Construction Accidents: Falling Objects
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What Is a Falling Object Accident?
Falling objects cause many injuries and the occasional fatality at construction sites. Even a small item can cause serious harm if dropped from an elevated position. Employers may have a duty to protect their employees, and innocent bystanders, from harms such as falling objects.
Preventing Falling Object Accidents
Employers and workers can work together to avoid accidents by implementing detailed safety procedures and training. Steps that can help prevent falling object accidents include:
- Carrying tools in work belts and tool boxes
- Raising equipment and materials with hand lines and elevators
- Placing equipment and materials in safe places, where they will not slide, roll, or vibrate loose, or be blown loose by the wind
- Making sure that workers are aware of who, and what, is underneath them at all times
- Posting warning signs and erecting protective barriers
How Do I Prove There Was a Falling Object Accident in Court?
Falling object accidents, like most personal injury cases, involve negligence, or carelessness. These cases are usually directed at the construction company for carelessness by creating an unsafe work environment. The elements of negligence are duty, breach, causation, and damage.
In falling object accidents where the injured party is a construction worker, causation is typically the primary issue. Many courts have limited employer liability by holding that only injuries caused by falling construction material can be awarded to construction workers. In other words, if construction material didn’t strike the worker, than there is no liability because the company couldn’t control outside objects.
For parties who are injured simply by walking underneath a construction site, breach will be a problem. Proving that a construction company was careless is difficult if the construction company refuses to reveal necessary evidence without a direct court order.
Personal injury attorneys in these situations may invoke the doctrine of “Res Ipsa Loquitur.” This tort doctrine means that the accident is self-explanatory; there would have been no accident if there wasn’t some kind of carelessness.
Are There Any Defenses a Construction Company Could Use?
Since falling object accidents are a form of negligence, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that the construction company was in fact careless. Some defenses were already mentioned above: the falling object is sometimes required to be construction material which the company controls before injury can be compensated.
The affirmative defense of contributory negligence or assumption of the risk is also popular in this area of personal injury. The former is a defense which states that the injured party was also careless, thereby causing, at least in part, their own accident. The latter is a defense which states that the injured party was warned, but took on the danger anyway. These defenses are most viable when there are danger and warning signs around the construction zone.
Can a Lawyer Help?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, and you believe it is the fault of your employer or another party, contact an attorney. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and possibly even punitive damages. Remember that there are deadlines established in the law, so contact an attorney before it is too late.
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Last Modified: 11-26-2012 02:44 PM PST
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