Construction is well known as one of the most dangerous occupations. And despite advancing technology, the numbers tell us that conditions for workers haven’t gotten much better in recent years. In 2019, there were 11.4 million workers employed in the U.S. construction industry, a 25% increase over 2011. Yet, fatal injury rates rose an astounding 41% between 2011 and 2019.
The safety of those who use heavy machinery to help construct the buildings, roads, and infrastructure that make Chicago, IL is not always prioritized by those who profit from their labor.
When a worker suffers a serious injury because of someone else’s negligence, a construction accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can help recover compensation. Injured construction workers have the right to the maximum compensation they need to afford medical expenses and reestablish order in their lives—especially if that worker suffers brain injuries or spinal cord damage.
Construction Accident Victims Have Rights
You may feel at a loss. But you have options. Seeking help through the Illinois workers compensation commission or by filing a third-party claim or lawsuit are legal avenues to getting your life back. We can help you pursue those legal options.
Construction Accident Facts and Figures
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recorded a total of 4,764 fatal work injuries in 2020. This means that a worker died every 111 minutes from a work-related injury. Nearly half (47.4%) of those fatalities occurred in the construction and materials moving occupation sectors.
In 2019, roughly 19,790 construction laborers were injured to the point that they needed to take time off work to recover.
A February 2021 report from the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), a nonprofit dedicated to reducing construction worker deaths and injuries, showed a number of disturbing trends in the construction industry over the past decade.
- In 2019, the number of fatal construction injuries reached 1,102, the highest level since before 2011.
- Hispanic construction workers have suffered a 90% increase in workplace deaths since 2011—compared to an only 55% increase in employment rates during the same period.
- Roughly two-thirds of all construction accident deaths are caused by the Focus Four: falls, struck-by accidents, electrocutions, and caught-in/between accidents.
- Construction site falls from roofs, ladders, and scaffolds continue to be one of the top causes of construction worker deaths. Falls from spiked roofs increased by over 28% between 2018 and 2019.
- The number of struck-by fatalities rose 7.6% from 2011 to 2019, the majority involving falling objects or equipment.
Chicago and Illinois Construction Accident Statistics
According to BLS Statistics, the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metropolitan area has the 5th highest number of construction workers of any urban area in the country.
Construction workers are defined as those who perform physical labor at construction sites, including cleaning and preparing sites, digging trenches, setting braces, erecting scaffolding, cleaning waste, and operating hand and power tools, air hammers, earth tampers, cement mixers, small mechanical hoists, surveying and measuring equipment, and other equipment.
The following Illinois construction accident statistics give a better picture of the dangers laborers in our state face.
- Construction accidents are the 2nd leading cause of workplace deaths in Illinois, following the transportation and material moving occupational group.
- In Illinois, transportation-related incidents account for 41% of all fatal work injuries.
- Falls/slips/trips were the second most frequent cause of workplace fatality in Illinois in 2020.
- Illinois had a higher rate than the national average for worksite accidents caused by all three of the top factors: transportation accidents, falls, and violence.
What Are the Most Common Construction Accidents?
Construction laborers are often tasked with working in extreme conditions, including in high temperatures, at towering heights, and with powerful machinery. When negligence results in injury, it’s critical to determine why and how the accident happened.
Workplace fatalities in the public and private construction industry can most often be attributed to the Construction Focus Four. The Construction Focus Four, as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are:
- Caught-in or -between accidents
- Struck-by accidents
These four types of construction hazards cause more deaths on worksites than any other factors. As such, construction managers have an elevated obligation to provide training, equipment, emergency protocol, and resources that protect workers from these dangers.
These “fatal four,” as they are sometimes called, are not the only types of accidents that cause serious injuries on Chicago construction sites. According to OSHA, the most common types of construction accidents include:
The majority of construction accidents are related to transportation, i.e. car crashes or truck accidents. Road construction workers are especially vulnerable to being struck by a vehicle on the job site. These types of road construction accidents often result in broken bones, crushed limbs, organ damage, paralysis, or fatality.
