According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 5,333 workers died on the job in 2019. One-fifth of them (1,061) were in the construction industry. On average, more than 100 workers a week, or 15 a day, suffer fatalities on the job.
The construction industry, with its use of heavy equipment and machinery, scaffolding, toxic substances, and sometimes precarious work heights and surfaces, is often rife with dangerous conditions that can lead to injury and death.
OSHA maintains various safety standards that those in the construction industry are expected to follow, and the agency keeps a running online tab of incident investigations it has conducted. So far in 2021, the site lists causes such as “fatally crushed by collapsed concrete slab,” “struck by a motor vehicle,” “died in fall from deck,” “electrocuted while installing fiber optic cable,” “crushed between trailer and wall,” and many other causes.
The site lists only fatalities, but for every death, there are many other workers who suffer injuries at construction sites. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are approximately 150,000 construction site accidental injuries every year.
If you or a loved one has been injured – or worse, lost their life – at a construction site in or around Kansas City, Missouri, or in Kansas City or Overland Park, Kansas, contact Denning Law Firm, LLC immediately. Our attorneys are experienced in investigating and handling claims for personal injury and wrongful death. We will provide you with personalized legal guidance and strong advocacy in any claim you have.
Though it has dropped the section from its website, OSHA used to list what it called the “Fatal Four” causes of construction industry deaths, which it said accounted for 58.6 percent of all construction-related fatalities. The “Fatal Four” are:
Falls (accountable for 33.5% of construction worker deaths)
Struck by object (accountable for 11.1% of construction worker deaths)
Electrocutions (accountable for 8.5% of construction worker deaths)
Caught in/between (accountable for 5.5% of construction worker deaths)
OSHA still lists the Top 10 Most Commonly Cited Standards Violations, which is different from the leading causes of fatality. Four of the 10, however, do pertain to falls (numbers 1, 4, 5, and 7). The most commonly cited standards violations are:
Fall Protection (construction)
Hazard Communication Standard (general industry)
Respiratory Protection (general industry)
Scaffolding, general requirements (construction)
Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout) (general industry)
Powered Industrial Trucks (general industry)
Fall Protection, Training Requirements
Eye and Face Protection
Machinery and Machine Guarding (general requirements)
According to the website ConstructConnect, the occupations most prone to construction site fatalities are general laborers (293 deaths in 2019), followed in order by: supervisors of construction and extraction workers (136), roofers (111), carpenters (99), electricians (68), equipment operators (62), painters and paperhangers (42), pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters (40), highway maintenance workers (21), and structural iron and steel workers (18).
Most construction site injuries are covered by workers’ compensation, which is a no-fault system. In other words, neither employer nor employee can generally be held liable for an accident. The employer – in this case, often a contractor or subcontractor – and their workers’ compensation insurance coverage should pay for medical expenses related to the injury and for wages lost while recovering.
However, since construction sites often have more than one crew working at a given time, there is the possibility of a third party causing the accident. For instance, an operator of a vehicle working for one contractor runs into a worker for another contractor and causes an injury. In this case, a personal injury lawsuit could be filed against the third party.
Another example of a third-party claim would involve malfunctioning machinery or equipment. If the malfunction causing the injury is due to a defect in design, a flaw in the manufacturing process, or a lack of proper operating and safety instructions, then a personal injury claim might also be possible.
For a wrongful death claim, you will also have to prove a third party (the driver example) or a defective product led to the fatality. Workers’ compensation coverage in both Kansas and Missouri typically pays benefits to surviving family members if a worker dies on the job, so you cannot file a lawsuit if your deceased loved one was receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
In both Kansas and Missouri, surviving family members are able to file wrongful death lawsuits. The standard generally is that if the deceased person had survived and been eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit, then the surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Again, this is usually only possible if a third party’s negligence or a product defect caused the injury that led to the fatality.
In a personal injury lawsuit, you can claim not only economic damages – the cost of medical care and lost wages – but also non-economic damages such as for pain and suffering. If you previously filed a workers’ compensation claim, the insurance company will likely require you to repay them from the proceeds of your lawsuit for any benefits received, past, present, and future.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, you can claim damages (compensation) for medical treatment leading to the loved one’s death, lost wages, funeral and burial expenses, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of future financial, household, and emotional support.
If you or a loved one has been injured on a construction site in Kansas City, Missouri, or Overland Park and Kansas City, Kansas, contact Denning Law Firm, LLC immediately. If there is evidence of a third party responsible for the injury, we can investigate and file a personal injury lawsuit if warranted. We are dedicated to fighting for your rights and obtaining the just compensation you deserve. Reach out today.