Construction is tough work, but it is essential for the growth and maintenance of our building, roads, and other parts of our nation's infrastructure. Although machinery has changed the construction world over the years, it is one of the few sectors that can never be fully outsourced to countries where wages, benefits, and other rules make labor cheaper. While construction work will always be in demand, it will also always be an occupation fraught with danger and risk.
Construction injuries are often serious, even fatal, and can impact workers with a range of specialties as well as bystanders. Worker's compensation often applies, but it may not always be the only recourse, one of many reasons we urge construction workers to contact us for help navigating the legal system to recover all the compensation.
According to WJHG, inclement weather including high wind gusts may have contributed to a wall collapse that sent two construction workers to the hospital. At approximately 7:45 A.M. on Tuesday, Panama City Beach Fire Rescue received a call reporting that 5 people had become trapped on the top floor of a Panama City Beach worksite. Electrical workers had gathered under a roof waiting for a rainstorm to pass when they heard a loud noise and the wall suddenly collapsed. Another worker referenced a crumbling sound just before the wall fell. Officials believe that a wind gust knocked over some roof trusses, leading to the collapse.
Fire Rescue official John Kibler said that by the time crews arrived, there were three trapped and two who had fall-related injuries. Paramedics transferred James Hendrix and Ricky Fesler for treatment at Bay Medical Sacred Heart. Family members expressed shock at the sudden accident. An investigation is underway.
The Center for Disease Control reports that in 2009 the construction field saw more fatal injuries than any other private sector industry, with a fatal occupational injury rate (9.7 per 100,000 full-time equivalents) that was nearly 3 times that of U.S. workers generally (3.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalents). 3 of the 10 occupations with the highest rate of fatal injuries were construction sector jobs: roofers, structural iron/steel workers, and laborers.
While the number of fatalities declined in both 2009 and 2008 (816 and 975 deaths respectively), the CDC suggests that this may have been a factor of the economic downturn rather than the result of safety improvements. 2009 also saw 92,540 construction workers experience nonfatal injuries and illnesses requiring days off work, with 4.3% of construction workers reporting such incidents. Falls accounted for 22% of these nonfatal events. Hispanic and Latino workers were disproportionately overrepresented in terms of the number of nonfatal injuries/illnesses requiring an absence.
Workers compensation is typically the first recourse for injured workers, but it may not be the only recourse. Third-party liability is one major exception and can apply where a subcontractor, equipment manufacturer, or property owner bear partial or complete responsibility for the injury. Intentional wrongdoing by an employer is another exception to the sole remedy concept. Additionally, in some cases where a workplace injury results in death, family members may have a wrongful death claim for amounts beyond the death benefits paid by workers compensation.
If you or a loved one suffered a construction injury in Panama City or the surrounding region, call us. Attorney Wes Pittman will evaluate your case and help determine whether you have a civil injury or wrongful death claim. A consultation is always free and most cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, so don't be afraid to pick up the phone -- the only one who should fear your call is the party responsible for your injury.