Attorney Plotnick delivers results in construction & worksite accidents
Construction workers build America. The houses we live in, the roads we drive on, the offices where we work – all of them exist thanks to the hard work of experienced construction workers across our country. At the same time, construction sites, whether it be that new strip mall, apartment building or a roadway project, are among the most dangerous places for many reasons, the use of dangerous and heavy equipment, the amount of materials that are stored on site and the debris generated during the projects, the use and storage of dangerous or toxic chemicals, the heavy commercial traffic coming in and out, the use of dangerous heavy machinery, and the disturbances caused to the grounds of the property and area that surrounds it, such as holes, ditches, cracks, spills, and numerous other kinds of hazards which create danger to the public.
Contractors and property owners have to keep the area safe for persons who may be walking or driving in and around these hazards, and the workers on site. If they do not monitor for dangers or perform the work in safe manner, serious injury and harm can result, not only to employees on the site, but to people who come in contact with the area, just passing by.
Common construction accidents
Attorney Plotnick and his talented legal team have decades of experience in handling some of the most complicated construction accidents and personal injury cases in Rockville and other communities in Maryland and the surrounding areas. Some of the most common – and serious – construction accidents we handle include:
- Falling from heights: Falling from a roof or scaffolding;
- Tripping or falling: Construction sites are filled with debris, imperfect surfaces, holes, ditches, tools, building material and numerous other items that, if not stored properly or warned of, create a host of tripping and other hazards to the people who work them.
- Electrocution: Construction sites generally are in close proximity to high-voltage power lines, which if left loose or close to the ground can create an electrocution hazard resulting in severe burn or even fatal injuries.
- Forklift accidents: Injuries involving forklifts can range from people being hit or run over by a forklift or the forklift operator sustaining an injury due to an accident involving this common type of construction vehicle.
- Backhoe accidents: Excavators can cause serious injuries if not operated correctly.
- Heavy equipment accidents: Many different types of large construction equipment weighing thousands of pounds routinely operate at construction sites, including cranes, bulldozers, loaders, steamrollers and crawlers. Accidents involving these vehicles can be severe given the sheer size of them.
- Chemical accidents/spills: As noted in many construction projects, dangerous chemicals may be used or stored; which may leak or run-off into public areas. In some cases, even the slightest exposure to the fumes, or bodily contact may result in a burn or injury;
- Power tool accidents: Saws, drills, nail guns and other power tools can cause serious or fatal injuries. Sometimes, a co-worker is the victim. Other times, it’s the people operating such devices. Either way, we can help you get your life back on track.
- Burn injuries: Burn injuries at construction sites can occur many different ways, including injuries caused by chemical burns, explosions, blow-torches, fire, scalding water and coming into contact with hot water or heating pipes.
Causes of construction accidents
Construction accidents in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, D.C. and Virginia are most frequently caused by employees who are under-trained and overworked, and a lack of attention to safety by managers on-site. Faulty equipment, crowded construction sites, and tight deadlines often cause companies to cut corners, compromising the safety of their workers and the public. When builders are faced with a project that may come in over budget, or are running behind, the first thing they usually cut back on is safety because of the increased pressure to get the job done quickly, which results in greater danger.
Some of the most common causes of construction accidents are:
- Faulty equipment or tools
- Crane collapses
- Building or trench collapses
- Explosions and/or fires
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Falls on and over loose debris
- Poorly constructed retaining walls or railings
- Negligent management
- Inadequate training and safety instruction
- Failure to enforce rules on safety equipment such as use of helmets or lanyards
- Violations of safety rules established by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and other agencies.
When builders and property owners make unrealistic demands of their workers, fail to provide necessary safety equipment, or don’t take the time to train them or make the work site safe, they can and should be held responsible for any injuries that arise because of their negligence and shortcuts.
We can help you pursue a workers’ compensation claim
Construction companies are well aware of the risks that come with construction work. That’s why they are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect you if you are injured. If you are injured on the job, you must file a workers’ compensation claim to obtain medical and lost wage benefits. This is a “no-fault” system, meaning it doesn’t matter who caused your construction accident – it only matters that you were at work when it happened.
This process is more complicated than it seems. Many injured workers face long processing delays or even outright denials of their claims. When you have suffered a severe injury, it is crucial that you receive compensation as soon as possible to pay medical bills and make up for lost income. The legal team at the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick can help you file an accurate, airtight workers’ compensation claim. If you already filed a claim that was denied, we will help you counter it with an effective appeal.
The downside of the workers’ compensation system is that you can’t file a personal injury lawsuit against your direct employer, even if they caused the accident. However, if a third party is liable for your injuries, then you can file a personal injury claim against that party.
Liability in construction accident cases
A wide range of parties (contractors, laborers) and dangerous pieces of equipment are usually involved in a single construction project, which means that construction accident claims often involve multiple responsible individuals and companies. If you have been injured in a construction site accident, the following parties can potentially be held responsible for your injuries and losses:
- Construction site owners: Owners and developers of the site have a duty to warn “invitees” (anyone invited on the site for business purposes) of any dangerous conditions. However, since construction site/property owners are not always deemed the persons in control of the site during a construction project, they may be excused from this obligation for the duration of the construction project.
- Design architects and engineers: These individuals have a duty to ensure safety at a construction site in that their design and building plans meet proper safety codes and engineering standards.
