Houston Construction Accident Attorneys
Construction Injury Lawyers in Houston, TX. Billions Won for Our Clients.
Construction has proven to be one of the most dangerous fields to work in, as it is common for serious injuries to result from hazardous working conditions. On a construction site, there are safety practices and equipment malfunctions that could result in a worker's injury or endanger the lives of bystanders. Without proper safety measures to protect workers, negligence could cause catastrophic or even fatal injuries.
The agency responsible for holding employers accountable for safe working conditions is the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. They inspect work sites and bring disciplinary action against employers and contractors who do not ensure the safety of their employees. However, keep in mind, that OSHA does not represent injured workers—construction accident attorneys do.
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1 in 5 of every job-related fatality was someone who worked in construction; 1 in 10 of every non-fatal workplace injury was attributed to the industry. In 2004, this led to more than 1,000 construction workers becoming victims of fatal accidents. Ultimately, the environments are dangerous by design. No matter whether the worker is building trenches underground or working near a congested freeway, they are placed in dangerous situations on a daily basis.
Beyond this, they are required to work with dangerous equipment—from large cranes to hazardous materials. It, however, is important to note that while construction is a known dangerous industry, it doesn't mean that accidents are just to be accepted. Employers have a duty to follow safety regulations to make sure that their employees are protected to the full extent of the law—if they are negligent or should defective equipment be used, the injured have a right to compensation.
At Arnold & Itkin, our top-rated Houston construction injury lawyers are committed to fighting for the rights of construction accident victims. Call now for your free case review.
What Sets Arnold & Itkin Apart?
- We have won billions of dollars.
- We have set both state and national records.
- We have won hundreds of cases more than $1M.
- We have won countless awards and honors.
- You don't pay our firm unless we win.
- We offer completely free consultations.
Our Texas Construction Accident Lawyers Have a Reputation for Trying Cases
Report Shows Dangers of Construction Work
Business has been booming in Texas, and corporations and citizens are flocking to the state to take advantage of the opportunities. The growth in population has meant a boom for the construction industry too. New residential housing and business projects have made the demand for construction workers rise. Currently, there are over one million construction workers working in Texas. While the growth has been good for local economies, it has also increased the number of injuries that occur on construction sites. Construction work is some of the most dangerous work in the nation. Each day construction workers are faced with a number of hazards that could lead to serious injury or death if they are not following proper safety protocols. A report released by the Workers Defense Project revealed just how dangerous construction work really is.
Below are some alarming facts contained within the report:
- 1 in 5 construction workers reported suffering an on-the-job injury.
- Over 60% of construction workers do not receive adequate safety training.
- There is only 1 OSHA investigator for every 103,899 construction workers.
- The Texas construction industry has a higher fatality rate than any other state.
The “Fatal Four” Construction Accidents
Through OSHA’s annual research, particularly the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, the public has access to the most common construction accidents to cause fatalities. Every year, it is often the same four causes—compelling OSHA to often name them together as the “Fatal Four.”
The Fatal Four
- Falls (39.9%)
- Electrocution (8.5%)
- Struck by Object (8.4%)
- Caught In-Between (1.4%)
What is tragic is that these hazards are preventable through proper safety. OSHA estimates that by eliminating the Fatal Four alone, 500+ lives could be saved every year—not even mentioning the number of injuries that could be prevented. The overwhelming majority of deaths by falling occurred due to the failure of structure or equipment, commonly scaffolding. Faulty scaffolding injures 4,500 workers a year—and kills 60 of them. OSHA provides construction companies with measures that can be taken to help prevent fatal accidents on their construction sites.
Employers could prevent deaths from the Fatal Four through the following precautions:
- Using proper fall prevention equipment at all times when workers are required to be elevated
- Training workers on basic safety measures, such as avoiding walking or standing under a heavy object that is being lifted by a crane
- Providing workers with safety gear such as hard hats, toe guards and eye protection
- Instruct workers to check electrical wiring daily to ensure it has not been damaged
- Posting signs to warn workers of hazardous areas on the site
Common Hazards Faced at Construction Sites
While working onsite, sadly it is common for human error to be the cause of a serious and debilitating injury. Whether it is negligence on the part of a supervisor or the absent-minded mistakes of a co-worker, related issues make this field of work one of the most dangerous.
