident.
Lumping all falling-object accidents together without paying attention to where the objects are falling from leads to missed prevention opportunities. Hard hats are great, but making sure they never need to be tested on the job is even better. Well-designed scaffolds can help do that.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Scaffolding Accidents?
Did you know that many scaffolding accidents are preventable? Because of this, when they occur we look for a reason why. And sadly, it is often due to the negligence of one or a number of individuals or organizations.
So, how do you stop scaffolding from falling? Or stop people or objects from falling off of scaffoldings? What is the most dangerous hazard with scaffolding planks, really, and how can it best be addressed?
Though often ignored, OSHA does provide detailed safety standards for scaffolding construction and use. Some of these measures that construction companies can and should be taking to protect their workers include:
Using planking rated to support at least four times the intended load.
Make sure there is no more than a 1-inch gap between horizontal planking and uprights in most places, and never more than 9 ½ inches in places where irregular building shapes require a larger gap.
Bracing scaffolds at regular intervals.
Installing guardrails along all edges not facing the work, with drop-offs of more than 10 feet.
Shielding workers below from falling objects using nets, toe boards, or catch platforms, while also requiring hard hats.
Training all employees on the hazards and best practices associated with the kind of scaffolding they will be using.
Providing personal fall arrest systems to anyone who will be working at a height.
Never requiring or allowing workers to use cluttered or slippery scaffolding, except to correct the situation.
Following these standards and the rest of OSHA’s relevant codes can prevent scaffolding planks from giving way, stop tools and appendages from slipping through gaps, and provide multiple layers of protection against serious falls and head injuries.
These safety standards are not only freely available to construction companies, they’re legally non-negotiable.
Companies that choose to ignore them are responsible for the harm they cause to workers and families and should be expected to pay for it.
The Stoddard Firm Has Passionate and Qualified Scaffolding Accident Lawyers in Georgia
What We Can Do For You
When choosing a construction site accident lawyer for scaffolding fatal accidents or injury cases, it’s important to find someone knowledgeable in all relevant areas of law, who will make your priorities their own.
The experts at The Stoddard Firm are well-versed in employment law, premises liability, product liability, personal injury, and wrongful death. We understand the typical circumstances surrounding scaffolding accidents, so we know what to look for, but we don’t make assumptions. We’ll perform our own thorough investigation of the accident to find out what went wrong, identify all negligent parties, and present you with your best options for full compensation.
Full compensation, to us, has a very specific meaning. We don’t simply want to be sure you can cover emergency surgeries — or, if necessary, funeral expenses — without taking on debt. We want all of your expenses related to the accident to be covered for the remainder of your life, including lost income and long-term care, as well as a fair sum for your physical and emotional pain. An experienced construction accident attorney understands and appreciates the scope of expenses you may be facing and can help to quantify them for the purposes of settlement or trial.
Contact Your Lawyer for a Scaffolding Injury Today
We stand ready to help you. When you work with our experienced team you can rest assured that we will manage all legal and administrative tasks, including complying with the Statute of Limitations, so you can focus 100% of your attention on your recovery.
We will keep you in the loop every step of the way, and fight for the best compensation for you. Additionally, we know that questions will arise throughout the process, and we are always available to answer them. Taking your calls is never a bother; responding to your concerns is an important part of our job.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a scaffolding accident, reach out to us today at 470-467-2200 or contact us through our online chat function to schedule a free consultation with our Atlanta scaffolding accident attorney.
Attorney Matt Stoddard
Matt Stoddard is a professional, hardworking, ethical advocate. He routinely faces some of the nation’s largest companies and some of the world’s largest insurers – opponents who have virtually unlimited resources. In these circumstances, Mr. Stoddard is comfortable. Mr. Stoddard provides his strongest efforts to his clients, and he devotes the firm’s significant financial resources to presenting the strongest case possible on their behalf. Matt understands that his clients must put their trust in him. That trust creates an obligation for Matt to work tirelessly on their behalf, and Matt Stoddard does not take that obligation lightly. [ Attorney Bio ]
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