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Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyer

Construction workers perform one of the most dangerous occupations in the country. Rules are in place for safety at construction sites, but construction workers are often at great risk for serious injury. Hundreds of thousands of workers are injured and even killed in construction accidents each year.

If you or a loved one are involved in a construction accident, a Philadelphia construction accident lawyer at Rosenbaum & Associates is available to help.

Philadelphia Construction Accident Legal Resources:

Why Choose Our Construction Accident Lawyers?

  • We have more than 25 years of experience and will help you and your family fight to get the compensation you deserve.
  • We have recovered millions in compensation on behalf of our injured clients.
  • Our success in advocating for injury victims in Pennsylvania is recognized on a national level.
  • There are no legal fees if you do not recover compensation.

Philadelphia construction accident lawyer

Why You Need a Construction Accident Lawyer

Some workers in Philadelphia can only collect workers’ compensation benefits, while others can recover damages separate from their employer, including other contractors or subcontractors, while also qualifying for worker’s compensation benefits.

Construction accident cases can be very complex. Hiring lawyers who have years of experience in investigating construction accident claims is a must. In addition there are unique theories in construction cases and all possible avenues of recovery should be explored. Hiring an experienced Philadelphia construction accident attorney is strongly advised. These knowledgeable attorneys can sort through the accident claim investigation reports and find information vital to your case that a less experienced attorney might overlook. The list of defendants may be extended to include manufacturers, designers, architects, and subcontractors.

How Much is My Construction Accident Claim Worth?

The value of each construction accident case varies based on its unique factors. As a result, a precise answer cannot be given as to how much your claim is worth, but construction accident cases are known to result in as much as five-figure to multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts. Although there is no exact figure that you are guaranteed, here are a few of the main factors that can impact your case’s value.

Total Damages

Damages is the legal term for the compensation awarded to victims as reimbursement for your losses. Therefore, the higher your damages or losses, the higher the value of your case. Damages are often awarded in construction accident cases for:

  • Current and future medical care (e.g., acute care, hospitalizations, surgeries, doctor visits, prescriptions, rehabilitation, physical therapy, adaptive medical equipment, etc.)
  • Current and future lost income
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Permanent disability/ disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium
  • Wrongful death (e.g., funeral and burial expenses, lost income, services, etc.)

These damages are available when an injured worker pursues a personal injury lawsuit but not through their workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation claims only cover medical care, lost income, and permanent disability.

When awarding damages, the court will consider:

  • The type and severity of your injuries.
  • Whether your injuries are permanent.
  • Whether your injuries were pre-existing, and if so, if they were made worse.
  • The amount, types, and costs of medical care you have received and will need in the future.
  • Whether there were any gaps in treatment, and if so, why?
  • Your past lost income.
  • Whether you are expected to return to work.
  • Any restrictions on your daily life.
  • How your life has changed and been impacted.
  • Your spouse and/or children’s losses suffered due to your injury.

Your claim will be worth much more if your injuries have had a devastating impact on you and your family’s lives—compared to, for example, an injury that is expected to heal completely within six weeks.

Liability and Strength of Evidence

If a third party is 100% to blame for your construction accident and there is evidence to prove it, your claim’s value can significantly increase. Unlike workers’ compensation claims, work injury lawsuits are based on fault. On the other hand, if liability is unclear or you were partially to blame (e.g., not wearing a hard hat, reading a text, not paying attention, etc.), then Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence rule will apply. Under this law, an insurance company or jury will assign each party a percentage of fault that will reduce your compensation accordingly.

For example, if you are awarded $500,000 but a jury finds you 40% at fault for your accident, you can only recover 60% of your award or $300,000. However, the state adds another component to this rule. If you are found 51% or more to blame, you cannot recover any compensation. Because of this law, many insurance companies engage in bad faith tactics to avoid liability and place the blame on you.

Whether You Hire an Attorney

One factor that is critical to the value of your case is whether you hire an attorney experienced with construction accident cases. Research shows that injury victims who hire an attorney recover three and a half times more in compensation than those that don’t. Even if the insurance company offers you a settlement, this amount is often much lower than your claim’s actual value and is just their attempt to resolve your case quickly. By hiring an attorney, the insurer will know there is a threat of a lawsuit, which can motivate them to take your claim seriously and settle for a fair amount.

