Articles Posted in Construction Accident

Generally, in personal injury lawsuits filed in Massachusetts, the plaintiff will assert a negligence claim against the defendant. A core element of negligence is duty; absent proof that the defendant owed some obligation to the plaintiff, a plaintiff’s negligence claim cannot prevail. Duties typically arise out of the relationships between the parties, but they can arise under a statute or regulation as well. Recently, a Massachusetts court analyzed what duty a general contractor owes an employee of its subcontractor in a case in which the court ultimately determined that no duty was owed. If you sustained injuries in an incident brought about by someone else’s negligence, you could be owed compensation, and it is in your best interest to confer with a Cape Cod personal injury attorney regarding your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Injuries

It is alleged that the plaintiff was working as a framer on a construction project when he fell from a scaffold, injuring his leg and foot. The plaintiff, who was employed by a subcontractor, brought negligence claims against the general contractor. The parties waived their right to a jury trial, and a bench trial was conducted. After the plaintiff presented his case, the defendant moved for involuntary dismissal pursuant to Rule 41(b)(2). The trial judge granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Duties General Contractors Owe to Employees of Their Subcontractors

On appeal, the appellate court noted that the trial court granted the defendant’s motion on the grounds that it did not owe any duty to the plaintiff. In Massachusetts, four elements comprise negligence: a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, a breach of the duty, actual harm, and a connection between the harm suffered and the defendant’s breach. Continue Reading ›

Most people are at least vaguely aware that there are deadlines for filing a claim in a Cape Cod work injury case. The particulars of those procedural rules, however, are not as widely understood. As the following case indicates, sometimes the statutes of limitations can even be a matter of dispute, due to the unique facts of a given case.

If you or someone in your family has been hurt at work, it is best to talk to a lawyer right away. A knowledgeable work injury attorney will talk to you about the details of your accident and advise you of the procedure for protecting your claim and your legal rights.

Waiting too long to take legal action can result in total forfeiture of an otherwise valid claim, so it important to understand the necessary steps in your particular case. It is important to note that, while there are general statutes of limitation for workers’ compensation cases, the circumstances of your particular case may alter that general timeline. This is especially true in cases involving product injury, injuries out of state, and accidents that were caused by the negligence of a governmental entity.

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Workers’ compensation laws are designed to protect those who are hurt at work. However, different situations in the workplace can result in different outcomes. For example, someone who was working as an independent contractor may have a harder fight when attempting to seek payment for an on-the-job injury than a “regular” employee.

If you have been injured at work, you should understand both your legal rights and your own responsibilities, such as the giving of timely notice. Understanding what is required of both you and the entity for whom you were working at the time of the accident is important as you go about seeking the compensation to which you are entitled.

Please keep in mind that, even in the age of COVID-19, there are deadlines for filing claims. Failure to take timely legal action on a Cape Cod workers’ compensation injury case will likely mean that your right to pursue compensation will be deemed waived.

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Construction site accidents are common in Cape Cod and elsewhere in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, legal claims arising from these types of on-the-job injuries can be more difficult to pursue than more traditional workers’ compensation cases.

One reason for this is that those in the construction industry may be injured by someone other than his or her direct employer. A particular individual might also be working as an independent contractor. In such a situation, workers’ compensation may not be available, and the injured person’s only remedy may be to filed a negligence suit against the person or company who he or she believes caused the accident.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was construction worker who was severely injured when a porch roof where he was working collapsed and caused him to fall about 12 feet to the ground. The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendants, a contractor on the construction project, a trustee (the property where the accident happened was apparently owned by a trust rather than by an individual or corporation), and the person responsible for the maintenance of the property, seeking payment for his medical expenses of approximately $1.3 million, along with other damages resulting from the fall.

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Typically, a worker who is hurt on the job is limited to benefits available to him or her under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws. However, there are a few limited circumstances under which a third party may be liable in tort for the employee’s injuries.

One of these circumstances arises when a defective product was to blame for the worker’s injuries. Additionally, in some cases, the general contractor on a construction project may also be liable for the injuries of a subcontractor’s employee.