- General contractors and sub-contractors: These individuals are also obligated to provide a safe working environment, warning employees and the public of potential hazards at the construction site. Contractors are also responsible for training workers to ensure they comply with all safety regulations and providing adequate safety equipment e.g. hard-hats, safety belts. They are also required to inspect the site regularly for dangers as to not put employees and members of the public at risk.
- Manufacturers of construction machinery: If construction machinery is defective in any way, the manufacturer and/or supplier can be held responsible under product liability law.
- Insurers: These parties are responsible for covering all of the costs incurred as a result of construction site injuries. Insurance coverage for a construction project usually includes premises liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and other forms of liability protection. Each party involved in the construction project usually has a separate insurance contract.
If you were injured because of dangerous condition caused by work at a construction site or road project, contact our firm.
Building strong legal cases for you
Victims of Construction Accidents: Victims of construction accident fall into two categories; the workers on the site and members of the public who come in contact with a danger created or caused by the work and sustain an injury.
Bystanders and/or members the Public: As with any other type of negligence or danger that results in a serious injury a bystander not associated with the work can sue all of the potential responsible parties involved, both the general and sub-contractor, and the owner of the property or project, without limitation. Injured workers, on the other hand, may be limited.
Injured Workers: In most cases, workers injured on the job have to go through the workers compensation system. Even though workers’ compensation may be the injured workers only remedy, you should know that there are some exceptions to the rule that allow the worker to bring a separate negligence lawsuit, particularly when another contractor’s firm or employee created the hazard or caused the injury. These claims may result in a much greater recovery to the injured worker, but they are on a case by case basis and are very limited cases.
In Maryland and Virginia, the prime contractor and anybody in the chain of command of the prime generally have immunity under the “statutory employer” rule. Therefore, if the (sub)contractor or its employee that caused your injury is under the umbrella of the general or prime contractor’s normal scope of the project, the sub-contractor will have the same immunity from a negligence lawsuit. However, if the subcontractor or party who caused the injury does not fall under the chain or umbrella of the prime, the injured employee may be able to sue it for negligence. For example, you might be able to take legal action against the company that manufactured the chemical, substance or product that caused your injury if the product was defective or dangerous, or the trucking or delivery company that did not properly load or unload heavy materials as these activities do not fall under the prime’s normal scope of work.
These are just a few examples of ways injured construction workers can obtain financial compensation for their injuries over and above workers compensation. Again, it’s case by case, and we can help.
In the District of Columbia, the statutory employer rule does not apply, and therefore the injured employee may be able to sue any party, except his direct employer, including the prime contractor who caused or contributed to his accident and injury, while at the same time claim workers’ compensation. The prime has an overarching duty of safety that cannot be passed on to somebody else.
These differences are why it’s so important to contact a construction accident attorney who knows the distinctions in construction accident law in Rockville and throughout the surrounding area. Find out more about all your legal options. Contact our law firm and schedule your free case evaluation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
- What types of injuries are usually sustained in construction accidents?
- Why do I need an attorney for my construction accident case?
What types of injuries are usually sustained in construction accidents?
Injuries at construction sites are often serious, sometimes resulting in wrongful death. Our clients have suffered a wide range of construction accident injuries, including:
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Burn injury
- Broken bones
- Trip and fall injuries
- Loss of limbs
- Chemical exposure
- Loss of vision or hearing
- Back and neck injuries related to heavy lifting
The amount of compensation you are able to recover will depend on the type and severity of your injuries. The more your injury interferes with your ability to work and earn a living, the more benefits you may be entitled to through workers’ compensation, and the more damages you can seek in a negligence lawsuit against the responsible party.
Why do I need an attorney for my construction accident case?
Construction accidents often involve multiple liable parties and different layers of negligence. Injured workers can file a workers’ compensation claim to receive benefits, but this process is more complicated than it looks and, as noted above, certain rights to bring a lawsuit may be limited. Many victims experience delays or even outright denials of their claim. Additionally, many people do not realize that a third party not working for or part of their company may have been partially to blame for their construction accident. We will perform a complete investigation into your accident to identify everyone who is responsible. If we discover that one or more third parties (e.g. an equipment manufacturer or sub-contractor) were responsible for your injuries, we will file a third-party lawsuit to hold them accountable.
Filing a third-party construction accident lawsuit by the injured worker
Even though employers are protected by the workers’ compensation system (immunity via the statutory employer rule), you may still be able file a lawsuit against any third-parties who were liable for your injuries. “Third-parties” are other people or companies who may be responsible for your accident. These parties may include:
- Manufacturers of defective machinery
- Distributors of defective machinery
- Engineers and design architects
- Other contractors or tradesmen on the same project
- Delivery companies
- Inspection companies
Since workers’ compensation often limits the amount of compensation you can receive, a third-party lawsuit is often the only way to receive compensation for the full financial impact your injuries have had on your life.
Experienced Maryland construction accident lawyer
With over a decade of experience as a construction and insurance defense lawyer, Stuart L. Plotnick has a detailed understanding of both sides of construction accident cases, giving him unique insight into the many complexities and legal technicalities that govern construction accident cases.
If you have been injured in a construction accident, don’t try to handle your claim alone. While you focus on recovering, we will focus on pushing your claim through the workers’ compensation system and investigating your accident to identify any third parties that are liable. You can trust us to give your case the personal attention and expert resources it needs to succeed.
Contact our Bethesda construction accident lawyer today
Please contact the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC today to schedule a free case evaluation with our experienced Bethesda construction accident lawyer. Mr. Plotnick represents injured construction workers throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C.