Seattle residents will not soon forget the horrifying sight of a crane collapsing onto a busy street in South Lake Union. Since that deadly construction accident killed two workers and two bystanders, experts have suspected that a potential cause of the tragedy was a common, and unsafe, practice that some operators use to save time when disassembling a crane. Whatever the ultimate conclusion about what caused the deadly accident, however, Seattle residents cannot help but wonder how many of the area’s many other construction sites hide similar, hidden risks for catastrophe.
Crane collapses are just one of many accidents that can happen on construction sites, which are high-risk, dangerous places under even the best of circumstances. That is why the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries oversees and enforces detailed regulations for construction worksite safety.
Despite the work done by state regulators and code enforcement officers, however, unsafe conditions and preventable accidents occur on construction job sites more often than they should in the Seattle area. Victims of those accidents—often workers who sustain severe or fatal injuries through no fault of their own—need strong, determined legal representation to ensure they recover every penny of compensation they deserve and to which they are entitled under Washington law.
If a construction accident in the Seattle area has seriously harmed you or a loved one, then you may have legal rights to recover substantial sums of money not just through workers compensation but also from other parties, too. Contact the skilled construction accident attorneys at Boohoff Law today to learn more.
Contact us today – call (877) 999-9999 or email us. We’re available 24/7!
About Boohoff Law Construction Accident Attorneys
Attorney Tatiana Boohoff is relatively new to the Seattle area, but she is not new to fighting for the rights of injured victims of someone else’s careless or reckless conduct on a job site. Founded in Florida more than a decade ago, Boohoff Law recently relocated to the Seattle area, bringing an unmatched reputation as the go-to team of advocates for personal injury victims to the Pacific Northwest. Attorney Boohoff graduated from Boston University School of Law, one of the country’s best law schools. With that background, she had her pick of jobs in the legal world, and chose to devote her career to helping victims of catastrophic accidents and their families. More than anything, Boohoff Law takes pride in its commitment to standing toe-to-toe with the biggest corporate defendants and insurance companies, ready to do what it takes to recover the fair compensation every one of the firm’s injured clients deserves.
Construction Accidents Pose a Constant Risk to Workers and the Public
Everyone who works in the construction industry knows that putting up a building or laying a road is dangerous work. Construction sites play host to a vast collection of potential risks: high heights, heavy machinery, unsteady structures, massive raw materials, open flames, caustic chemicals, toxic fumes, explosions, buried power lines… the list goes on and on and on. Employers in the construction industry have well-established obligations to reduce the risks of construction injuries by taking safety precautions and training employees to use equipment.
- Falls. Falling from heights is an ever-present concern on construction sites. Workers have no choice but to spend time on roofs, girders, and scaffolding high above the ground. When safety equipment fails or employers fail to provide it, falls happen and cause massive injuries.
- Crushing accidents. Construction projects involve large, heavy materials and equipment. It takes just a moment of inattention or carelessness for a machine to impact a person’s limb or for a pile of material to collapse on top of a worker.
- Electrocution. Workers on construction sites have to contend with the constant danger of accidental contact with live power lines, either overhead or buried. There is also always a danger of faulty wiring within an existing structure. Any contact with a live wire risks death or severe burns.
- Exposure injuries. Constructions sites are home to a wide variety of chemicals, some of them extremely hazardous to human health if workers fail to take proper breathing and skin-protection precautions and/or do not know the dangers associated with a specific substance.
- Collapse/faulty design. Workers on construction jobs rely on the skill of others to ensure the structure they’re building has adequate engineering and design to be safe. In cases in which someone on the design and engineering side fails to do an adequate job, it’s workers who face the greatest risk from a collapse.
These are just some of the accidents that can happen on a construction site, of course. When multiple people doing multiple risky jobs and working for multiple different employers all come together to build a structure, there are many, many points of potential failure and carelessness that can cause a dangerous condition and a severe injury. No matter how your construction accident unfolded, if you have suffered harm as a result of someone else’s poor decisions or careless conduct, then you likely have rights to compensation.
Common Construction Accident Injuries
Because of the high risks on a construction site, workers regularly face the potential for serious and fatal injuries. Many of these injuries can render workers permanently disabled, making it impossible for them to return to work. They include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI). TBIs typically result from blows or jolts to a worker’s head. Hard hats can limit the risk of TBI from falling objects, but they cannot eliminate it, and they also cannot prevent a TBI in a fall from a high height. TBIs can leave victims with permanent cognitive and motor deficits.
- Spinal cord injuries. When a high fall or crushing accident severs the nerves in the spinal column, the result is often permanent paralysis. Spinal cord injury victims often have to re-learn basic life functions, and face a permanently-altered existence.
- Burns. Severe burns on construction sites can happen in a variety of ways. Caustic chemicals can burn unprotected skin. Open flames or electric arcs from welding torches, and high temperature spatter, can burn welders and bystanders. Flammable materials can explode. And burns can happen from accidental contact with live wires. No matter how burns occur, they can cause agonizing, life-threatening injuries that sometimes take years to treat.
