With the forward momentum of the economy, and new residential and commercial construction springing up all around, construction accidents will continue to be an unfortunate byproduct of prosperity. This week, the National Law Review published a blog post examining a specific type of accident uniquely specific to construction work sites—scaffolding accidents and injuries.
According to June statistics published by the Bureau of Labor, construction employment in the Los Angeles area was up 4.7 percent from the previous year. In San Diego, construction employment was up 6.6 percent. Sadly, more construction can mean more injuries.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), 65 percent of the construction industry works on scaffolds—an estimated 2.3 million workers. DOL stats put the number of scaffolding related deaths in the private sector at 60 each year. A study conducted by the BLS found that 72 percent of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the accident to either planking or support giving way. These types of accidents can lead to serious injuries resulting in years of pain and lost wages. In some cases, the negligence of others is to blame.
What If I’m Injured In a Scaffolding Accident, Fall or Collapse? Who’s Responsible?
Third Party Manufacturers and Installers
The complexity of determining who is at fault in a scaffolding accident is a good reason why a experienced injury attorney should be consulted. However, in some cases scaffolding improperly installed or manufactured by a third party (not your employer) can lead to injuries, and worse.
Sometimes it is possible for a worker injured in these instances to sue these third parties in a premises liability case. As pointed out in the National Law Review, it may also be possible for an injured worker to recover damages in cases where a manufacturer properly built a scaffold, but a third party installed it improperly.
Property Owner Liability
In some cases, a scaffolding issue isn’t the fault of the employer, the scaffolding manufacturer, or the installer. Construction sites are often located on properties owned by businesses or homeowners separate from the employers. Scaffolding accidents can result from an unsafe property conditions caused by the business’s or homeowners’ negligence. In some cases, it may be possible for the victims of an accident or their families to recover damages.
When considering the types of situations in which a property owner would be responsible in a scaffolding accident, one must consider that property owners have a duty to protect the safety of visitors to their properties.
California Civil Jury Instructions § 1001 state that a property owner is negligent if he or she “fails to use reasonable care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition.” The instructions further state that a property owner must use reasonable care to “discover any unsafe conditions and to repair, replace, or give adequate warning of anything that could be reasonably expected to harm others.”
To be clear, what constitutes reasonable care isn’t always easy to discern. However, a good lawyer will help the client understand the circumstances of their case, and whether or not they should proceed with a lawsuit against a property owner after a scaffolding accident.
If the scaffolding accident is not the fault of a 3rd party or landowner, it may be the responsibility of California’s workers compensation system to remediate. Be sure that if you are injured in a scaffold accident, contact a personal injury lawyer to discover the direction in which you should take your case.
Finding Answers To Your Questions
Because of the complexity of workplace issues, as well as the complexity of the laws regulating the workplace, it’s always a wise decision to discuss any questions you might have about an on the job injury with a lawyer. After a scaffolding accident, it is well worth the time spent to schedule a consultation to find out what your options might be.