Construction Accidents/Unsafe Equipment in New York & New Jersey
Those in the construction industry are tasked with very challenging and frequently dangerous work. Numerous safety measures have been put in place to protect workers from debris and falls, but it is important to also protect them from unsafe equipment and tools.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that more than 5,000 construction workers were killed on the job in 2019. This averages out to 85 fatalities each week or close to 13 every day. Construction-related worker deaths make up 20% of all worker fatalities in the United States, with falls from a height accounting for about 35% of all construction site fatalities.
Unsafe tools and equipment expose everyone on the job site to the risk of fatal or serious injuries. Whether it is a result of manufacturing defects, cutting corners, or poor maintenance, injured construction workers are entitled to financial compensation for injuries caused by dangerous equipment.
If you or a family member has sustained any kind of injury resulting from unsafe construction equipment, reach out to a reputable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Along with workers’ compensation benefits, you may be entitled to pursue additional damages via a personal injury claim.
Contact the New Jersey and New York construction accident attorneys at Metro Law to schedule your free consultation today.
Representation for Victims of Unsafe Equipment Workplace Injuries
Industrial accidents are the third most common cause of death and injury in the workplace. Recent statistics have revealed that as much as 80% of those deaths involve mechanical equipment. Construction workers who routinely use heavy machinery are at higher odds of being injured, dismembered, and killed.
Employers have a duty to provide safe working conditions for employees and maintain equipment in good working order to limit injuries. If you were injured by equipment or heavy machinery while you were on the job, you might be able to file a claim for damages caused by your unsafe equipment accident.
Dangerous Heavy Equipment Accidents
Industrial machinery is made up of multiple moving parts that include reciprocating arms, rotating members, meshing gears, moving belts, cutting teeth, and parts designed to sever, cleave, and crush. Even though these dangerous mechanical activities can be found in almost all construction equipment, many workers are not sufficiently protected from the risks involved in using them. Machinery and equipment that are not adequately maintained pose a heightened risk to both workers and employees.
What Types of Accidents Can Unsafe Equipment Cause?
Construction workers are required to work with rotating blades, powerful engines, complex lifting devices, heavy machinery, and more, usually from the top of scaffolding or other elevated surfaces. This type of equipment demands intense focus and a high degree of skill under ideal circumstances. When the equipment was manufactured incorrectly or is in disrepair, the risk of serious injury increases exponentially.
Potentially unsafe construction equipment includes a wide range of tools and structures, such as:
- Ladders and scaffolding
- Nail guns
- Dump trucks
- Punch presses
- Table saws
- Earthmoving equipment
- Power tools
- Cherry pickers
If an unsound piece of machinery or equipment causes an on-the-job injury, the victim may be entitled to various forms of financial compensation through either a workers’ compensation program or a civil suit. Injured workers can usually receive compensation for current and anticipated medical expenses, lost income, reduced future earning potential, total or partial disability, and wrongful death.
What Causes Unsafe Construction Equipment?
Construction equipment can be dangerous for many different reasons. Each of these reasons places the burden of liability on a different party. The two main causes of unsafe construction equipment are:
Improper Inspection or Maintenance
Improper inspections and inadequate maintenance can cause construction equipment to malfunction, making it more dangerous than it would be in good working order. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has drafted numerous safety regulations aimed at the construction industry, including regulations for proper inspections. Failing to adhere to these regulations is not only against the law but also increases the odds of death or serious injury for those using the equipment.
If an incomplete inspection or improper maintenance results in an equipment malfunction which then results in injury, the manager of the job site is usually liable. If, however, the owner or contractor of the job site is the person in charge of establishing and enforcing the inspection and maintenance schedules, then they could be held liable instead.
Manufacturing or Design Defects
Defects in the designing or manufacturing of construction equipment can lead to unforeseen and serious malfunctions. If a piece of equipment is poorly designed and causes an injury, the company responsible for its design is generally held accountable under New Jersey and New York product liability laws. If a product is designed well but not manufactured in accordance with the design specifications, resulting in a dangerous product, the manufacturer is typically held accountable for the worker’s injuries.
Product liability also includes defective marketing or failure to warn. For example, if a piece of construction machinery is well designed and well manufactured but fails to include instructions for safe use and warnings of potential dangers and injury results, the manufacturer can be liable for neglecting to obey safety requirements in labeling.
Construction equipment can be dangerous for many reasons for which employers, or in some instances, a third party can be held liable, including:
- Workers not adequately trained on the safe use of the equipment
- Dangerous equipment not appropriately restricted or labeled
- Equipment is faulty making it even more dangerous
- Equipment has not undergone proper maintenance
- Equipment’s safety features have been overridden or deliberately disabled
- Equipment has unguarded moving parts, either by design or because guards have been intentionally removed
- Electrical hazards caused by missing ground pins, faulty wiring, or frayed cords
- Notices or labels intended to alert workers to possible equipment hazards are insufficient or missing altogether
Common Unsafe Equipment Injuries
Thousands of construction workers sustain injuries caused by unsafe equipment every year. Intentional or unintentional contact with moving machine parts is extremely dangerous and often ends with catastrophic injuries, such as:
Just the financial costs associated with partial and complete amputations can create a heavy burden. Treatment includes being fitted for a prosthetic digit or limb that costs thousands of dollars but is necessary to minimize the loss of use. Additionally, the physical constraints caused by the amputation can result in a considerable loss in earnings.
