Fort Lauderdale Construction Accident Attorney
Representing Florida workers and civilians in construction site accidents
Florida construction site accidents result from all types of causes, such as coworker negligence, employer negligence, negligence by other contractors, defective machinery and dangerous property conditions. These accidents can injure a wide range of people, from workers to contractors and innocent bystanders who just happen by a construction site at the wrong moment. At Boone & Davis, Attorneys at Law, our Fort Lauderdale construction accident attorneys represent victims of all types of construction accidents in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.
Construction accidents are common
Construction is booming in south Florida, and Fort Lauderdale sees many buildings going up all around us. Thousands of people are finding gainful employment in the construction industry, which boosts the local economy.
The sad reality, however, is that countless construction workers will be injured on the job. Statistics kept by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) show that most construction accident injuries are caused by what the agency dubs the “fatal four”:
- Workers struck by objects
- Workers caught in between objects
The reason why people are injured varies by accident. Sometimes, a poorly constructed ladder or scaffolding will collapse, sending people tumbling toward the ground. In other cases, a careless coworker will drop something from up high or strike a worker while driving a vehicle. We see many accidents stemming from neglect, oversight, and carelessness.
Regardless of the cause, these accidents frequently result in horrifying injuries, some of which might not be immediately visible. Electrocution, for example, can cause internal organ damage and brain injuries which might take some time to manifest. The same is true of falls or being struck by an object. Weeks later, victims begin to sense something is wrong but might not immediately connect it to an accident they survived at work.
If you were injured in a construction accident, we encourage you to seek medical attention promptly. The sooner you receive treatment, the greater your odds of recovery.
Injuries in a construction accident caused by negligence
In most construction projects, many groups of individuals and businesses are working at any given time on the construction site. When these third parties are negligent or otherwise at fault in causing an accident, you may seek full compensation, including compensation for your suffering, through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, instead of filing for workers’ comp. Our Fort Lauderdale construction accident attorneys guide you through accident claims caused by the fault of a broad range of people and organizations, including:
- Construction site owners and property owners
- Manufacturers of equipment, tools, building materials and other construction products
- Engineering firms
- Contractors and subcontractors
- Construction managers
- Trucking companies and drivers
Construction accidents and workers’ compensation
Florida’s workers’ compensation system was designed to streamline injury claims when a worker is injured on the job. It supplanted the tort system where a worker would need to prove that an employer was negligent and that this negligence caused the workers’ injuries. The tort system created headaches for all involved and delayed workers from getting critical medical care.
For this reason, Florida created the no-fault worker’s compensation system. When a worker is injured, he or she can immediately file for benefits provided they were injured on the job. Because these benefits are no-fault, the worker gains immediate access to life-saving medical care, which the employer pays for. Employers buy a workers’ compensation insurance policy, which covers not only medical care but also a percentage of the workers’ weekly wage if they cannot return to work.
Workers’ compensation benefits come with a catch, however. The employee cannot sue his employer for the accident—even if the employer was negligent and created a safety hazard. This exception makes sense, though. If the employee could sue, then there would be no incentive for an employer to actually buy an insurance policy.
Because an employer is immune from suit, injured construction workers might feel that they are stuck with workers’ compensation benefits. And these benefits are not very generous. For example, workers receive only two-thirds of their average weekly wage—not 100%–if they are temporarily or permanently disabled. Many construction workers need all their income to cover their family’s expenses, and any shortfall due to injury could be devastating.
Even worse, workers’ compensation provides no money for emotional distress, pain, or suffering. A permanent, disabling injury can significantly impair a person’s quality of life, but no money is available to try and make up for it.
Fortunately, an injured construction worker does have options. As an example, they could sue someone other than their employer, so long as this person was responsible for the injury. This is called a “third party lawsuit” and could include the manufacturer of defective equipment or a different contractor on the construction site who was negligent.
One reason to meet with an attorney is to review whether a third-party lawsuit is possible. If it is, we can bring the claim along with your claim for workers’ compensation and possibly increase the compensation you receive.
What an injured construction worker can receive in compensation
If you are injured while working on a construction site, you can receive workers’ compensation benefits for:
- All medical care, including rehabilitation
- Temporary or permanent disability benefits
- Vocational benefits to retrain for a job
In a lawsuit against a third party, an injured construction worker could receive compensation for:
- Past, present, and future medical care
- Past, present, and future lost income or lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Mental anguish
A question we often receive is, “How much can I receive for my construction accident injuries?” There is no formula which we can use to arrive at a precise number. There are many variables in play, including the severity of your injuries and how much you made before the accident.
