Construction Accident Lawyer in Portland
Anyone who has ever worked on a construction site in Oregon understands that there are certain inherent safety risks. No matter how safe a general contractor thinks its job site is, there is always the potential for serious – even fatal – injuries to workers.
Indeed, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 1 out of every 5 workplace-related fatalities occurs on construction sites. That represents nearly 1,000 construction workers killed.
Victims of construction site accidents may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover both medical treatments and lost work. Families of construction workers who suffered fatal injuries may be entitled to death benefits through workers’ compensation. Our experienced construction accident lawyer can help you pursue the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.
Causes of Construction Accidents in Portland
OSHA and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) have identified four primary causes of fatal construction site accidents. As OSHA explains, these “fatal four” causes accounted for 631 construction site fatalities in a single recent year.
The fatal four cases, in order of descending fatalities, are:
- Falling from heights – Obviously, construction requires employees to frequently work at significant heights, often on scaffolding and ladders that may not be 100 percent safe. BLS attributed more than 38 percent of all construction deaths to falls from ladders, scaffolding, and other heights.
- Object strikes – Dropping a tool in an office is generally no big deal. But dropping a tool on a job site from 10 or 15 stories above the ground creates a projectile that can seriously injure someone working on the ground or a lower level. The same holds true for falling debris or materials that may accidentally strike a worker.
- Electrocutions – The unfinished nature of a construction site means there are a lot of exposed wiring and electrical systems. Coming into contact with a live power line, even for a split second, can produce a fatal electrical shock or otherwise cause serious damage to a worker’s body.
- “Caught in-between” injuries – OSHA and BLS broadly classify construction site injuries that involve workers getting “caught in” or “in-between” large objects. For example, a worker may be injured when a foot or arm gets caught in a machine. Or to take a more extreme example, the worker may be crushed and killed when a building or part of the job site collapses.
While the “fatal four” causes represent the majority of fatalities, there are other types of construction accidents that may be less fatal but are still capable of seriously injuring a worker. These causes include:
- Slip-and-fall accidents – Aside from the potentially fatal risk of falling from heights, seriously injuries such as head injuries, back injuries, and broken bones can often occur. There are also the more common slip-and-fall injuries that arise when workers trip over a stray piece of equipment, fall in a hole, or simply fail to look where they are going, for example.
- Heat stroke and overexertion – Manual labor is not easy. It often requires long hours in extremely hot conditions. This can easily lead to dehydration and heat stroke, as well as other overexertion-related injuries, such as carpal tunnel, and pulled or strained muscles.
- Motor vehicle accidents – There are a large number of vehicles on an active construction site, including heavy cranes and trucks used by individual work crews. It is far too easy for a worker to be struck and seriously injured by a careless vehicle operator.
- Fires and explosions – Beyond the risk of electrocution due to exposed wiring, there is also the potential for a dangerous fire or explosion if gas or other utility systems are not properly handled.
What to Do If You Were Hurt in a Portland Construction Accident
The first – and most critical – thing to remember is that when it comes to construction site accidents, you report everything. Do not try to be a hero and work through an injury. This does not help either you or your employer.
A workplace accident, no matter how minor it may seem at the time, should be immediately reported to your supervisor. You should also seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you don’t think you have been seriously hurt, you should not return to work until a doctor has cleared you.
The second thing to remember is that if you have sustained a construction site injury that requires medical treatment or requires you to lose time off from work, you should be covered by Oregon workers’ compensation law. Workers’ compensation can pay all of your medical costs – including doctor visits, hospitalization, and rehabilitation – as well as two-thirds of your pre-injury average wages for as long as you cannot work. Additionally, if you suffer a permanent impairment, such as the loss of a body part or function, you may be entitled to additional disability benefits.
Can I Seek Damages Against Third Parties for a Construction Site Accident?
Workers’ compensation is considered an “exclusive” remedy against your employer under Oregon law. This means that in exchange for receiving guaranteed no-fault benefits – it does not matter who caused the accident – you cannot seek damages against your employer outside of the workers’ compensation system. However, this limitation of liability does not extend to third parties, such as the owner or general contractor of a construction site, or other subcontractors working on the project, for example.
In other words, let’s say you are employed by a subcontractor to work on a construction site. One day you fall off a ladder and break your leg. You receive workers’ compensation benefits from the subcontractor that employs you. But you may also have a cause of action against a second subcontractor who was responsible for installing the ladder, as well as the general contractor who failed to properly supervise that subcontractor. In addition, if the ladder itself was defective, you could have a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
Get Legal Help Now from a Construction Accident Attorney in Portland
Sorting out all of these potential legal claims may seem overwhelming, especially if you are in the midst of recovering from a serious construction accident. And that assumes that your own employer does not wrongly deny your workers’ compensation claim.
If you have suffered any kind of serious accident while working on a construction site and need advice from an experienced Portland workers’ compensation lawyer, contact the Law Office of Jodie Anne Phillips Polich, P.C. today.