Other advantages to hiring an attorney include their resources and ability to:

  • Gather critical evidence of fault to prove liability and the cause of your injuries.
  • Hire accident reconstruction experts to prove how the accident occurred.
  • Hire medical experts to testify to the extent of your injuries.
  • Collect statements from any witnesses.
  • Gather necessary documentation to prove the value of your claim.
  • Negotiate or fight in court for fair compensation.

Most attorneys take construction accident cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you will not owe any legal fees unless you win. As a result, there is no out-of-pocket risk for having highly skilled representation who will ensure the at-fault party is held accountable

Common Causes of Construction Accidents

Construction accidents occur for a variety reasons including the following:

  • inadequate supervision;
  • defective equipment;
  • negligent blasting and tunneling procedures;
  • collapsed wall and roof;
  • dropped loads;
  • crane and aerial lift overturns;
  • collapsed scaffolding;
  • unprotected holes, floor openings, and open stairways;
  • improper scaffolding procedures;
  • improperly handled gases or chemicals
  • access areas not maintained;
  • insufficient systems to prevent fall;
  • insufficient bracing or support of concrete structures.

Types of Construction Accidents

Construction accidents can be caused by several factors. Below are some of the more common:

Scaffolding Failure and Falling Accidents

Scaffolding accidents in Philadelphia are a primary cause of construction site accidents and deaths. Assembly and maintenance of scaffolding is often performed negligently. Scaffold related accidents number 10,000 or higher annually and have multiple causes. Plank or supports failure is common, as is being hit by falling objects and slipping. Injury due to falling from scaffolds accounts for one quarter of construction worker deaths.

Crane Accidents

Crane-related accidents account for numerous injuries annually. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that approximately 50 deaths annually are due to crane accidents. Contact between cranes and power lines is common. Crane accidents are also due to crane assembly or crane dismantling (12%), rigging failure (7%), boom buckling (8%), and crane upset and crane overturning (7%).

Welding Injuries

Welders are exposed to a variety of on-the-job hazards. For example, the ultraviolet radiation generated by the electric arc in the welding process can cause severe burns to the skin and lens damage to the eyes. Philadelphia workers who use flame cutting equipment are also exposed to infrared radiation, which can cause thermal burns. In addition, the intense light associated with welding, cutting, and brazing can produce a variety of eye problems, including damage to the retina.

Toxic Exposure and Explosions

Construction projects in Philadelphia often use various types of compressed gas that can be quite dangerous. Potential for accidents due to mechanical and chemical hazards is high. Gases can be combustible, flammable, explosive, poisonous, corrosive, or toxic. Flammable gases can explode or cause or spread fire. The threat of asphyxiation, poisoning, and suffocation exists due to presence of toxic gases. In addition, because compressed gases are contained in pressurized metal containers, special storage and handling procedures must be followed to avoid a potential detonation of the container.

Available Damages in a Construction Accident Claim

Victims injured in construction accidents caused by another person or company’s negligence may be entitled to the following types of compensation:

  • Total lost wages and benefits (workers’ compensation only covers a small portion)
  • Loss of future income and diminished earning capacity (for the difference in the income you can earn now compared to before the accident)
  • Current and future medical expenses related to the injury, including hospital stays, surgeries, doctor’s appointments, physical rehabilitation, prescription medications, home modifications for disability, etc.
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Punitive damages (in cases involving extreme recklessness)

Pennsylvania does not have laws in place that limit the amount of compensation an injured worker can recover unless the defendant (at-fault party) is a government agency or employee.

Philadelphia construction injury lawyers

How Much Time Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim for a Construction Injury in Pennsylvania?

The most important deadline for a personal injury claim after a construction injury is the statute of limitations. Under this Pennsylvania law (42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5542), victims have only two years to file a personal injury lawsuit related to a construction accident. As long as you still have the right to bring a lawsuit, the at-fault party’s insurance company will likely consider your claim. Most insurers would instead settle a case than risk a lawsuit, so there are times that they will accept a claim months or even a year after an accident.

What Happens If I Miss The Statute of Limitations to File a Construction Accident Claim?

If the two-year statute of limitations has passed since your construction accident, your right to file a lawsuit is gone forever. The defendant (at-fault party) and their legal team can file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and point out the fact that the statute of limitations has expired. Unless an exception applies to extend the deadline, your case will almost certainly be dismissed. Here are two situations that may “toll” or delay the standard deadline.

