Dallas Construction Accident Lawyer
Spotlight on Texas Construction
Texas, in its vastness, has a wide variety of construction projects. The nature of these projects and the risk of accident and injury that workers face often varies by region. Here are a few of the unique construction projects across Texas and the risks that workers may face:
- Dallas and Fort Worth: With their booming skyscrapers, workers here often grapple with the challenges of high-altitude construction amidst dense urban settings.
- Houston and Galveston: Being coastal, these areas pose unique challenges with their soft soil and flood risks, requiring specialized foundation work and posing risks related to water exposure.
- Austin: The rolling hills demand meticulous grading and present unique geological challenges.
- San Antonio and El Paso: The heat is an adversary, with workers often battling against dehydration and heat stress.
- Midland/Odessa and Lubbock: In these areas, the oil industry’s influence means more industrial construction projects with their associated risks.
- Beaumont and Port Arthur: Industrial and refinery projects predominate, posing chemical exposure risks.
The list goes on, from the unique risks of coastal constructions in Corpus Christi to the challenges of urban growth in cities like Plano and Arlington. What remains constant is the need for awareness, adherence to safety protocols, and a commitment to protecting our workforce. Knowledge is the cornerstone of safety, and understanding these risks is the first step towards safeguarding our construction community in Texas.
- Spotlight on Texas Construction
- Injured Construction Worker FAQs
- What should I do immediately after a construction accident?
- Can I receive compensation for my injuries?
- Do I have a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim?
- Can I sue my employer?
- Will I lose my job if I file a claim?
- How much compensation can I expect?
- What if I’m partly at fault for the accident?
- Can I get compensation if I’m a subcontractor or not a regular employee?
- I have pre-existing conditions. Can I still recover compensation?
- Leading Causes of Construction Fatalities
- Common Construction Accidents in Texas
- Scaffolding Collapses
- Falls from Height
- Common Projects with Fall Risks
- Construction Positions at Increased Fall Risk
- Typical Fall Scenarios
- Reasons for Falls
- Overlooked Safety Measures
- Slips, Trips, and Falls
- Struck-by Accidents
- Trench Collapses
- Machinery Accidents
- Exposure to Harmful Materials
- Overexertion and Heat-Related Illnesses
- Vehicle Accidents
- Crane Collapses
- Texas Employer Worker’s Compensation Subscriber vs. Non-Subscriber Status
Injured Construction Worker FAQs
Construction sites can be hazardous, and despite safety protocols, accidents can happen. If you or someone you know has been injured in a construction accident, you may have many questions and concerns. The following are some of the most common questions related to legal rights, compensations, and the steps to take after a construction injury.
What should I do immediately after a construction accident?
Seek medical attention first, even if you think the injury is minor.
Next, report the injury to your supervisor or site manager and ensure they record the incident.
Document the circumstances surrounding the injury by taking photos, collecting witness statements, and making notes.
Navigating the complex maze of personal injury laws that apply to Texas construction accidents can be challenging. Contact a personal injury lawyer who can guide you through the process and help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
Can I receive compensation for my injuries?
Yes, in many cases. Depending on your situation, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, third-party personal injury claims, or both. It’s essential to consult with an attorney to understand the specific avenues available to you based on your circumstances.
Do I have a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim?
Workers’ compensation is a system designed to provide benefits to employees injured on the job without needing to prove fault. However, if your injury was due to the negligence of a third party (someone other than your employer or coworker), you might have a personal injury claim against that party.
Can I sue my employer?
In most cases, workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy, meaning you cannot sue your employer for injuries sustained on the job. However, there are exceptions, such as if your employer’s actions were intentional or egregiously negligent. An attorney can guide you on this.
Will I lose my job if I file a claim?
It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If you believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated or faced retaliation due to your claim, you should seek legal advice.
How much compensation can I expect?
The amount of compensation varies based on the severity of the injury, medical expenses, lost wages, and potential future lost earnings. For personal injury claims, pain and suffering, and punitive damages might also be factored in.
What if I’m partly at fault for the accident?
Texas courts apply the “comparative negligence” rule, meaning you can still recover damages even if you’re partly at fault in causing the accident as long as your percentage of fault is 50% or less. That said, your compensation may be reduced based on your percentage of fault.
Can I get compensation if I’m a subcontractor or not a regular employee?
While traditional employees are typically covered by workers’ compensation if a Texas employer providers workers’ compensation benefits to employees by purchasing coverage through an insurance carrier, independent contractors may not be covered. A personal injury lawyer can help you evaluate workers’ compensation coverage issues.
I have pre-existing conditions. Can I still recover compensation?
Yes. In Texas, if the construction accident aggravated your previously asymptomatic condition or worsened a pre-existing condition, you may be entitled to damages. However, expect the insurance company to scrutinize the claim closely.
If you’ve been injured in a construction accident, it’s essential to consult with a personal injury lawyer. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.
Leading Causes of Construction Fatalities
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the top four causes of construction fatalities, often referred to as the “Fatal Four.” They are:
- Falls: From high-rises in urban centers to residential roofing in suburban areas, falls represent the most common cause of fatal injuries in construction.
- Struck-By Accidents: This refers to accidents where a construction worker is hit by an object, tool, or equipment. For instance, a worker could be struck by a swinging crane load or a flying piece of machinery debris.
- Caught-In/Between Accidents: Workers can find themselves trapped or crushed between equipment, structures, or materials, leading to severe or fatal injuries.
- Electrocutions: With the proliferation of power tools and electrical systems in construction projects, the risk of electrocution remains ever-present.
Common Construction Accidents in Texas
In Texas, the construction industry is vast. Given the inherent dangers of the job, constructions accidents are common in Texas. Some of the most common types of construction accidents that cause injuries in Texas include:
Scaffolding is often used to provide elevated work platforms. If not erected or maintained correctly, or if overloaded, scaffolding can collapse, leading to severe injuries to workers on or around it.
