In Nebraska, construction accidents occur quite frequently, posing significant risks to workers and bystanders. It’s essential to know that victims of these accidents have rights, like filing a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit to address their suffering and losses. Engaging a construction accident lawyer is most important; they not only guide victims through the legal process but also tirelessly work to ensure that their clients receive the compensation and justice they deserve.

Types of Construction Accidents

At Liberty Law Group, our personal injury lawyers work to pursue justice on behalf of injured construction workers who were hurt in a serious accident. Our attorneys are experienced at fighting for maximum compensation for the damages that were sustained in Nebraska and Iowa’s civil court system. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Omaha, Lincoln, Papillion, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa, and surrounding areas. Including Douglas County, Lancaster County, Sarpy County, Dodge County, Washington County, and Saunders County in East Nebraska as well as Pattawattamie County, Harrison County, and Mills County in West Iowa. If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, contact our firm at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss your case.

Construction Accident Information Center

In the following sections, Liberty Law Group will provide an overview of construction accidents. This includes a close look at the types and causes of these accidents, the legal options at the disposal of victims, and how a construction accident lawyer helps individuals in making the most of their rights.

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Types of Construction Accidents

  • Falls – Falls are prevalent in the construction industry. Individuals are often required to work at significant heights, on scaffolding, ladders, or rooftops, where they face the risk of falling due to unstable surfaces, gusts of wind, or slip and trip hazards. These falls can result in a wide range of injuries, from fractures and broken bones to more severe outcomes like spinal cord injuries or even death, especially when safety measures like harnesses, safety nets, or guardrails are not properly in place. Slips and falls on ground level happen due to tripping over obstacles, slipping on wet or uneven surfaces, or losing balance while walking. They can lead to a range of injuries, including minor bruises and cuts, sprained ankles or wrists, fractures, and in some cases, serious head injuries.
  • Struck-By Incidents – These occur when a worker is hit by an object that is falling, flying, swinging, or rolling. Common scenarios include being struck by a tool that has fallen from a height, materials being moved or transported around the site, or being hit by swinging construction equipment like cranes. The impact can vary greatly in severity, potentially causing anything from minor bruises and cuts to significant injuries like concussions, internal organ damage, or in extreme cases, fatal injuries.
  • Electrocutions – Electrocution accidents in construction are typically the result of contact with exposed electrical wires, malfunctioning power tools, or electrical equipment. These accidents can happen due to many factors, including poor wiring, water intrusion, lack of proper insulation, or failure to follow lockout/tagout procedures. The injuries sustained from electrocutions can range from minor electrical burns to severe internal injuries, cardiac arrest, and in tragic instances, can be fatal.
  • Crush Accidents – These accidents happen when workers find themselves caught in or compressed by equipment, objects, or materials. This can include being pinned between machinery and a solid object, getting caught in the moving parts of machinery, or being trapped under a collapsing structure. The consequences of these accidents can be severe, including crush injuries, limb amputations, and in the worst cases, fatalities.
  • Exposure to Hazardous Materials – Construction sites often contain hazardous materials such as asbestos, lead, chemicals, or toxic dust. Workers exposed to these materials without proper safety measures can suffer from a range of health issues. This includes respiratory illnesses, skin irritation, chemical burns, and long-term conditions like cancer. These risks are heightened by prolonged exposure or lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Overexertion and Heat Stress – Construction work is physically demanding and often conducted outdoors, exposing workers to extreme weather conditions. Overexertion can lead to muscle strains, sprains, and other musculoskeletal disorders. Similarly, working in high temperatures can cause heat-related sickness, which includes cramps, exhaustion, and heat stroke.
  • Fires and Explosions – Fires and explosions pose a significant risk on construction sites. These can be caused by faulty electrical systems, gas leaks, improper storage or handling of flammable materials, or accidental ignition of combustible materials. The consequences of these events are often grave, leading to severe burn injuries, respiratory problems from smoke inhalation, and potentially fatal outcomes.
  • Tool and Machinery Accidents – These accidents involve mishaps with hand-held tools or larger machinery. They can occur due to a lack of training, malfunctioning equipment, or failure to follow safety protocols. Injuries from these accidents can range from minor cuts and abrasions to more severe injuries such as deep lacerations, crushed limbs, or even fatal injuries in cases of major machinery malfunctions.
  • Repetitive Motion Injuries – These injuries develop over time and are a result of repetitive strain on certain body parts. Common in construction due to the repetitive nature of many tasks, they can lead to conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and chronic back pain, which can significantly impact a worker’s ability to perform their duties and quality of life.
  • Construction Vehicle Accidents – These accidents involve construction vehicles and can be particularly dangerous due to the size and weight of the vehicles involved. Collisions, overturning, or workers being struck by these vehicles are common scenarios. The range of injuries can vary from minor to severe, including broken bones, internal injuries, or fatalities.
  • Noise-Induced Hearing Loss – Prolonged exposure to high levels of noise without adequate hearing protection can lead to permanent hearing loss or impairment. Construction sites often have high noise levels due to machinery, tools, and vehicles, posing a significant risk to workers’ long-term hearing health.
  • Vibration-Induced Injuries – Regular use of vibrating tools can cause conditions like Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). This condition affects blood circulation, nerves, and muscles, leading to pain, numbness, and a decrease in hand function, which can be debilitating for workers.
  • Structural Collapses – These are catastrophic events where structures under construction fail, resulting in debris falling and trapping workers. Causes can include design flaws, substandard building materials, or failure to properly secure structures during construction. These collapses can result in a range of severe injuries or fatalities.
  • Confined Space Accidents – Working in confined spaces presents unique challenges and dangers, including limited oxygen supply, exposure to harmful gases, and difficulty in exiting these spaces in emergencies. Accidents in confined spaces can lead to asphyxiation, poisoning, and other serious injuries or fatalities.