Compensation for construction accidents and nonworkers
Workers are not the only people who may fall victim to a construction site accident. Unfortunately, innocent bystanders may suffer serious or fatal injuries, including pedestrians walking by or through a site and drivers passing next to or under ongoing construction work. For example, imagine if a crane falls. It could easily smash through several buildings and possibly strike someone minding their own business out on the street. The same is true of construction site fires which might spread to adjoining properties.
If you have been injured or have lost a loved one, our law firm is dedicated to helping you obtain the compensation you deserve. We help you determine who is at fault, whether it’s the construction company, the premises owner or manufacturers, and we guide you through your lawsuit or settlement negotiation to obtain full compensation for your injury or loss.
Hiring a law firm experienced with construction accidents is to your benefit. We understand this area of law intimately, and we have sat across from some of the state’s largest contractors and subcontractors at the negotiating table.
Wrongful death claims and construction accidents
Unfortunately, many workers succumb to their injuries, leaving family members to try and make sense of what has happened. Construction accidents are always tragic, but this is a dangerous industry—deaths can and will continue to occur. Helpfully, the law allows family members to bring both a workers’ compensation claim and possibly a third-party lawsuit.
With workers’ compensation, certain surviving family members can receive a death benefit. For example, a surviving spouse without children could receive a weekly payment equal to 50% of the deceased’s average weekly wage. Minor children are also eligible to receive a benefit, though the state caps the death benefit (currently $939 per week).
In a third party claim, surviving family members could receive compensation for lost services, lost financial support, and for certain intangible harms, such as the loss of parental guidance. Wrongful death lawsuits are very difficult to bring, and we encourage families to reach out to an experienced construction accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale to learn more.
Shared fault and construction accidents
Accidents often have multiple causes. For example, a worker might be injured when someone drops an object from scaffolding and hits them in the head. But if the victim failed to wear a hard hat, then they share some of the blame for the concussion they suffer. This is the concept of shared fault or contributory negligence.
Fortunately, Florida law allows a construction accident victim to receive compensation even if they share some blame. Remember, workers’ compensation benefits are no-fault, so a worker can be wholly to blame and still receive benefits.
With a third party lawsuit, Florida’s comparative fault rules come into play. Basically, our clients can seek compensation from an at-fault party so long as our clients are not 100% to blame. So long as a defendant shares some responsibility, then we can sue them.
There are important limitations, however. A victim’s compensation is lowered by their percentage of blame. So if you suffered roughly $200,000 in damages, but were 50% to blame, you will receive at most $100,000. If you were 80% to blame, then you will receive at most $40,000.
Because of these rules, many construction defendants try to exaggerate our client’s carelessness. They might even try to use safety lapses committed months before the accident against our clients. But what matters is whether our client’s negligence contributed to their injuries, not whether they had a general reputation for being careful.
Construction accidents and immigrant workers
It is no secret that Florida’s construction trade relies heavily on immigrants. According to one study done in 2015, over 2 million construction workers in the United States were born in a different country. About half of them came from Mexico.
Many immigrants enter the country legally, typically with a work visa. But a large number also come without legal authorization, and many use a stolen Social Security number or get paid under the table. When these workers get hurt, they often hesitate to seek out legal help because they are afraid of getting deported.
Florida allows undocumented immigrants to receive both workers’ compensation benefits and compensation from a lawsuit. However, by filing a claim, a worker risks popping up on the government’s radar and being rounded up by immigration authorities. And it is illegal to seek worker’s compensation benefits with fraudulent documents.
If you were injured by an undocumented worker on a construction site, then your claim might be much stronger than normal. Construction companies and subcontractors are supposed to check the legal status of an applicant before hiring him. And if you are undocumented, we can discuss your legal options for compensation.
The statute of limitations for construction accidents
Florida encourages injured victims to file lawsuits in a timely manner. There is logic behind this attitude. A court should not rely on “stale” evidence when determining liability. Also, many witnesses can disappear rather quickly, so filing a suit in a timely manner preserves our client’s ability to make a compelling claim.
Florida’s statute of limitations requires that a victim files a lawsuit within four years. This is a hard deadline—if you miss it, then you can miss out on bringing a claim in court. One big advantage of working with an experienced law firm like Boone & Davis is that we will ensure that your case is filed in the correct court before the deadline. Doing so strengthens our hand in settlement negotiations and preserves the right to march into court and litigate a claim, if necessary.
Contact our experienced Fort Lauderdale construction accident attorneys for help with your construction injury case
At Boone & Davis, Attorneys at Law, our Fort Lauderdale construction accident attorneys have more than 40 years of experience guiding victims through personal injury, wrongful death and workers’ comp claims arising from construction accidents. Because construction injuries often involve complex issues of multiple parties and theories of liability, it is important to seek assistance from seasoned lawyers like ours. To learn more about how we can use our skills and resources to assist you with your case, contact us online or call 954-566-9919 for a free initial consultation.