Construction Site Accidents Are Becoming Increasingly Common

by Tony Francis
Construction site accidents are becoming more common. But is workers' comp law keeping pace?

Construction site accidents and related injuries are bound to receive additional scrutiny as Obama Stimulus disbursements jumpstarts additional 2009 construction projects under federal auspices. But lax safety procedures during the Bush Administration tenure also appear to have contributed to a substantial increase in such events since 2000. The increase in construction site accidents might have even begun to rise in the early 1990s.

Consider that in 2008, one in four workplace fatalities were construction workers. There were 1,225 fatal occupational injuries in 2001 involving a construction site; by 2008 that figure had risen to 2,889.

Examples of such tragedies are common.

* 55-year-old carpenter struck by a drunk driver while working on The Big Dig in Boston, multiple serious injuries resulting.
* 50-year-old union iron worker in Philadelphia fell down a darkened stairway when a temporary lighting system failed, multiple serious injuries resulting.
* 22-year-old self-employed roofer fell 25' off a sloped roof in Naples, Florida, permanent paralysis resulting.

Because only about 10% of construction companies employ more than 20 workers, most have no formal job safety regulations or programs in place.

In 1992, the "lost-workday" rate for workers in the construction industry was 5.7 per every 100 fulltime workers. In 2007, that rate had increased to 9.6 per 100 fulltime workers, an increase of nearly 40% making it the highest such rate of any major economic sector.

Yet jury verdicts in construction site accidents tend to produce modest settlements in favor of construction workers and other public sector workers compared to those accidents (less than $250,000) which involve non-workers (more than $500,000), even if the construction workers' injuries were quite horrific. This discrepancy may partially be linked to a pro-corporate, pro-business trend in the weakening of workers' compensation statutes which has been occurring in most "right-to-work" states since about 1990. In some cases, salaries of attorneys representing injured workers have been deliberately "capped" by state legislatures, possibly affecting the quality of legal counsel afforded to workers, especially those in the construction industry. A blatant example of such legislation is HB903, a measure passed on May 1, 2009, in Florida.

About the Author

Tony Francis is an Orlando personal injury lawyer. His practice specializes in being an Orlando accident lawyer helping innocent victims get compensation for their losses. To learn more, visit Francislawgroup.com.

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