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Where Construction Accidents Tend to Occur

Construction accidents mainly occur on construction sites, which are work environments designed for the building, renovation, or demolition of structures like buildings, roads, bridges, and other infrastructural projects. These sites are complex, with many activities happening at the same time, making them prone to various types of accidents.

However, the risk of accidents is not confined to a single area of a construction site but can occur in multiple locations, each with its own set of hazards. High-altitude areas such as scaffolding, rooftops, or ladders are common spots for falls. Workers at these heights are at risk of falling due to unstable working surfaces, lack of proper safety equipment, or accidental slips. Similarly, trenches or excavation sites pose dangers of collapses or cave-ins.

Ground-level areas are equally risky. Loose cables, scattered tools, construction materials, and uneven surfaces create risks of slips and falls. Additionally, these areas usually contain significant movement of heavy machinery and vehicles like forklifts, trucks, and cranes, increasing the risk of struck-by incidents.

Confined spaces, such as pipelines, manholes, or small, enclosed areas within a building under construction, present challenges too. These spaces can have hazards like toxic fumes, limited oxygen, or difficult exit routes in emergencies, leading to severe accidents.

Electrical hazards are prevalent around areas where electrical systems are being installed or maintained. The risk of electrocution or electrical burns is high, especially when safety practices are overlooked. Similarly, areas where welding or the use of flammable materials occurs are potential sites for fires and explosions.

Outside of these specific areas, the entire construction site is a potential zone for overexertion and heat-related illnesses, especially in large open-air projects. Workers engaged in physically demanding tasks under the sun could experience heat exhaustion and dehydration.

Moreover, construction sites change as the project progresses. This constant change means that areas which were safe at one stage of the project may become hazardous at another.

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Professionals at Higher Risk of Injury

  • Construction Laborers: They are often on the front lines of any construction project, performing many tasks. Their work can involve heavy lifting, operating machinery, and working at heights.
  • Electricians: Working with electrical systems poses risks. Electricians in construction sites are exposed to the danger of electrocution, electrical burns, and fires.
  • Roofers: Given their work at heights, roofers are particularly at risk for fall-related accidents. They work on sloped surfaces and may not always have adequate fall protection.
  • Carpenters: Carpenters work with a variety of tools and machinery, putting them at risk for tool-related injuries. Their work often involves repetitive motions and working at heights.
  • Heavy Equipment Operators: Operating heavy machinery like bulldozers, forklifts, and cranes comes with risks, particularly of vehicle accidents.
  • Ironworkers: Involved in the construction of steel frameworks, ironworkers work at significant heights and handle heavy materials.
  • Plumbers and Pipefitters: These professionals often work in confined spaces, which puts them at risk for accidents related to limited mobility and exposure to hazardous materials.
  • Masons: Masonry work involves heavy lifting and repetitive movements, leading to overexertion injuries. Masons also work with tools and machinery that can cause accidents.
  • Painters: Painters often work on scaffolding or ladders, which increases their risk of fall-related accidents. They may also be exposed to toxic fumes and chemicals.
  • Demolition Workers: Demolition work is especially risky due to the unpredictable nature of collapsing structures and the use of heavy machinery and explosives.

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Workers Compensation for Construction Accidents

Workers’ compensation in Nebraska is a form of insurance that provides benefits to employees who suffer injuries or occupational diseases as a direct result of their job. If an employee gets hurt or falls ill due to work-related activities, they can receive workers’ compensation benefits.

It’s important to note that workers’ compensation is separate from other types of benefits or insurance. It is different from unemployment compensation, which supports workers who have lost their jobs. It is also separate from Social Security disability benefits, which are for long-term disabilities unrelated to work, as well as from general health and accident insurance or any other disability benefit plans an employer might provide.

