Can you receive workers’ compensation after a trench collapse injury?
Georgia construction workers face some of the highest rates of injuries and deaths on the job, including those suffered during trench collapses. Fortunately, they also have rights and possible recourse in the event an injury does occur.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common trench collapse injuries and causes, and what you can do if you’ve been injured in a trench collapse—starting with seeking advice and help from an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer.
Statistics on trench collapses on construction sites
If you work construction in Georgia, then you know all-too-well that one of the most dangerous jobs is in the trenches. Cave-ins cause 3 out of every 4 deaths in trench accidents. Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that an average of 25 workers are killed in trench accidents each year. Many more workers are grievously and seriously injured.
It’s worth noting that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that trenching dangers during construction activities led to 488 fatalities between 1992 and 2000. That’s an average of 54 every year. Of those, 68 percent happened in construction companies with less than 50 workers. Forty-six percent happened in companies with 10 workers or less.
This leads us to conclude that smaller construction companies may have less access to the resources needed to make trenches safe, or less willing to spend the money needed to protect workers from dangers. If you work for a small construction company, it’s especially important that you be even more aware of the dangers of trench collapses.
Most common injuries in trench accidents
Any trench of 5 feet or greater requires a protective system—including a clear entry and exit point, keeping heavy equipment away from the edges, and proper shoring and shielding.
Trench collapse injuries occur when all or part of a trench gives way while workers are inside. This can lead to suffocation and asphyxiation—one of the leading causes of death in a trench collapse—or bone and soft tissue injuries.
If there are underground power lines running through, below or alongside a trench, workers may be electrocuted during excavation. Improperly marked trenches can also lead to falls. If explosives are being used in excavation, explosions may cause injuries to the buried workers’ ears and/or eyes.
Construction workers can also be injured in “caught between” trench accidents, which occur when equipment traps workers against the trench or other surfaces and injures them.
Who is liable for a trench collapse?
When a catastrophic injury occurs, your first concern is getting well. But in the case of a workplace injury, it’s also important to determine who is to blame for the conditions that led to the injury so that you can be properly compensated for the extensive medical bills and lost wages you encounter as a result.
When you are injured on the job in Georgia, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits that cover your medical bills and the wages you lose as a result of being hurt and unable to work. The last thing you need is added financial stress due to the difficulties already associated with being injured, so it’s important to learn about your rights to workers’ compensation as soon as possible.
In addition to your right to workers’ compensation benefits, you may also have a claim against a third party if you can prove that negligence led to your injury.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can walk you through your options.
How to secure compensation for your construction injury
When you’re hurt on the job, it may feel like an overwhelming task to pursue a claim or even find the information you need about filing a claim. That’s why it can be helpful to discuss the circumstances of your injury with a qualified attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation cases, particularly common construction injuries like trench collapses.
Schedule your no-cost consultation with Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, a Georgia-based firm with extensive experience helping injured construction workers get the compensation they deserve. Contact us today to get started on your case.