The Effective Lawyer Episode 17: Handling Construction Injury Cases

The Effective Lawyer Episode 17: Handling Construction Injury Cases

The Effective Lawyer Episode 17: Handling Construction Injury Cases

Summary

Join the Zinda Law Group team as it discusses how to handle cases involving injuries suffered on a construction site. What are the most common types of injuries sustained working in construction? What sort of regulations should you be looking at to cite fault during a workplace accident? What does a typical discovery plan look like pre-litigation?

Sharing their thoughts and experience with Jack and Kelsey about their approach to these difficult cases are two of Zinda’s top trial lawyers, Burgess Williams & Christina Hagen. 

Discussed in this episode: 

  • Approach the case by creating a “snapshot” of the construction site.
  • Create detailed documentation showing all of the parties involved.
  • OSHA & ANSI regulations are key resources when understanding fault.
  • Many victims are undocumented workers.
  • Workers comp typically bars you from being able to proceed with the case.
  • These are tough, expensive cases. Make sure that the damages justify taking the case on.

 

Taking the first steps in a Construction Injury Case

Understanding all of the parties involved is the best way to begin approaching a construction injury case. Establish the relationship that the worker has with the job site. Who is the general contractor? Is there a worker’s comp or insurance agreement?

“It’s so important to get started on these cases right away,” says Christina.

Common Types of Cases/Injuries in construction.

Both construction workers and bystanders are often injured. Accidents involving falls are very common, but also falling debris, forklifts, and other heavy vehicles are often involved in injuries on construction sites.

“Construction Sites are—by their nature—dangerous places,” says Burgess, “Things can go wrong, and they can go wrong quickly.”

Helpful Regulations and Guides to Reference

“The first place you want to go to are the OSHA regulations,” says Burgess. 

Looking at OSHA regulations and ANSI Standards is the first place to start. Keep in mind that when an accident is reported to OSHA, they will send a representative to investigate at the site of the incident.

“Instruction manuals & trade journals are also great resources,” adds Jack. “You want it to be very simple—who was in the best position to prevent the harm and who had the power to do so.”

Frequency of Construction Injuries

Construction Injuries are very common, and whether or not you have a viable case will vary state to state.

“Typically if your client is working and has worker’s compensation, then they have no recourse against the company” says Burgess. “Find out if there were any third parties onsite.”

There is always the possibility of a product malfunction being the cause of the injury.

“Unfortunately, a lot of our clients are undocumented workers,” says Jack, “and they’re really taken advantage of. A lot of them are terrified to even contact an attorney initially.”

Most common types of construction site injuries

“They’re almost always going to be catastrophic,” says Christina. “You’re almost always going to have a severe brain injury or some type of spinal injury.” 

“Helmets are meant to protect against small debris, not catastrophic impact,” adds Jack.

Injuries are typically very severe in nature, most often causing permanent harm to the victim.

Outlining a discovery plan

“If you are not the type of law firm that likes to litigate then I would stay far away from construction cases,” says Jack. 

Make a list of all the parties involved in the construction site. Then get contractual information to establish the relationships of each party. Then comes the deposition phase, so be prepared to take a lot of depositions in these types of cases.

“Get as much information as possible at the initial client meeting,” says Christina.  

“Checking 911 calls can be helpful” says Jack.

Key takeaways:

  • Approach the case by creating a “snapshot” of the construction site.
  • Create detailed documentation showing all of the parties involved.
  • OSHA & ANSI regulations are key resources when understanding fault.
  • Many victims are undocumented workers.
  • Workers comp typically bars you from being able to proceed with the case.
  • These are tough, expensive cases. Make sure that the damages justify taking the case on.

 

Links:

 

ABOUT THE EFFECTIVE LAWYER

The Effective Lawyer teaches ambitious trial lawyers how to grow their skills and create a prosperous law firm. Using lessons learned by accomplished attorneys from around the country, we discuss lessons learned through their trials and tribulations. Our discussions cover a vast range of topics sought out by attorneys looking for advice, from depositions to how to market your law firm. In each show we cover a new topic that an ambitious attorney would want to better understand, while providing practical skills to improve their legal practice.

The show is hosted by Jack Zinda, Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Zinda Law Group. In less than 15 years, Jack and his team have grown Zinda Law Group from 3 attorneys to over 30, spanning several states and handling a variety of personal injury cases from gas explosions to truck accidents.

 

 

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