Examples of Issues That Can Cause Construction Accidents
- Improper site design or inspection
- Improperly stored materials
- Unmarked hazards (ex: unprotected holes)
- Using old or defective working materials
- Safety code violations
Unmarked hazards could result in falls to a lower level—either a trench, holes in the roofing, or uncovered manholes. OSHA classifies these as “falls through existing holes or structures,” and it causes 82 deaths and thousands of injuries annually. Employers are responsible for clearly marking these hazards. Other times, a worker may sustain an injury due to unsafe conditions. This could occur when the correct safety measures are not taken to protect workers against accidents—whether due to faulty equipment manufacturing or an unstable work environment.
The Most Common Accidents & Causes of Injuries at Construction Sites
Construction workers are commonly asked to work on scaffolding, which is a temporary structure. Unfortunately, scaffolds are often erected incorrectly, leaving them shaky and unsteady. Scaffolding accidents cause 4,500+ injuries annually. In some of the most recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 50 fatalities were attributed to scaffolding in one year alone. More than 70% of those who were injured in a scaffold accident said the incident was due to either planking or support giving way or them slipping or being struck by a falling object.
Other solutions for making scaffolding safer include the following:
- Only erect, move, or dismantle scaffold under a competent person's supervision.
- Properly equip scaffold with guardrails, midrails, and toeboards.
- Immediately repair or replace damaged/weakened scaffold accessories.
- Instruct all employees about the hazards of using diagonal braces as fall protection.
To counteract the high rate of scaffolding injuries, a scaffold must be capable of carrying not only its weight but four times its maximum intended load without settling or moving. It should also be erected on solid footing without unstable objects being used to support it.
Falling from a Height
One of the most common causes of injury for construction workers is falling from a height. In 2014, OSHA reported 660 fatalities as a result of falling from a height. Regardless of whether they are working on a roof, scaffolding, or a ladder, construction workers are often asked to conduct their work up high. When workers are not provided with adequate fall protection, the results can be disastrous.
Common ways to prevent fall injuries include:
- Stable scaffolding
- Fall arrest systems
- Safety nets
- Secured covers
- Restraint systems
Ladder & Stairway Accidents
According to statistics released by OSHA, more than 24,000 injuries and 35 fatalities occur every year because of a fall from a ladder or a stairway on a construction site. Of these, more than 50% require time off from work. Most commonly, ladder accidents occur because the wrong ladder was used for the job, the ladder failed because it was in poor condition, or the ladder was used improperly (often due to a lack of training).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted a study of 1,400 ladder accidents, which found:
- 73% of victims had not been given clear instructions on safe use.
- 66% of victims had not been trained on inspecting ladders for defects.
- 61% of victims were using a ladder that had not been secured at the top.
- 57% of victims were holding objects while climbing or descending.
- 53% of victims were using a ladder that had not been secured at the bottom.
- 30% of victims had shoes that were either wet, greasy, or oily.
Stairways can also cause serious accidents when a worker slips, trips, and falls. To counteract this danger, they should be kept free of all dangerous objects, debris, and material at all times. Stairways should have at least one handrail as well.
Accidents in Trenches
Work in trenches is extremely dangerous as cave-ins occur all too frequently. According to BLS data, 13 workers died from a trench or excavation collapse in 2014 alone—in general, events where workers were caught under collapsing structures caused a total of 74 deaths that year. The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) researchers found that there is an average of 50+ fatalities every year from accidents of this kind, with 68% of these accidents occurring in companies who have less than 50 total workers.
Solutions proposed by OSHA to reduce trenching accidents include:
- Never allowing a worker to enter into an unprotected trench
- Always using a protective system for trenches at least a foot deep
- Using a registered professional engineer to design trenches deeper than 20 feet
- Using protective systems such as sloping, shoring, and shielding
- Providing an exit no more than 25 feet apart in the trench
Defective & Dangerous Equipment
One of the most common sources of accidents on construction sites is the equipment used by workers. From cranes to forklifts, construction workers often need to use heavy equipment to get the job done. When this equipment is not properly maintained, inspected, or used, accidents can be severe. Our construction accident lawyers in Houston have handled numerous cases where a client's life was altered because an operator was poorly trained. For example, accidents occur when a crane's boom comes into contact with a power line, or when a crane's swing hits a worker. Similarly, forklifts can also cause injuries, with OSHA reporting that more than 95,000 construction workers suffer an injury in a forklift accident every year.
The following are solutions to help reduce forklift accidents:
- All operators should be properly trained and certified.
- No one under the age of 18 should be permitted to operate a forklift.
- No modifications should be made to a forklift without written approval from the manufacturer.
- All forklifts should be properly examined for defects on a regular basis.
- Forklifts should not be driven at speeds greater than 5 mph—slower when congested or slippery.