Due to the psychological impacts of no longer being fully able-bodied, emotional support may also be required. Without the aid of full financial compensation, making a complete recovery can be challenging for amputation victims.
It is not uncommon for burn injury victims to need skin grafts and surgical excisions. Some injuries may involve only minor burns that, although painful, do not require surgery.
The severity of a burn injury will fall under one of the following five classifications:
- First-degree: Almost everyone has experienced a first-degree burn from common household chores such as cooking or ironing. A first-degree burn is when only the epidermis (the outermost layer) of the skin is damaged. The injured area will turn dry and red. It may be somewhat painful and could take up to a week to heal.
- Second-degree, superficial: A second-degree superficial burn is when the dermis (the first and second layers of skin) are burned but the second layer is not badly damaged. The skin will turn red and clear blisters will develop. The area will appear wet and could take weeks to heal.
- Second-degree, deep: This takes place when the dermis is severely damaged. The skin will appear white and red with the formation of blood-filled blisters. A skin graft might be required to replace the damaged skin caused by a second-degree deep burn.
- Third-degree: A third-degree burn occurs when the whole dermis is damaged. The area appears brown or white and is very stiff. The affected skin will be leathery and dry and require excision. It is not uncommon for third-degree burns to be so damaging they lead to necessary amputation.
- Fourth-degree: This happens when the skin is so mutilated that the subcutaneous layer of skin, the deepest layer, as well as the underlying bone and muscle are damaged. The wound will appear dry and charred and will exhibit a significant loss of function.
A worker who receives an electrical shock can be severely injured. In addition to painful shock itself, they could sustain a serious burn, nerve damage, physical deformity, or even cardiac arrest after making contact with a live wire. The seriousness of the injury will depend on the voltage, the electric current, and the kind of circuit involved.
If you sustained an electrical shock injury at work, it is vital that you seek immediate medical attention and make sure you understand your rights.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Based on the level of trauma, brain injury patients have many treatment options available to them. Initial treatment typically involves stabilization and hospitalization of the patient immediately after the injury occurs.
Acute treatment focuses on keeping the victim alive and reducing the risk of a secondary injury. Surgeries might be necessary to keep oxygen and blood moving to the brain while decreasing pressure and swelling. Rehabilitative care and physical medicine often help victims continue to engage in normal daily activities. Ongoing occupational therapy, physical therapy, language and speech therapy, and emotional support might also be required.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Trauma to the spine resulting in a spinal cord injury is categorized by severity and type. The majority of these injuries do not sever the spine completely, but even a bruised spinal column can create serious health problems, and any damage to the nerve fibers could potentially cause paralysis.
If the injury is in the lower back, it may only impact the victim’s legs. If the injury is higher, like in the victim’s neck, it may impact all of their limbs, as well as their torso and a few basic bodily functions.
Eye Injuries and Blindness
Hardware facilities, construction zones, manufacturing plants, factories, and lumber yards are some of the most dangerous areas for your eyes. Even while wearing protective goggles to protect them from flying debris, long-term exposure to metallic dust, powerful chemicals, woodchips, and freezing or scorching temperatures can result in permanent damage to your eyes.
Workers’ Compensation for Unsafe Equipment Injuries
If you are hurt on the job, workers’ compensation benefits are designed to compensate you for the wages you missed while you were out of work. As helpful as this is, in most cases, the money obtained via a workers’ compensation claim is simply not enough to cover your damages and losses.
Workers’ compensation was designed as protection for workers who were injured on the job. Receiving benefits should be a straightforward and simple matter following a construction-related unsafe equipment accident. Unfortunately, insurance companies and employers will go to great lengths to protect their bottom line, and securing the benefits you need and deserve is not always easy.
If you were injured on the job and your claim is insufficient or denied altogether, we encourage you to reach out to a New York or New Jersey personal injury lawyer at Metro Law right away so we can review your legal options for recovery. These may include filing a workers’ compensation benefits appeal or seeking financial compensation in a court of law.
Liability for Unsafe Equipment
It is a common misconception that workers’ compensation provides employers with immunity from liability for damages when a worker is killed or severely injured due to employer negligence.
OSHA regulations clearly state that employers have a duty to conduct routine inspections and maintain equipment in safe working order. Employers also have a duty to post necessary warnings and ensure that employees are given the appropriate equipment safeguards and protective gear. Employers who are found guilty of gross negligence, OSHA violations and other breaches of safety regulations concerning construction equipment can be held accountable for the ensuing worker fatalities and injuries.
In some circumstances, a third party, meaning someone other than the employer, is liable for the unsafe equipment. For instance, on a construction site, various companies and subcontractors could be on the site using different kinds of equipment and machinery. In cases of industrial accidents where faulty equipment leads to a death or serious injury, a third party could be held accountable for the damages, and financial compensation sought through legal channels.
Contact the New York and New Jersey Unsafe Equipment Lawyers at Metro Law
The chaos of an active job site and the complexity of construction machinery and equipment can make it hard to pinpoint the precise cause of an accident. Our New York and New Jersey unsafe equipment attorneys have the knowledge and skill to conduct a thorough investigation into your claim and determine what caused your injury. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Metro Law by calling (973) 721-9984.