- Crushed or amputated limbs. Heavy objects and machinery can sever or crush a limb, causing the victim permanent injury (if the victim survives the trauma of the accident). Workers who sustain these injuries usually cannot ever return to work.
- Long-term health complications. Exposure to toxic or caustic substances can cause serious long-term health impacts, increasing workers’ rissk of deadly diseases, respiratory ailments, and cognitive impairments.
When severe, construction accident injuries can require a lifetime of medical care and treatment. The best way to figure out how much financial support you or your loved one needs to recover, as much as possible, from a construction accident is to speak with an experienced construction accident attorney.
The Role of Workers’ Compensation in Construction Accidents
Construction accidents can injure anyone on or near a construction site. But the vast majority of victims of construction accidents are construction workers. In Seattle and across Washington State, workers generally have the protection of mandatory workers’ compensation insurance, which pays for their medical care for injuries suffered on the job, and may also cover certain lost wages and other expenses. In theory, the workers’ compensation system makes it straightforward for injured workers to find and pay for doctors, and get back to work. In practice, pursuing a workers’ compensation claim can confuse even the most diligent worker, especially when a claim gets denied in part or in-full.
The receipt of workers’ compensation benefits limits the injured employee’s right to seek other compensation from his or her employer. But, it does not necessarily prevent the injured worker from seeking compensation from other parties who may have caused a construction accident. Speaking with an experienced Washington State construction accident attorney is the best way to determine the role workers’ compensation may play in your case.
Common Damages for Construction Accident Injuries
Subject to workers’ compensation laws, the law of Washington State entitles victims of construction accidents to seek compensation from those who caused their injuries. Generally speaking, the law there are two broad categories of damages a construction accident victim might recover: economic (or “special”) damages, and non-economic (or “general”) damages.
Economic damages pay a victim and/or victim’s family for the out-of-pocket costs resulting from the construction accident and injury. Economic damages for construction accident might include:
- Unreimbursed medical bills;
- Chronic or long-term care costs;
- Assistive medical devices, prosthetics, and home modifications;
- Physical therapy;
- Lost wages from time off from work while recovering or helping a loved one recover; and
- Lost income or employment opportunity due to injuries or permanent disabilities.
Non-economic damages pay for the effects of a construction accident that don’t necessarily have a fixed dollars-and-cents value, such as:
- Pain and suffering;
- Damage to personal relationships (a.k.a. loss of consortium/companionship/parent-child relationship); and
- Negative impacts on quality of life.
Unlike some other states, in Washington non-economic damages are capped by law at a maximum of 43 percent of the average annual wage in Washington (an amount set by law) multiplied by the construction accident victim’s life expectancy at the time of the injury (which is a minimum of 15 years). Washington law does not typically allow for punitive (or exemplary) damages.
Construction Accident FAQ
The construction industry is among the most prominent industries in the U.S. It is also one of the most hazardous and fatal industries. Based on a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,066 construction worker fatalities took place in one recent year, the highest fatality rate in more than a decade. This is not really surprising since the kind of work needed and the dangers of the construction trade typically create a higher risk of injuries than what workers in other occupations usually face.
If you or a family member suffered injuries due to a construction accident, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about construction accidents to help you learn more about injury claims.
Why Are Construction Sites Very Hazardous?
Residential and commercial construction sites are inherently more dangerous than almost all kinds of work environments. Construction zones are typically busy with lots of workers, heavy equipment, and loud tools that create a dangerous and noisy environment. All workers, foremen, project managers, supervisors, general contractors, subcontractors, and developers, etc. are responsible for ensuring and maintaining the safety of everyone in the workplace to avoid the risk of accidents.
Are Workers’ Compensation Insurance Benefits Enough or Should I Consider Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
The government requires certain employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance to help make certain that injured workers will have the funds to cover their medical costs and wage losses for injuries incurred while working. The catch here is that employers also have protections under workers’ comp rules. This means that injured employees won’t be allowed to sue their employers.
Unfortunately, workers’ comp benefits may not always suffice to cover a worker’s losses, especially in cases that involve serious injuries. Likewise, it provides even less compensation for family members that have lost their loved ones in a construction accident. A personal injury lawyer will be able to determine third parties that may also be liable for the accident that resulted in your injuries so that you can seek adequate financial compensation to cover all your damages.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Construction Accident Claim?
Plaintiffs have the right to recoup damages for past and future:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages, but only if the liable party’s negligent actions are bad enough
In the event of wrongful death, the worker’s surviving family members may pursue compensation to cover the financial losses stemming from the decedent’s death. Family members may likewise recover damages for emotional distress due to loss of the decedent’s care, comfort, companionship, mentorship, and guidance.
