A necessary component of most construction sites is scaffolding, which allows workers to access to high places in a safe manner. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), almost two-thirds of construction employees work on scaffolds. Unfortunately, scaffolding accidents cause a large number of construction site accidents. At Slappey & Sadd, our Georgia construction accident lawyers are prepared to help you receive the compensation you deserve if you suffer an injury in a scaffolding collapse. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation by calling 404-255-6677.Why Scaffolding Collapses
Scaffolding should be properly set up so that it doesn’t collapse. Nevertheless, unstable scaffolding can come crashing down for the following reasons:
- The scaffolding was not adequately maintained
- The scaffolding was overloaded
- The scaffolding was not inspected
- The planking gives way
- The scaffolding was designed or manufactured in a defective manner
- The scaffolding was not installed properly
For any of these reasons (and others), scaffolding can collapse, sending workers tumbling to the ground and striking or crushing helpless bystanders who are caught unawares.Who can Suffer Injury in a Scaffolding Collapse
Many of those injured will be construction workers who are on or near the scaffolding at the time of the collapse. However, other injured victims can include members of the public. In urban areas like Atlanta in particular, scaffolding is often set up over sidewalks so that people can continue to walk along the sidewalk as a building is worked on. When scaffolding collapses, innocent bystanders can suffer devastating injuries as well.
Although injured workers can file a workers’ compensation claim, no such insurance exists for members of the public. Instead, they will bear the full weight of any medical bills and lost wages, so determining who to sue should be a priority.Construction Workers and Scaffolding Collapses
If you were injured on your job site, you should immediately seek medical attention. Also notify your employer promptly of the injury so that they can notify their workers’ compensation insurer. You have a limited amount of time to notify your employer, so do not delay.
Georgia's workers' compensation benefits should pay for all reasonably necessary medical care and can also cover a portion of your lost wages if you cannot return to work. In exchange, however, you cannot sue your employer for your injuries, even if they were negligent in setting up or maintaining the scaffolding.
This might sound unfair, but it is the way the workers’ comp system has been set up. Because you do not have to prove your employer was at fault, you can receive benefits quickly. In exchange, you lose the ability to sue for full and fair compensation.
Nevertheless, injured workers might have a third-party claim against the property owner or the scaffolding manufacturer, depending on the circumstances. If they do, then they can sue for the full extent of their injuries. To uncover whether you have a valid third-party claim, meet with a Georgia construction accident lawyer as soon as possible.Bystanders and Personal Injury Lawsuits
Members of the public face no limitation on bringing a lawsuit for their injuries. They might bring a lawsuit against any of the following:
- The property owner
- The general contractor
- The scaffolding manufacturer
- A company employing the worker who set up the scaffolding
If successful in your lawsuit, you might receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You should meet quickly with a personal injury lawyer in Georgia who can review the facts and circumstances surrounding the scaffolding collapse.Government Regulations Regarding Scaffolding
According to OSHA, scaffolding must comply with various regulations so that it is safe. For example:
- Scaffolds cannot be supported by concrete blocks, barrels, bricks, or other unstable objects
- Damaged or weakened scaffolding must be repaired immediately or removed
- Planking or platforms must overlap by at least one foot or be secured, so they don't move
- Scaffolding must be sufficiently strong to support four times the maximum load
Workers must have an access ladder that allows them to mount the scaffolding safely
When employers cut corners and ignore OSHA regulations, avoidable accidents happen. These federal regulation violations serve as strong evidence that you were injured because of someone else’s mistake.
Other evidence that can be critical to your case includes fully documenting your injuries as well as the state of the construction site after the collapse. For example, photographic evidence can sometimes point to the cause of the collapse.Scaffolding Collapses Around the United States
Construction sites around the country have suffered scaffolding collapse in the past few years, including:
- The scaffolding used by two window washers collapsed in May 2018 in Atlanta, causing an electrical explosion and a car fire.
- A scaffolding collapse in Maryland killed one person and injured another at an elementary school. The subcontractor who died fell 25 feet to the ground.
- A scaffolding collapse in Manhattan in 2017 trapped two people underneath debris. Although the accident caused no fatalities, victims were taken to the hospital to have their injuries treated.
- A 2017 collapse at a Miami television tower killed three people who were trying to install a new antenna.
- A construction worker was killed in a scaffolding collapse at the National Museum of African American Culture and History in 2015.
Because so many people work on construction scaffolds, thousands of injuries are reported each year, not including the number of innocent bystanders who are also injured in scaffolding collapses.Seek the Help of a Georgia Workplace Accident Lawyer
Scaffolding collapses can cause devastating injuries as workers fall to the ground or scaffolding material lands on bystanders and other workers. Accident victims should receive full compensation for their injuries, even if they are currently drawing workers’ compensation benefits. For these reasons, all people injured by scaffolding collapses should seek the advice of an attorney to discuss their options.
If a lawyer believes a lawsuit is appropriate, he or she can help draft a complaint to start a lawsuit and file it in the appropriate court. He might also draft a demand letter and send it to the defendant asking for a settlement. Either way, it is important that you act quickly. Georgia's statute of limitations gives you only two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit, and any delay could compromise your rights. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd today by calling 404-255-6677 or reach out online to schedule a free initial consultation.