One of the most significant dangers construction workers face is the risk associated with trenching and excavation work. Trench and excavation injuries can have severe, long-term consequences. Here’s what you should know about these types of injuries and your legal rights.
Understanding trench and excavation hazards
Trenching and excavation involve digging and creating cavities in the ground for various construction purposes, such as laying pipelines, installing foundations or repairing utilities. Some common hazards include:
- Collapse: Trench walls can collapse suddenly due to the weight and pressure of the surrounding soil. This can trap and bury workers, leading to serious injuries or fatalities.
- Engulfment: Workers in a trench can be engulfed by soil, rocks or water, which can quickly fill the trench and bury them under tremendous weight.
- Falls: Construction workers can fall into trenches if proper protective measures are not in place, leading to injuries from heights.
- Struck-by incidents: Heavy machinery or equipment used near trenches can accidentally strike workers, leading to injuries.
- Hazardous atmospheres: Trenches can accumulate hazardous gases or substances, posing risks to workers' respiratory health.
Workers’ compensation and third-party claims
Workers’ compensation is typically a no-fault system—and often, it’s the only legal remedy available to workers injured on the job. While its medical bill coverage and wage replacement can help, the compensation may fall short for the severe injuries or deaths sustained in trench and excavation accidents.
There are limited circumstances in which a construction worker can file claims beyond the workers’ compensation system. If an employer intentionally harms an employee, is grossly negligent or a third party’s negligence is responsible for the accident, they can sue for additional damages like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment and more. These additional damages can help compensate plaintiffs who suffer significant harm on the job.
If you're involved in a construction accident, consult a skilled Bradenton, FL accident attorney at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy & Walsh right away. You may be entitled to file a third-party claim in addition to workers’ compensation.