The U.S. Department of Labor estimates as many as 2.3 million construction workers work on scaffolding at construction sites across the nation. According to OSHA, at least 25 percent of those injured in scaffolding accidents received no safety training regarding the scaffolding and more than three-quarters of the scaffolds were not equipped with guardrails. A recent BLS study found that 72 percent of workers injured in scaffold accidents claimed the accident was a result of the planking or supports giving way, to the worker slipping and falling, or the worker being struck by a falling object.
In the state of Mississippi in 2014, construction accidents were responsible for the second-highest fatality count, with twelve fatalities. These deaths were attributed to falls, some of them from dangerous scaffolding set up at the construction site. Scaffolding accidents can occur in any situation in which scaffolds are used at a construction site—which is to say at the majority of construction sites. When scaffolding is properly set up, it can provide workers safe access to hard-to-reach locations as well as a stable working platform. When proper precautions are not taken and workers are not properly trained, accidents with serious injuries or death can occur.
Aren’t Construction Site Accidents Covered by Mississippi Workers’ Compensation?
Since these accidents occur at the job site, we would assume they will be covered by workers’ compensation, and most accidents of this type will be covered by workers’ comp. Unfortunately, for the worker who is unable to return to work for a significant period of time, workers’ comp disability benefits typically pay about 60 percent or 2/3rds of the worker’s normal salary. Many hardworking Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and having their wages cut by a third can cause serious financial issues. Depending on the circumstances, some workers injured in a scaffold accident may be able to file a third-party lawsuit to help recoup some of their actual losses.
In cases where the construction company has neglected safety rules and regulations when erecting or using scaffolding at a construction site, the contractor or subcontractor may be separately held liable in a civil action. While workers’ compensation is considered “no-fault,” in that benefits are provided regardless of who was responsible for the accident. In exchange for receiving workers’ compensation benefits, the worker may not directly sue their employer.
If a party other than the employer is responsible for the worker’s injury, however, the injured worker may pursue a separate personal injury or wrongful death claim. If the scaffolding on the job was supplied by a company other than the primary employer, and an accident ensued, a third-party claim could seek compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering and any losses above and beyond what Mississippi workers’ compensation provides.
Scaffolding must be properly designed, and must support its own weight, as well as at least four times the maximum intended load. All personnel must be trained in the proper use of scaffolding, as well as the fall protections installed on the scaffolding at each individual site. All employees who will be working on scaffolding must have the appropriate safety equipment available, such as a hard hat, a full body harness, a rope grab, independent lifeline anchors and independent vertical lifelines. Most often, scaffolding accidents happen when the contractor, foreman or site superintendent attempt to cut corners in order to save time and money.
Most Common Scaffolding Injuries
Scaffolding injuries are usually very severe. The most common types of injuries sustained from a fall off a construction-site scaffold include traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, including paralysis, injury to internal organs, serious fractures and severe lacerations. If you have been seriously injured in a scaffolding accident or if your loved one was killed in a scaffolding accident, speaking to a Mississippi personal injury attorney who has experience in third-party workers’ compensation claims could be extremely beneficial to your future.
If you or someone you love has been injured on the job, it is important to understand your legal rights and how to collect all of your worker's compensation benefits. At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys fight aggressively for injured employees and their families – to ensure that they receive the money they need to fully recover. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at (601) 265-7766 or (601) 265-7766.
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