Violence by Persons or Animals
Whether an animal is left unrestrained on property where laborers are working, or human aggression leads to injuries, these types of incidents should always be prevented through effective management and safety protocol.
Contact With Objects and Equipment
This category often comprises struck-by or caught-in and -between accidents. Machinery that malfunctions or is used improperly can result in a worker losing a limb, their vision, or their life. But not all of these accidents are caused by improper machine use. If manufacturing company negligence led to the sale of a defective product, your Chicago construction accident attorneys may be able to help you file a third-party claim against the company.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
An estimated 36% of construction injuries occur when a worker falls. This can cause damage to the spine, back, neck, or head, including traumatic brain injuries. When working on roofs or scaffolding at construction sites, workers need access to proper safety equipment that can prevent them from falling. Slip and fall accidents can also result from spills, debris, and objects left lying in working areas.
Exposure to Harmful Substances or Environments
It’s not uncommon for construction workers to be exposed to dangerous chemicals. If this happens over a long period of time, and they do not have the proper protection, they could develop an occupational disease.
Fires and Explosions
When working with wiring or any situation involving flammable substances, all workers must understand what precautions to take to avoid starting a fire or getting burned.
While the construction accidents above are the most common, that is not where the list ends. No matter what type of accident you’ve experienced, a Chicago construction accident attorney can evaluate your situation and determine if there are grounds for a claim.
Steps To Take Immediately After a Construction Site Injury
If you sustained injuries on a job site from a fall, structural collapse, electrocution, or any other construction site hazard, there are steps you should take to protect yourself and your future.
Seek Medical Attention
First, it’s imperative for all construction accident victims to seek immediate medical attention. No one should refuse medical care if it’s offered at construction sites. Whether victims receive treatment at the job or not, they should go to the hospital to get treatment and ensure all construction site injuries are properly documented.
Report the Construction Accident
Right away, report the accident to the construction site supervisor so they can file a mandatory report with OSHA and other authorities.
Even if a regulatory authority doesn’t find that the construction company violated any safety regulations, reporting the incident ensures there will be an official record of the accident that their insurance company can refer to. The information can also be used to determine what the company needs to do in the future to ensure worker safety at their construction sites.
Illinois workers’ compensation cases are unique in that there are specific reporting requirements that apply, including that you must make a report within 45 days. Injured workers may lose their right to workers’ comp benefits unless they follow set protocols when handling their cases.
Contact a Law Firm of Chicago Construction Accident Attorneys
Once you’ve sought medical treatment and reported the incident to your supervisor, you’ll want to get in touch with an attorney and have them fully explain your legal rights and options. Before your meeting, be careful not to do anything that could jeopardize your right to compensation. Don’t agree to give a recorded statement, and don’t agree to the first settlement offer from an insurance company without speaking to a lawyer first.
Frequently Asked Questions About Construction Accidents
If you suffered injuries while working on a construction project, your mind is likely filled with questions. We’ve compiled a few common FAQs about worksite injuries and legal options for recovery. If you would like to discuss your individual case in detail, please contact Thomas Law Offices to schedule your free case evaluation with a Chicago construction accident attorney.
What Do Illinois Workers’ Compensation Benefits Cover?
Filing an Illinois workers’ compensation claim gives you access to benefits like wage replacement equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage. The full list of benefits and requirements can be found in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
While workers’ compensation laws cover many employees in the state, not all individuals employed in the construction industry are eligible for such benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits are often reserved for employees and not independent contractors.
Furthermore, even those eligible for workers’ comp benefits may be limited in what they can receive. It may or may not be enough to cover their losses. A lawsuit filed with the help of an attorney can help recover losses like pain and suffering, future medical bills, lost income, emotional distress, and more.
Am I Eligible To File a Lawsuit Against an Employer?
