Articles Posted in Construction accidents

Two important types of injury insurance most working Americans should have are: Workers’ compensation and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. The first provides no-fault coverage of medical bills and lost wages in the event one is injured on-the-job. The second provides coverage for the wrongful acts of negligent drivers who don’t have enough insurance to cover the full extent of an injured person’s medical bills and other losses. forklift

In cases where both types of coverage apply, plaintiffs need to know that they are not entitled to double recovery. That is, they can’t collect compensation for medical bills from the workers’ compensation insurer and then also collect and keep it from the UIM carrier. Most insurance policies contain some type of offset provision whereby benefits are reduced by the amount paid to the insured by a legally liable third party. In some situations, insurers might assert something called “subrogation rights,” which means if you collect duplicate benefits from a third party, the insurer can file for a lien to collect those benefits.

It’s important when you have suffered an injury that may allow you to collect from multiple insurance companies that you hire a law firm with extensive experience. Failure to do so may result in missing out on certain benefits or being forced to repay benefits already collected from a third party. Continue reading ›

A worker injured in a construction accident first and foremost should seek workers’ compensation benefits, if applicable. Assuming the worker was an employee acting in the course and scope of employment, the benefits should be delivered quickly and assist with medical bills and lost wages. However, such benefits likely won’t cover everything, and exclusive remedy provisions of workers’ compensation law typically disallow lawsuits against employers, even if they were negligent. That’s why third-party litigation is often a must.


On construction sites, there are many individuals and entities that may have certain safety responsibilities, and it’s important to ascertain whether any of those may have failed in their legal duties of care.

In the recent case of Schaefer v. Universal Scaffolding & Equipment, LLC, plaintiff came upon a major challenge in pursuing claims against two defendants owing to the fact that the reportedly defective piece of scaffolding that struck him in the head, causing serious injuries, was lost. Plaintiff filed claims for construction negligence, failure to warn and negligent spoliation of evidence.  Continue reading ›

A construction contractor in Florida has been slapped with $200,000 in fines by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration for repeated, serious and willful violations related to unsafe fall protection and ladder safety practices. Although it’s likely this fine will be reduced upon settlement (which is how most of these cases end), the fact is, falls remain one of the most serious – and common – preventable risks on Florida construction sites. constructionsite1

That’s why it’s not really surprising that, according to, numerous Florida construction firms have been fined for these violations in recent weeks. Those include:

  • A roofing company in Jacksonville cited for fall protection violations for the fourth time just in the last 12 months. The St. Augustine contractor has been fined $128,000.
  • A large home-building company with operations in South Florida was cited for violations in North Florida that involved failure to ensure a carpentry contractor was using the right fall protection measures while they were working at a height that exceeded 25 feet. The subcontracting workers were also using the very top step of a ladder to reach the roof trusses – which is extremely dangerous and counter to what we know about safe ladder practices.
  • A Miami contractor was fined $53,000 for failing to train workers and exposing them to openings that dropped more than 18 feet.
  • A contractor in Jacksonville was fined $145,000 for failure to properly extend a ladder and allowing workers to install roof sheathing without using proper fall protection.

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When a construction injury occurs, the first line of compensation the worker and/or the worker’s family may have is workers’ compensation. These benefits are often a vital lifeline for injured workers and their families to help assist with medical bills and a portion of lost wages. hardhad1

However, in more serious cases, it’s often not enough to compensate a worker for the full extent of his or her losses, especially if the injury has long-term consequences. In these situations, the worker may want to explore third-party litigation.

A worker cannot sue his or her employer for a work-related injury in most cases. The exclusive remedy clause of workers’ compensation law prohibits this (and it’s part of the “grand bargain” trade-off workers made when the workers’ compensation system was first founded). However, third parties may still be liable. On construction sites, that could mean general contractors, property owners or in some cases fellow subcontractors. But these cases can quickly become complicated, and it’s not often clear which entities held what duty of care and to whom.

