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Construction Machinery Accidents

The days of constructing a building with nothing but a hammer and nails were over long ago. Today, construction sites are filled with equipment and machinery, some of which can cause serious accidents to construction workers as well as a passerby.

Construction Accident Statistics

According to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction is one of the most dangerous industries for a worker. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016 saw 1,034 fatalities in the industry, an increase of over 20% from 2013. Although falls are typically reported as the leading cause of death, machinery accidents also caused their fair share of injuries.

If you are injured on the job site, report the accident immediately to your supervisor and then seek medical treatment. Your employer should be informed about the accident within a short amount of time. Otherwise, you might not be covered by their workers' compensation insurance.

Dangerous Equipment and Machinery

Workplace safety has generally improved over the past few decades. However, some construction equipment can still pose a danger. Among the most dangerous pieces of equipment on construction sites are:

  • Bulldozers. These clear or move large piles of rock or dirt and can level out the ground.  Bulldozers, because of their size and power, can unfortunately also cause serious injuries if the driver loses control or if the bulldozer behaves in an unexpected manner. Bulldozers can crush bystanders or the operator could become injured by falling to the ground.
  • Hoists. Workers raise and lower loads using hoists. Accidents can happen if the chain or pulley snaps, or if the load falls to the ground, striking people below.
  • Cranes. Used to lift materials and hold structures in place, cranes can collapse, striking other people or causing the load to drop on someone.
  • Ladders. Defective ladders can send construction workers sprawling to the ground from dangerous heights.
  • Forklifts. Forklifts pick up heavy objects and transport them. If a forklift fails, it can drop the material it was lifting.
  • Nail guns. When a nail gun lacks proper locks, someone might inadvertently shoot nails, striking people.

These are only some of the dangerous pieces of equipment on a construction site. If you have been injured by equipment on a construction site, you should contact a Georgia construction accident lawyer right away to discuss your options.

Identifying Who is to Blame for the Accident

Under Georgia’s legal system, injured victims can seek compensation from the person or business that injures them. Identifying the entity responsible is sometimes easy, although you will often need to thoroughly investigate the accident to identify the correct party:

  • The equipment operator. The person operating the equipment might have made a mistake that caused the accident. For example, a bulldozer operator might have made a risky move or might have been careless in how they operated the equipment. As a result, they might be to blame for the accident.
  • The equipment manufacturer. Equipment with defects can be unreasonably dangerous, leading to collisions and other injuries. For example, the chain on a hoist might have been made from faulty materials, and this manufacturing defect caused the hoist to fail.
  • The equipment owner. Owners have a duty to make sure their machinery and equipment are properly serviced and maintained. If the equipment malfunctions, then the owner might be legally liable for your injuries.

Identifying the correct person is tricky, so you should consult with a Georgia construction accident lawyer who can investigate for you while you focus on getting better.

Deciding Who to Sue

A lawsuit starts by filing a complaint in court, naming the defendant and explaining why they are responsible for the injury. If someone was careless, then you can sue them for negligence, meaning they did not exercise proper care when using the construction machinery. However, if a defective product caused the injury, you can sue for negligence or a products liability theory.

Injured construction workers face one big constraint on bringing a lawsuit. If your employer is to blame, then you cannot sue them—regardless of whether your employer was negligent. Instead, you will need to rely on your workers’ compensation benefits, which should pay for reasonably necessary medical care and some lost wages. One big drawback of the workers’ compensation system is that it prohibits injured employees from suing their bosses in most circumstances. As a result, workers often do not receive full compensation for their injuries.

By contrast, injured workers can bring third-party claims if someone other than their employer is to blame, such as machinery manufacturers and equipment owners (if the owner is not the worker’s employer). Pedestrians and other bystanders can bring a lawsuit against anyone who is responsible because they do not fall under the workers’ compensation system.

Ideally, you should bring a lawsuit against all defendants who contributed to your injuries. In this way, you increase the chances of receiving full compensation for all of your economic and non-economic losses.

Wrongful Death

If a loved one died in the machinery accident, Georgia law allows surviving family members to bring a lawsuit for wrongful death. If successful, you can receive compensation for:

  • Lost wages and benefits. Your Georgia construction accident lawyer can estimate how much your loved one would have made had they lived.
  • Loss of care and companionship. This amount is speculative, yet you could be entitled to receive compensation.

Additionally, the estate can receive compensation for medical bills spent to treat the final illness, funeral and burial expenses, and any pain and suffering your loved one experienced after the machinery accident.

Call a Georgia Construction Accident Lawyer for Help Today

To receive compensation as part of a settlement or lawsuit, you must act quickly to document the machinery accident as well as your own injuries. Many accident victims are confused about their options and fail to protect their legal rights. By meeting with an attorney as soon as possible, you can understand your options and move swiftly protect your right to compensation.

Injured construction workers in particular benefit from meeting with an experienced lawyer who can identify whether they have a valid third-party claim against a non-employer.

If you have been injured at a job site, the construction accident lawyers at Slappey & Sadd in Atlanta want to hear from you. We will work to help you receive compensation for lost wages and pain and suffering by bringing a lawsuit. You can set up a free consultation online or by calling us today at 404-255-6677.