Of course, liability is never automatic, and these defendants – like most defendants who are facing the payout of a substantial verdict due to another person’s injuries – usually fight hard against a finding that they are legally responsible.

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When an employee is injured due to a work-related accident, the employee may be entitled to several forms of workers’ compensation benefits. These include medical care at the employer’s expense, temporary disability benefits, and, in cases involving more serious injuries, permanent disability benefits.

Of course, the burden is on the employee to show that he or she is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeals was called upon to determine whether an employee who had been receiving benefits due to a work injury was still disabled because of the accident that happened on the job or whether something else was to blame for his ongoing disability.

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Trial judges can sometimes reach different outcomes in cases involving similar issues, such as those involving workers’ compensation disputes and subrogation liens filed by insurance companies.

In a recent case, the state’s highest court was faced with two cases in which trial judges had rendered very different decisions in cases involving basically the same issue. It was up to the high court to reconcile the lower courts’ decisions and provide guidance to those facing similar issues in the future.

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Workplace injury cases can be complex. Depending upon the facts of the case, a person injured on the job may be entitled to benefits beyond those awarded by the Department of Industrial Accidents. Although there are limitations on the usual workers’ compensation benefits overseen by the Department, lawsuits against third parties who caused or contributed to an employee’s injuries are not subject to the same rules.

For example, if a worker drives as part of his or her job and is injured in a car accident while in the course and scope of employment, the worker may be able to file a traditional personal injury lawsuit against the person who caused the wreck. (If the suit is successful, the employer may be entitled to an offset of any monies paid to the worker.)

In a recent case, an injured governmental employee sought benefits beyond that which were awarded by the Department. Unfortunately, he waited to late too file suit and lost part of the money to which he would have otherwise been entitled.

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The Cape Cod Today reported that a construction worker survived a 30-foot fall from scaffolding while working at Willowbend Country Club in Mashpee. According to reports, the worker had suffered head and back injuries, but his condition was unknown.  The man fell while working at the pool area of the club, and was later transported to a MedFlight helicopter and flown to a hospital in the Boston area.  Accidents at construction sites can cause serious, life threatening injuries and sometimes even death.  If you or someone you know have been injured in a construction site accident, it is important to contact a local Cape Cod personal injury attorney to help you recover for any resulting economic loss and pain and suffering.

Due to the nature of the profession, construction industry safety is a big concern.  In 2011, an estimated nine million workers in building, heavy, and special trades construction were at risk for fatal and non-fatal injuries.  In fact, the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), reported that in 2011, there were 4,114 worker fatalities in private industry.  Of that number, 721 deaths or 17.5% were in the construction field.  This comprehensive report also states that the leading causes of worker fatalities on construction sites were falls, followed by electrocution, being struck by an object, and then “caught-in/between.”

These causes — known in the construction industry as the “Fatal Four” — were responsible for nearly three out of five, or 57%, of construction worker deaths that year.  The percentage breakdown for each one is as follows: falls accounted for 251 total deaths or 35%; electrocutions – 67 deaths or 9%; struck by an object – 73 deaths or 10%; and caught-in/between – 19 deaths or 3%.  OSHA indicates that if the construction industry could eliminate the fatal four, 410 workers’ lives would be saved in the United States every year.  Further, OSHA lists the most frequently cited violations as involving items such as scaffolding, fall protection, hazard communication, respiratory protection, control of hazardous energy, electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, powered industrial trucks, ladders, electrical systems design and machine guarding.

For some good news on non-fatal injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s annual survey of occupational injuries and illnesses, the incidence rate of injuries and illnesses in the construction private industry sector decreased from four cases per 100 full-time workers in 2010, to 3.9 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2011.

Overall these are troubling statistics. The Cape Cod man who was injured in the fall from scaffolding at the local country club may be able to receive compensation for medical bills and lost wages under workers’ compensation coverage. If his injuries were caused by defective equipment, subcontractor, general contractor or employer negligence, he may be entitled to file a claim against one or more of these third parties.   In order to properly evaluate whether you have a viable negligence claim and for how much, it is necessary to contact a local injury attorney who is well versed in the laws and procedures concerning construction site accidents.

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