The Florida Supreme Court has struck down a 2003 legislative change to state workers’ compensation law arbitrarily cutting off temporary total disability benefits after 104 weeks, opting instead to reinstate the previous law, which allowed such benefits to be paid out for a maximum of five years. worksign

The ruling was a huge victory for injured workers in Florida, who have been victimized by numerous efforts to whittle away their workers’ compensation protections.

Of course, that has not been a trend unique to Florida, as a recent ProPublica investigation revealed. Workers’ compensation is supposed to be a “grand bargain” between workers and their employers. It’s original intention was to reduce civil litigation between workers and their bosses by prohibiting the worker from filing an injury lawsuit against the company in exchange for expedient, no-fault benefits to cover medical bills and lost wages. But increasingly, lobbyists have successfully pressed for legislation that has tipped the scales more heavily in favor of the employers, leaving many workers struggling.

That’s why the decision in Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg was such an important one. It was actually the second of great importance before the court in as many months. Continue reading ›

The Florida Supreme Court recently rendered its decision in one of three key challenges to the state’s workers’ compensation law. gavel21

In a 55-page opinion, the court in Castellanos v. Next Door Company et al., ruled F.S. Section 440.34(1), which pertains to the structuring of plaintiff attorney fees in workers’ compensation cases, is unconstitutional and a violation of due process.

Just a week earlier, the 1st DCA issued a 26-page ruling in Miles v. City of Edgewater in which appellate justices reached the same conclusion regarding the provision that bars workers from paying retainer or hourly fees to attorneys upfront.  Continue reading ›

Another construction accident in a highway work zone in South Florida has claimed the life of a 26-year-old worker. roadconstruction

The accident happened on the Veteran’s Expressway in Tampa, late one Wednesday night, as a dump truck, driven by a 20-year-old with an 18-year-old in the passenger seat, backed south into the northbound lane. Victim was standing at the rear of the truck as it moved in reverse. He was pulled underneath the vehicle, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Decedent worked for a subcontractor on the $380 million construction project, and the driver of the dump truck worked for another subcontractor on the job. Most of the work is being carried out during overnight hours, which is a particularly dangerous time for workers at these sites, especially if there isn’t proper lighting or if others working the site aren’t properly trained. Continue reading ›

In the event of a construction accident, an injured worker may first seek legal remedy through workers’ compensation benefits, which provide immediate financial relief for job-related accidents and illnesses.electricalworker

Beyond that, there may be additional relief to be secured through a third-party lawsuit. On a construction site, these claims may be directed against the property owner, the general contractor, a subcontractor or, as in the Texas Supreme Court case of Genie Industries, Inc. v. Matak, the manufacturer of a defective or malfunctioning machine or tool.

Product liability cases stemming from construction accident injuries can be complex. The equipment with which many construction professionals work is often inherently dangerous, even when used properly. This means plaintiffs have to show the equipment was unreasonably dangerous and there is a safer design alternative to accomplish the same goal.
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Most injury-causing construction accidents involve workers. After all, they are the ones most closely working with raw materials from extreme heights and under other dangerous circumstances.
However, when a construction site isn’t properly sealed off or if adequate warning signs aren’t posted to inform the public to keep a certain distance from the site, innocent passersby may be hurt as well.

We saw this alleged in Cape Coral following a 2008 hit-and-run crash in which a 3-year-old boy was severely injured after he was struck by a pickup truck driver as the boy and his aunt ran across a construction site on Del Prado Boulevard at the north end of the city.
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A temporary laborer hired to help on a high school stadium construction project sustained serious injuries his first day on the job when a trench collapsed.
He ultimately secured a $1.15 million judgment against the paving company in a third-party lawsuit, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court recently ruled those funds can be garnished from the firm’s insurance policy.

Workers who excavate or dig in trenches are at risk of death if they enter a trench that isn’t protected and the walls collapse. It may seem a few feet of dirt isn’t that dangerous, but consider that a single cubic yard of dirt can weigh more than 3,000 pounds. That’s enough to easily suffocate or fatally crash a worker. Between 2000 and 2009, more than 350 workers in the U.S. were killed in trenching and excavation cave-ins. Hundreds more were seriously injured.
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