Workers’ comp laws in Illinois protect employers from lawsuits. Under most circumstances, it is not possible for injured victims to sue employers.
But if your construction injury was caused by third-party negligence, it may be your legal right to seek compensation from that party. For example, a negligent manufacturing company, a non-employee site manager, or a subcontracted worker may be responsible for your injuries. A personal injury lawsuit can allow you to recover a more comprehensive settlement that addresses non-economic damages like emotional anguish and pain and suffering, damages that are not covered by workers’ comp benefits.
A Chicago construction accident attorney from Thomas Law Offices can meet with you to discuss your eligibility for legal action.
What if a Family Member Was Killed in a Construction Accident?
If you lost a loved one to fatal construction accident injuries, your family may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. This not only helps your loved one get justice, but it can also prevent future instances of wrongdoing and alleviate the financial burden left by their sudden passing.
What if the Accident Was My Fault?
Many construction accident victims worry that if they contributed to the accident, they can’t receive benefits. We want to assure you—even if your actions played some role in your construction injury, this does not obstruct your right to obtain compensation.
In both workers’ comp and personal injury claims, you may still be entitled to benefits even if you were partially or wholly responsible for the accident. An experienced lawyer will need to examine the circumstances of your incident to determine your rights.
What if I Was Injured Just by Walking Past a Construction Site?
Construction projects can be dangerous to those in the surrounding area. Construction managers and foremen have a duty to protect not just the workers but also pedestrians and others nearby. If you were involved in a serious construction accident case but were not a worker at the site, you may still be eligible to seek compensation for your losses. We can assist you with the process of obtaining compensation.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Construction Accident Claim in Illinois?
Because construction site accidents arise from different factors, there is a possibility that multiple parties could be held accountable for your catastrophic injuries. For example, construction equipment accidents can be caused by manufacturer error, defective design, an untrained operator, or a subcontracted laborer acting recklessly.
Some of the most common responsible parties include:
- Construction companies
- General, sub, and prime contractors
- Property owners
- Insurance companies
- Manufacturing companies
Do I Need a Lawyer To Handle a Chicago Construction Accident Case?
Handling a legal claim after a construction site accident is hard, time-consuming work. A construction accident attorney can help you:
- Determine legal options for financial recovery
- Gather evidence to support your claim
- Negotiate a settlement with the insurance company
- File paperwork, meet deadlines, and handle communications
How Do Illinois Construction Accidents Occur?
We’ve seen again and again how worksite negligence leads to injuries and fatalities. Many construction accident cases involve broken rules and regulations. Every year, OSHA’s list of the top 10 most frequently cited safety violations tells us that employers are often so eager to cut corners that they put workers’ lives at risk.
In 2020, the most common OSHA citations were:
- Inadequate fall protection
- Inadequate respiratory protection equipment
- Ladder violations
- Lack of communication about hazards
- Scaffolding failures
- Inadequate fall protection training
- Failure to control hazardous energy
- Improper face and eye protection
- Powered industrial truck violations
- Machinery and machine guarding violations
Were You Injured by an OSHA Violation?
OSHA keeps track of violations and citations when someone is injured, or a report is made. If you’ve been injured on the job and believe your site violated an OSHA regulation, you have the right to file a confidential safety and health complaint. OSHA inspectors visit construction sites to determine if the hazard is real and what should be done in response.
We Recover Compensation So You Can Afford the Care You Need
Our lawyers will help you win back full and fair compensation after a construction accident injury. Whether you are filing a workers’ compensation claim or your case warrants a lawsuit, you can be sure that we will work toward the most advantageous outcome for you.
You deserve fair treatment, respect, and the medical care you need to reach a full recovery or maximum medical improvement. We have the resources to help you get there.
If you are a construction worker who was injured on the job, contact a Chicago construction accident lawyer from our top-rated personal injury law firm today.
We can help you understand your workers’ compensation rights and how to collect additional compensation for future medical bills or lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Schedule a free consultation with our construction site law firm today to learn more.