Scaffolding accidents are one of the most common types of workplace injuries. Although scaffolding can be very safe when constructed according to safety regulations, many construction companies skirt safety protocols. So today, we put together this article describing the most common scaffolding accident causes and their legal consequences.
If you have sustained an injury due to a scaffold accident, you need legal representation. Sadaka Law has years of experience helping clients pursue workers’ compensation and personal injury claims. Employers have a legal obligation to create a safe work environment, so we can hold them accountable for any injury or death from a scaffolding fall accident.
Most Common Scaffolding Accident Causes
Defects in Scaffolding
A significant amount of scaffolding falls result from defects in the scaffolding material itself. Scaffolding may lack required connectors, or the metal may have structural faults. Scaffolds may also fail from overuse and degradation. If a person sustains a fall due to defects in scaffolds, the manufacturing company that designed and sold the scaffolding can be liable for damages.
Even if the manufacturer builds scaffolding correctly, falls can happen due to improper use or construction. Installers may forget to attach connector points or necessary bracings for fall protection. Another common mistake is not securing flooring. That is why it is important to have adequate supervision on a scaffolding site.
If an improperly constructed scaffold causes an injury, the company that built the scaffolding can be held responsible.
Lack of Safety Equipment
In addition to proper construction and inspections, workers on scaffolds require sufficient safety gear. Protective equipment for scaffolds includes visibility vests, hard hats, and protective hand and footwear. Many workplace injuries result from a lack of proper safety equipment, preventing workers from managing dangerous conditions.
If you have been injured due to a lack of protective safety equipment, the construction company can be held liable for not providing adequate protective gear.
Insufficient Worker Training
Construction workers who work on scaffolding undergo specialized training to perform their job duties. Specifically, construction workers learn about proper techniques and safety standards on the job site. Workers can sustain injuries if they do not receive adequate training before going on the job.
Construction workers, especially in New York and New Jersey, work in various conditions of rain, ice, and sometimes snow. Precipitation can make surfaces slippery, and temperature changes can stress materials and connectors. Severe inclement weather can also weigh down scaffolding, causing it to collapse.
Construction workers are around heavy machinery and equipment all day while on scaffolds. While normally secured, equipment and other objects can fall, creating a workplace hazard. Generally, scaffolding has covers to prevent injury from falling debris and objects.
In urban areas like New York City, scaffolding is common around sidewalks and other pedestrian walkways. If scaffolding falls on passersby and causes injury or death, the building owner or construction company that erected the structure may be liable.
Scaffolds contain planking for workers to walk on while performing construction. These planks can come loose and cause falling accidents if not appropriately secured. Planking on scaffolding requires masts, frames, posts, and connectors for stability.
Identifying the exact cause of a scaffolding accident can help determine liability for any damages. Individuals and companies that are liable for injuries can be financially responsible. It is essential to accurately identify the scaffolding accident’s causes because the court cannot establish liability otherwise.
Common Injuries from Scaffolding Accidents
Scaffolding injuries can range from mild to very serious, depending on the height, nature, and severity of the fall. In some cases, scaffolding falls or accidents can be fatal. According to OSHA, scaffolding falls on construction sites are responsible for over 90 deaths and 10,000 injuries per year.
Common injuries from scaffolding falls can include:
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Traumatic brain injury
- Organ damage
Scaffolding injuries are rarely ever the end of the story. A severe injury can put you out of work and negatively affect your income. Medical expenses and bills for prescription medication can exert further financial strain. You may have to go through regular therapy or manage a lifelong disability.
As personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys, the lawyers at Sadaka Law can help injured parties seek financial restitution.
How Common Are Scaffold Safety Violations?
It is difficult to give an exact figure on the number of safety violations because most employers will not willingly divulge unsafe working conditions. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that 72% of falls from scaffolding are due to preventable safety issues. Scaffold falls are the third most common kind of construction site accident.
Types of Scaffolding Injury Cases
Generally speaking, scaffolding injuries come in two types: those sustained by workers on the job site or those sustained by pedestrians nearby. Depending on the context of the injury, you’ll need to take a different path.
If you are an employee and sustain an injury from a scaffolding fall, the best course is to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation programs exist to financially support workers who sustain a debilitating injury during work duties. In the case of a construction worker, workers’ comp could partially or fully cover medical expenses and lost wages from a scaffolding fall.
Fortunately, the law requires all for-profit and most non-profit companies to carry some kind of workers’ compensation coverage. Specific coverage depends on the nature of the involved work. To be eligible for workers’ comp, you must:
- Be an employee of the company in question
- Have an injury that negatively affects your ability to work
- Demonstrate that you sustained that injury during the course of normal work activities
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation can be difficult to acquire, and insurance companies typically resist compensation. They may question your employment status or the severity of your injury to minimize the payout. They may also try to claim that the injuries you sustained were not a result of performing typical work duties or were due to your own negligence.
That is why it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side. A workers’ compensation attorney understands how to approach suits and maximize your chances of receiving a favorable verdict. Our workers’ compensation attorneys are intimately familiar with New York and New Jersey employment law, so we know the most efficient way to approach the process.
If you have sustained an injury from scaffolding as a pedestrian walking by, then you most likely have a personal injury case on your hand. Like most other states, New York and New Jersey decide personal injury cases by establishing negligence.
To establish negligence, the plaintiff must demonstrate three things:
- The defendant had a reasonable duty of care to the plaintiff
- The plaintiff breached that duty of care through some action or inaction
- That action or inaction caused the injury in question
In the context of scaffolding, businesses owners and construction companies have a duty of care to make sure their construction activities do not cause harm to passersby. Specifically, you can sue landlords for maintaining unsafe work conditions on their property, or the construction company can be responsible for equipment misuse.
In personal injury cases, it is very important to gather the right documentation about your injuries. One of the most common defenses against personal injury suits is questioning the severity and scope of injuries. Proper medical documentation can prove the extent of your injuries in court, making a desired outcome more likely.
How Can an Attorney Help?
If you have sustained an injury in a scaffolding accident, it’s in your best interest to speak to a qualified attorney. Personal injury and workers’ compensation cases are difficult to pursue and require extensive documentation and appeals. An attorney can help by:
- Gathering evidence at the scene of the accident
- Questioning witnesses and obtaining testimony
- Gathering medical documentation and reports
- Obtaining employment verification documents
- Submitting paperwork and documents to the court
- Negotiating with insurance companies
- Representing your case in civil court
- Appealing a decision
It is important to act quickly as you only have a limited time to file a suit. New Jersey has a two-year statute of limitations for both workers’ comp and personal injury cases, while New York has a two-year limit for workers’ comp claims and a three-year limit for personal injury claims. If the statute of limitations on your case expires, you will not be able to seek financial compensation.
Contact an Experienced Attorney Today!
The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates is a law firm you can trust. We have been serving the New York and New Jersey area for over 13 years and have earned our clients millions of dollars through individual and class action cases. Our attorneys have pursued cases involving different types of scaffolding accidents causes, so you can rely on our experience to help you navigate your case.
We believe that businesses and corporations have a responsibility to their workers and consumers, so we work hard to ensure that victims have a means of seeking justice.
Contact us online or give us a call at 1 (800) 810-3457 to schedule a case consultation.