The rules governing workers’ compensation in Nebraska are found in the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act (Nebraska Revised Statutes 48-101 to 48-1,118). The Workers’ Compensation Act represents, in most cases, the only means for employees to claim and receive benefits from their employer for injuries or illnesses that are related to their employment.

People Covered for Workers’ Compensation

In Nebraska, workers’ compensation coverage is quite comprehensive, applying to most employees. However, it’s important to note that this coverage does not extend to independent contractors, who are generally responsible for their own insurance and benefits.

Most employers in Nebraska are legally required to have workers’ compensation insurance. There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule, according to Nebraska Revised Statutes Section 48-106. For example, federal employers are not covered by the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act.

Eligibility for Coverage

Under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee who sustains an injury or suffers from a disease that is related to their job may be eligible for benefits. There are specific conditions under which these benefits are applicable:

  • The injury or disease must have occurred as a result of an accident or occupational disease that arose from their employment.
  • The eligibility for benefits also extends to situations where the employer was conducting work in Nebraska, or the employment itself is based in Nebraska.
  • Additionally, if an employee was hired in Nebraska and the employer is doing business or performing work in the state, the employee may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even if the injury occurred outside of Nebraska.

Types of Benefits

Employers or their insurers are required to cover all reasonable medical costs associated with a work-related injury. This encompasses hospital services, medical treatments, prescribed drugs, prosthetic devices, and other necessary supplies. Employees are also entitled to reimbursement for travel expenses related to their medical treatment. Employees have the right to choose their primary treating physician, and if they do not make a choice, the employer may select one for them.

Indemnity benefits (also called disability benefits) are provided when an employee misses work or endures permanent effects from a work-related injury. Temporary Disability Benefits can be for total or partial disability, with specific benefits for temporary total and partial disabilities. These are subject to maximum and minimum benefit rates and usually continue until the employee reaches maximum medical improvement or is released from medical care. Permanent Disability Benefits can be for either partial or total disability, based on the loss of specific body parts or the body as a whole. In cases of permanent total disability, if an employee is unable to return to work, they may be entitled to Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits.

Vocational rehabilitation benefits (also called return-to-work services) aid injured employees in returning to work, either with the same or a new employer or through formal training. Employees participating in court-approved rehabilitation plans continue to receive temporary disability benefits. These services are voluntary and can be pursued by the employee if not offered by the employer or insurer.

In the unfortunate event of an employee’s death due to a work-related injury, the Workers’ Compensation Act extends benefits to the dependents of the deceased employee. This ensures that the family or dependents of the deceased employee are supported.

Employee Negligence

According to Nebraska Revised Statute 48-101, if an employee gets injured or sick due to an accident or disease related to their job, they are entitled to compensation from their employer. This is the case even if the worker’s negligence contributed to the injury. However, the employee won’t receive compensation if they were willfully negligent (e.g., recklessly ignoring safety rules).

Nebraska Revised Statute 48-102 outlines that when an employee files a claim for workers’ compensation, the employer cannot use certain defenses. First of all, the employer can’t argue that the employee was at fault for their injury unless the employee was willfully negligent or intoxicated. Secondly, it’s not a valid employer defense to say the injury was caused by another employee’s negligence. Lastly, the employer can’t claim that the employee accepted the risks associated with the job, including risks from unsafe working conditions or equipment.

Nebraska Revised Statute 48-107 addresses the issue of proof in cases where an employee has been injured and is seeking compensation under the laws covered in Nebraska Revised Statutes 48-101 to 48-108. Specifically, this statute states that if an employer wants to argue that the injured employee was willfully negligent, meaning they intentionally disregarded safety measures or acted in a way that they knew could lead to injury, the responsibility to prove this negligence lies with the employer, not the employee. So, it’s up to the employer (the defendant in such a case) to provide evidence showing that the employee’s own intentional actions contributed to their injury.

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Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Cases

In Nebraska, the distinction between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits is significant. Workers’ compensation is a mandatory insurance program that Nebraska employers must provide for their employees. Employees can usually get benefits irrespective of who was at fault for the injury. The workers’ compensation system is supposed to provide a more straightforward and faster process for employees to receive compensation, as they don’t need to prove negligence or fault of the employer.

Under workers’ compensation, the benefits are somewhat limited compared to a personal injury lawsuit. The benefits typically include medical expenses, a portion of the employee’s lost wages (usually a percentage), and disability benefits, either temporary or permanent, depending on the injury. However, it does not cover non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Additionally, employees accepting benefits through workers’ compensation usually waive the right to bring a lawsuit against their employer for their injuries.

A personal injury lawsuit is a civil action brought against a person or entity responsible for the injury. This could include a third party, the manufacturer of faulty equipment, or in some cases, the employer if workers’ compensation is not involved. The fundamental requirement in a personal injury lawsuit is proving negligence or fault. The plaintiff (the injured party) must demonstrate that the defendant’s actions or inactions directly caused their injury.