What If My Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Fortunately, you’re more in control of the circumstances if your employer does not have workers’ comp insurance coverage. Remember that providing workers’ comp to employees protects employers from getting sued for on-the-job injuries. But since your employer doesn’t have workers’ comp coverage, you are legally entitled to file a lawsuit against your employer, just as you would other defendants. This also means that you can recover more compensation because you’re not limited to the coverage limits of workers’ comp coverage.
I’m Already Collecting Workers’ Comp Insurance Benefits. Will I Still be allowed to Sue Liable Individuals or Entities?
Yes. However, you will need to establish that the negligent conduct of another individual or entity (other than your employer) in your workplace caused your injuries. Do note, though, that your employer’s workers’ comp insurance provider might also be entitled to recover some or all the money they paid out to you from the other liable parties you are planning to sue.
Your lawyer will help determine other parties whose negligence caused the accident and resulting injuries. These third parties could include vendors, the site developer, subcontractors, manufacturers, visitors, delivery drivers, distributors, or suppliers of defective equipment or tools that workers utilize in the construction site. Finding out which parties you can sue and recover compensation from will require a thorough review and investigation of the accident that led to your injuries.
I Got Injured While Visiting or Passing by a Construction Zone, Do I Have a Construction Accident Case?
Yes, you may be entitled to file a claim against the property owner, contractor, or other individuals liable for the accident. Your lawyer will need to investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident to figure out if someone in the construction site could have reasonably predicted the issue in the site that would have led to injury to other people.
I’m a Subcontractor Who Suffered Injuries. Can I Recover Compensation?
The site developer, general contractor, or property owner might be a part of your construction accident claim if you got injured as a subcontractor while working on a construction site. In general, property owners have a legal duty to make sure that the construction site is reasonably safe for everyone. But this duty could likewise extend to the site developer and general contractor or any other entity or individual that handles the site’s safety procedures.
Do I Really Need a Lawyer for a Construction Accident Case?
Yes. It’s generally wise to at least discuss your case with a lawyer with experience handling construction accident injuries to determine whether other liable parties are involved.
The laws surrounding these types of cases are immensely complex, and you will require a skilled lawyer who will:
- Obtain evidence and carefully investigate the accident to help prove and strengthen your case
- Give you sound legal advice throughout the entire process
- Advocate for you in court
- Negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance providers
- Make sure that you meet all the required deadlines and filing requirements
- Calculate a compensation amount that is commensurate to your damages and help secure the compensation you deserve
What if I Don’t Have Money to Hire a Lawyer?
The majority of personal injury lawyers work with their clients on a contingency fee basis. This means that payment for fees does not happen until the lawyer wins your case and secures compensation for your losses through a court verdict or settlement.
Contact a Construction Accident Attorney Right Away
Construction accidents often cause instant chaos in the lives of victims and their families. Because most victims of construction accidents are workers, an injury often cuts off the family’s income. Even if workers’ compensation replaces some of that income, it’s typically less than what the worker would have earned, and they still need to fight to get the claim approved. In the meantime, victims and their families suffer enormous strain.
During that period of extreme stress, it may not be the first thing on anyone’s mind to call a construction accident lawyer. But the sooner victims and/or the family members contact an attorney, the better off they usually will be, for at least the following reasons:
- The general statute of limitations on personal injury claims in Washington is three years from the moment of the accident. That might seem like a lot of time, but as time passes it becomes increasingly difficult for lawyers to collect the evidence they need to make a case for injured clients. Speaking with a lawyer as soon as possible gives the lawyer the best chance to build the strongest possible case for maximum compensation.
- Insurance companies will not wait to try and limit the rights of construction accident victims and their families. In fact, they will try to take advantage of this period of extreme stress to convince victims to accept inadequate settlements of their claims. Let an experienced Seattle construction accident lawyer handle discussions with an insurance company instead, while you and your family focus on recovering from the construction accident and putting your lives back together.
Call Boohoff Law if a Seattle Construction Left You Injured
Tatiana Boohoff and her team of legal professionals at Boohoff Law have spent years standing up for the rights of injured construction workers and their families, as well as for construction accident victims generally. They spend every day delivering the highest quality legal advice to clients facing unexpected and catastrophic difficulties. They will do what it takes to make sure their clients receive every last dollar of compensation they deserve for their construction accident injuries, even if it means taking a case to trial.
Call the construction accident injury team at Boohoff Law today if an accident on a construction site has devastated your life or your family. You deserve effective legal representation so that you can recover all of the financial support you need. Contact Boohoff Law today or call us at (877) 999-9999 to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with a member of our team.
“Very professional and responsive office, personable and knowledgeable attorneys. Since the accident was such a stressful experience I was lucky to have all the personal attention and handholding they provided. My case was handled and resolved to my satisfaction in a very timely manner. I was glad to have such a good legal team in my side. Thank you Boohoff Law!”
– Inna K.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★