Falls from Height
Falls from scaffolding, ladders, roofs, or any elevated work area are prevalent. Improperly secured safety harnesses, faulty equipment, or lack of guardrails can lead to these accidents.
In Texas, given the variety of construction projects, certain types of construction projects and construction sites pose a heightened risk for falls:
Common Projects with Fall Risks
The following is a list of common construction projects that pose an increased risk of a fall from height to construction workers:
- high-rise developments,
- office tower developments,
- bridge constructions over highways, and
- residential roofing projects.
Construction Positions at Increased Fall Risk
Roofers scaling heights, ironworkers balancing on beams, and painters working on elevated platforms often face elevated risks of falls.
Typical Fall Scenarios
Workers frequently report falls from unstable ladders, unguarded ledges, and faulty scaffolding.
Reasons for Falls
Common oversights leading to falls include lack of proper training, failure to provide or ensure the use of fall protection gear, and neglecting to secure or inspect scaffolding and ladders.
Overlooked Safety Measures
All too often, harnesses remain unchecked, guardrails are absent or improperly installed, and safety net systems are neglected – all of which could prevent a tragic fall.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Wet or uneven surfaces, obstacles left in walking paths, and areas cluttered with debris can result in workers slipping, tripping, or falling.
These occur when a worker is hit by moving machinery, a vehicle, or a falling object, such as tools or construction materials.
Workers in trenches can be trapped and injured if the trench collapses. Proper shoring and other safety measures can prevent these tragedies.
Coming into contact with live wires or using equipment improperly can lead to electrocution. This can happen if safety procedures around electrical systems are not followed.
Construction sites often involve the use of heavy machinery. Equipment malfunctions, or lack of training on how to use the machinery, can lead to accidents.
Construction sites often involve the use of various materials and equipment that can become explosive under certain conditions.
Gas lines, flammable liquids, and chemicals can ignite if they come into contact with open flames, sparks, or even overheated equipment. Explosions can cause immediate and catastrophic harm, from severe burns to traumatic injuries from the blast’s shockwave.
The aftermath of an explosion can also pose risks due to fires, collapsing structures, and exposure to hazardous substances.
Ensuring safe storage, handling, and disposal of flammable and explosive materials, as well as proper training on emergency response, is crucial to prevent and mitigate the effects of explosions on construction sites.
Due to the use of electrical tools and flammable materials on construction sites, there is always a risk of fires.
Exposure to Harmful Materials
Workers can be exposed to harmful chemicals, asbestos, or other hazardous substances. Without proper protective equipment, this exposure can lead to long-term health issues.
These accidents happen when workers are caught in or compressed by equipment or objects, or struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structures, equipment, or materials.
Overexertion and Heat-Related Illnesses
Given the hot climate in Texas, construction workers are at risk for heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and other heat-related illnesses, especially if proper precautions aren’t taken.
Construction zones that overlap with roadways or involve the use of construction vehicles can sometimes lead to collisions or workers being struck.
The malfunction or mishandling of cranes can result in them collapsing, causing significant injury or even fatalities. Proper operation, maintenance, and adherence to safety guidelines are crucial for crane operations.
It’s paramount for construction companies in Texas and elsewhere to prioritize worker safety by offering proper training, ensuring safety protocols are followed, and providing the necessary protective equipment to minimize these risks.
Texas Employer Worker’s Compensation Subscriber vs. Non-Subscriber Status
In Texas, the workers’ compensation system operates a bit differently than in many other states. Unlike many other states, Texas employers have the option to choose whether or not to participate in the state’s workers’ compensation system. This participation status leads to the designations of “subscriber” versus “nonsubscriber.”
Subscribers (Employers that Provide Workers’ Compensation to Employees Injured On the Job)
- Protection from Lawsuits: Subscribers are generally immune from personal injury lawsuits filed by employees for workplace injuries. Instead, injured employees are compensated through the workers’ compensation system, which pays for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages regardless of who was at fault for the injury.
- Defined Benefits: The benefits an injured worker can receive are set by the workers’ compensation system, which means they are subject to caps and limits determined by state law.
- No Fault System: Employees don’t need to prove the employer was negligent to get benefits. Similarly, an employer’s defenses based on an employee’s negligence (like contributory negligence) are limited.
Nonsubscribers (Employers That Do Not Provide Workers’ Compensation to Employees Injured On the Job)
- Vulnerability to Lawsuits: Nonsubscribers lose the legal protection offered by the workers’ compensation system, making them susceptible to personal injury lawsuits from injured employees. This means employees can sue for a broader range of damages, including pain and suffering, and potentially receive more compensation than under the workers’ compensation system.
- Burden of Proof: If sued, nonsubscribers cannot argue in court that the injured worker’s negligence caused the injury if the employer’s negligence is proven to have contributed at all. This is a significant departure from typical personal injury defenses.
- Potential for Greater Financial Exposure: Given the possibility of personal injury lawsuits with potentially large verdicts, nonsubscribers may face more significant financial risks following a workplace injury.
- Alternative Plans: While nonsubscribers opt out of the state workers’ compensation system, many choose to offer alternative occupational injury benefit plans to their employees. However, these plans aren’t a substitute for workers’ compensation and don’t provide the same legal protections.
Employers who choose nonsubscriber status must notify the Texas Department of Insurance, post notices in the workplace, and inform employees of their decision not to have workers’ compensation insurance.
Deciding between subscriber and nonsubscriber status is significant for Texas employers, as each comes with its own set of advantages, responsibilities, and risks. Construction workers, in turn, should be aware of their employer’s status as it can impact their rights and remedies in the event of a workplace injury.