Personal injury lawsuits can result in a broader range of damages being awarded compared to workers’ compensation. These damages can include full reimbursement of all medical expenses, complete recovery of lost wages, compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and sometimes punitive damages, especially in cases of intentional acts. The process of a personal injury lawsuit can be lengthy and complex because it involves evidence gathering, a series of negotiations, and potentially a trial.

In some cases, if a worker’s injury is caused by a third party (not the employer or a co-worker), they might pursue a personal injury lawsuit against that party while also receiving workers’ compensation benefits from their employer.

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Statutes of Limitations

In Nebraska, there’s a time limit, known as the statute of limitations, for filing workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits. For workers’ compensation, an injured worker has two years to file a claim. This period starts either from the date of the injury or, if compensation payments have been made, from the date of the last payment. It’s important to file the lawsuit within this two-year window, although the case doesn’t need to be resolved within that time.

There are exceptions to this rule. For instance, if an injury or illness, like cancer from chemical exposure, isn’t immediately discovered, the two-year period starts from when the worker becomes aware of the injury. Also, if the employer doesn’t report the injury, the time limit is paused until they do. If the injured worker or their dependent is legally unable to file a claim, the two-year limit only starts after this legal disability is removed.

In Nebraska, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is four years. This means that an individual who has suffered an injury normally has up to four years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. Failing to file within this period typically results in the loss of the right to seek compensation through the courts.

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Role of a Construction Accident Lawyer

A construction accident lawyer helps individuals who have been injured in construction accidents, whether they are employees eligible for workers’ compensation or individuals pursuing personal injury lawsuits.

Navigating Workers’ Compensation Claims

For employees injured on the job, a construction accident lawyer can guide them through the workers’ compensation system. This involves helping to file claims correctly and on time, ensuring that the victim receives the appropriate medical evaluations, and advocating for fair compensation. The lawyer can also assist in disputes if the employer or the insurance company denies the claim or provides inadequate benefits. They understand workers’ compensation laws and can effectively handle all the legal procedures to protect the rights and interests of the injured worker.

Pursuing Personal Injury Lawsuits

In cases where the construction accident is due to negligence by a third party, or if the situation falls outside the scope of workers’ compensation, a construction accident lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of the victim. This includes gathering evidence to prove negligence, negotiating with insurance companies, and representing the victim in court if necessary. The lawyer aims to secure compensation for a wider range of damages than is typically available under workers’ compensation, such as pain and suffering, full lost wages, and punitive damages.

Investigating and Gathering Evidence

A key area where a construction accident lawyer can help is in the investigation of the accident. They gather evidence, such as accident reports, witness statements, and surveillance footage, to build a strong case. This evidence is important in proving negligence in personal injury cases or establishing the extent of injury in workers’ compensation claims.

Collaborating with Medical Professionals

Attorneys often work closely with medical professionals to understand the full extent of their client’s injuries. They ensure that medical reports accurately reflect the injuries and their impact on the client’s life. This information is important in securing appropriate compensation for medical expenses, ongoing care, and rehabilitation costs.

Negotiating with Insurance Companies

Construction accident lawyers are skilled in negotiating with insurance companies. They handle all communications and negotiations to ensure that victims are not pressured into accepting lowball settlements. Their goal is to secure a fair settlement that covers all the victim’s needs, from immediate medical expenses to long-term care and lost wages.

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Additional Resources

Fatal Work Injuries in Nebraska – The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports on fatal work injuries, including construction accidents. Injury prevalence is broken down by occupation and demographics. Visit the BLS’s website for more information on workplace injuries.

Nebraska Laws on Workers’ Compensation – View the Nebraska Legislature’s site for the specific laws that concern workers’ compensation in the state of Nebraska. Includes information on employer liability and the process of receiving benefits.

Omaha Construction Accident Death in 2022 – a construction accident resulted in a fatality according to local police. One construction worker was reported dead after trying to connect piping alongside a roadway in Omaha.

OSHA Construction Incidents Investigation Reports – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports catastrophic incidents involving construction, demolition, and other circumstances. Investigative reports conducted by engineers are linked to each incident. Visit OSHA for more information on workplace safety.

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Hiring a Construction Accident Lawyer in Nebraska | Liberty Law Group

The personal injury attorneys at Liberty Law Group represent workers who were severely injured in a construction accident. Our team fights for maximum compensation for the damages suffered as a result of the injury. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Omaha in Douglas County, Lincoln in Lancaster County, Papillion in Sarpy County, and the surrounding Nebraska counties of Dodge, Washington, Saunders, and Cass. We also serve West Iowa including Council Bluffs in Pattawattamie County and the surrounding Iowa counties of Harrison and Mills. If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, contact our firm at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss your case with an experienced construction accident lawyer.

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