- Forklifts should be operated safely with no horseplay or stunts.
- Forklifts should be operated with loads elevated high off of the ground.
Harmful Chemicals & Toxic Exposure
Construction workers are often asked to work with chemicals that pose serious health risks, such as irritation, flammability, corrosion, and more. OSHA has a stringent Hazard Communication Standard that spreads the proper information about these dangerous chemicals. When these standards are not followed, workers can be left to work with harmful chemicals unknowingly. This can cause personal injuries such as burns and respiratory problems, and also cause large-scale accidents such as fires and explosions.
OSHA recommends the following to reduce injuries caused by failures in hazard communications:
- Each chemical should have a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that is easily accessible.
- All employees should be trained on how to read and use the MSDS.
- Employees should be trained about the risks of all chemicals being used.
- Spill clean-up kits should be provided wherever chemicals are stored.
- Employees should be trained on the clean up of spills and provided with clear instructions.
Fires & Explosions
Construction sites may require the use of explosive devices to flatten land and facilitate work. When safe procedures for the operation of these devices are not followed, the resulting explosions can have devastating consequences for construction workers. Electrocution and malfunctioning of wiring and equipment is another common cause of construction fire accidents.
Construction Accident FAQ
What should I do if I’ve been injured at a construction site?
You need to seek medical care, inform your employer, and talk to an attorney. These are the three key steps to take if you’ve been injured while working on a construction site in the Houston, Texas area. Protect your health first and foremost, and then protect your legal right to compensation. Because construction accidents can cause catastrophic, life-changing injuries, you’ll need all the help you can get to cover medical bills, lost income, ongoing treatment, and more. Call our Houston construction accident lawyers to make sure the right steps are being taken for your recovery.
Are all construction accidents covered by workers’ compensation?
Whether a construction accident is covered by workers’ compensation will depend on two things. First, were you working or at the jobsite at the time of your accident? If you’re a construction worker, you could be entitled to workers’ comp. Second, does your employer carry workers’ compensation insurance? Texas is unique in that employers are not required to carry workers’ comp insurance, unlike other states where coverage is mandatory. If you answered yes to both questions, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, with construction accident claims there are other factors to consider. You could be entitled to additional compensation by way of a personal injury lawsuit if a third party was involved.
When are third parties responsible for construction accidents?
A third party (someone other than your employer or another worker) may be responsible for a construction accident if it was their negligence or wrongdoing that caused the incident. An example might be the manufacturer of a tool or hardhat that was defective. If you were injured, you could have grounds for a product liability lawsuit. Third-party lawsuits make it possible for injured construction workers to seek more than the medical care and partial wage compensation offered by workers’ comp. That’s why it’s one of the things our attorneys consider when taking on a new construction accident case.
One of the Most Well-Known Construction Verdicts in the Nation's History
In 2015, Arnold & Itkin represented a site superintendent who lost his leg in a crane accident at a construction site. Berkel & Company had been hired to drill auger cast pilings, operating a crane owned by Maxim Crane Works. At one point, the auger got stuck during deep foundation drilling. A Berkel superintendent told the crane operator to continue drilling to unstick the auger. After five attempts, he ordered the crane operator to attempt it again; this is when the crane collapsed.
Our client was standing behind a safety fence 100 feet away when a piece of crane equipment struck him and pinned him to the ground. Another crane was able to lift the equipment off of him, but it was too late by then—doctors had to amputate his leg above the knee. At trial, our Houston construction injury attorneys argued that both Berkel and Maxim were at fault: Berkel for violating safety practices multiple times, and Maxim for not inspecting their crane.
The jury agreed and awarded our client a $44 million verdict for his medical expenses, loss of earning ability, physical impairment and pain, and mental anguish. His verdict included $8.5 million in punitive damages.
Call Our Houston Construction Site Injury Attorneys at (888) 493-1629!
Even in cases where workers blame themselves for their injuries, it is often the case that employers failed to meet federal safety standards. Employee mistakes should not have to cost them their livelihoods, limbs, or physical health—that is neither just nor legal. If you or a loved one has suffered a debilitating injury because of a construction accident, it is likely that negligent behavior was the cause. If safety regulations are not being followed, grave consequences may be the result. At Arnold & Itkin LLP, our dedicated team of Houston construction accident attorneys has handled countless claims and has recovered billions of dollars in compensation for our clients. We understand how an injury can restrict a worker's future physically and mentally. We work aggressively on every case to obtain the best results to secure the best future for out clients.
Give our Houston construction accident lawyers a call at (888) 493-1629 and let us get started in the fight for you.