  • The injured person is a minor (under 18) and wasn’t legally emancipated when the accident occurred. The statute of limitations will not begin to run until they turn 18. (42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5533)
  • Before a lawsuit could be filed, the defendant was outside of the state of Pennsylvania for more than four months or concealed themselves under a false name. The time they were gone or in hiding will likely not be counted towards the two years. (42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5532)

In all other cases, there is usually no way around the statute of limitations. Once the deadline passes, you have lost the ability to recover compensation for your injuries, no matter how significant they may be.

Construction Accident Liability

Pennsylvania workers are generally not able to sue their employers because workers’ compensation provides benefits for work-related injuries regardless of fault. However, there are some exceptions. If, for example, you believe your employer’s actions intentionally caused you harm, your employer violated OSHA safety regulations or does not have enough workers’ compensation insurance to cover your injuries, you have the right to sue.

Most construction accident claims are filed against third parties in conjunction with a workers’ compensation claim. Third-party claims can be pursued against parties who are not your employer but may have contributed to the accident. A property owner, contractor, product manufacturer, maintenance company, or architect, for example.

Who Is Responsible for a Construction Accident?

Who is responsible for a construction accident can be challenging to determine since multiple parties may be involved and on-site. However, the following parties are often named in third party liability lawsuits:

General Contractor, Construction Manager, or Subcontractor

These parties are legally obligated to provide a reasonably safe construction site for workers and warn of any hazards with or where the work is being performed. Since several contractors may work on a construction site at a time, if they or one of their workers’ negligent actions caused or contributed to your injury, then they may be liable.

Property Owners

Property owners also have a duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for construction workers on their premises. Since they have control over where work is being done, if they knew of or should have known of a hazard and failed to fix it, they may be liable for resulting injuries.

Design Professional

Professionals such as engineers and architects in charge of designing what is being constructed have the responsibility to ensure their plans are not defective. They must also verify the project meets safety codes. Any failure to meet design safety standards that results in an accident, the architect or engineer may be liable.

Product Manufacturers and Suppliers

If defective equipment or materials are responsible for a worker’s injury, the parties involved in the product’s distribution chain, such as the manufacturer or supplier, may be liable.

Workers’ compensation law protects employers from being sued for an injury, except in limited circumstances—such as intentional harm, gross negligence, or inadequate workers’ compensation insurance.

When determining which parties are liable for a construction accident, the following factors will be considered:

  • Location: Where the injury occurred can be critical to liability since construction workers often perform various job duties in many areas.
  • Construction Site Conditions: The party responsible for maintaining the job site may be liable for an injury if the site was not correctly upheld to OSHA‘s rules.
  • Condition of Equipment: If any equipment was involved in the accident, it will be examined for defects and/or a lack of maintenance.
  • Proper Use of Equipment: If a worker was misusing equipment when you were injured, they might be liable.
  • Site Management: Who was in control over the site and equipment at the time of the accident. Any error by a supervisor could mean they are the liable party.

Proving a Third-Party Claim

In a third-party liability claim, the burden of proof falls on the injured worker. You will have to prove another party’s negligence resulted in your accident by demonstrating the following:

In a third-party liability claim, the burden of proof falls on the injured worker. You will have to prove another party’s negligence resulted in your accident by demonstrating the following:

Duty of Care

A duty of care must have existed between you and the defendant. For instance, general contractors have a duty to ensure construction sites are reasonably safe and warn workers of potential hazards.

Breach of Duty of Care

The defendant violated their duty of care by failing to prevent foreseeable harm. In other words, they behaved unreasonably when compared to what a reasonable person would have done under the same circumstances—for instance, failing to warn workers of a known danger.

Causation

The defendant’s violation of their duty of care directly caused you harm that would not have occurred otherwise. For example, a worker was injured by a site hazard that was not an obvious danger, and the general contractor failed to warn of it.

Damages

The final component is damages. To have a case for compensation, you must have suffered losses such as medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc.

Proper and thorough investigation can be the difference in a successful claim. Timely investigation of the accident is the key to identifying and prosecuting construction accidents in Philadelphia. The investigation may include interviewing witnesses, obtaining photographs of the accident location before there are any changes, obtaining copies of the work site plans and of the contracts between the General Contractor and the subcontractors, obtaining copies of any safety manuals used by the General Contractor and the subcontractors, working with construction site experts to establish who was at fault for the accident. Since early investigation and legal intervention is important you should obtain legal assistance immediately.

Contact Our Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers

If you would like more information please contact a specialized Philadelphia construction accidents lawyer at Rosenbaum & Associates online or call for a Free Case Evaluation. Our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Related practice areas: Personal Injury, Fire and Explosions, Nerve Damage

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