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Chicago Construction Accident Lawyer

Our attorney’s extensive experience in matters of construction workplace liability has enabled us to recover millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients in such cases, including a $5.7 million settlement for a 27-year-old roofer who was paralyzed when he fell from a roof as a result of the general contractor’s failure to provide appropriate safety devices, and an $840,000 verdict for a man who sustained a workplace back injury resulting in multiple surgeries.

The construction industry in Chicago employs more than 120,000 people. These construction workers build projects for private businesses, local and state government, and federal contractors. 

Construction work is also the second-most dangerous job in Illinois. Recent statistics are skewed by the pandemic, but in 2019, Illinois construction accidents killed 30 workers. Construction accidents also caused an estimated 19,790 injuries in that same year. 

Construction accidents have the highest fatality rate among any work-related accidents. About 19 percent of fatal Illinois work accidents come from the construction industry. Survivors of construction accidents are often left with catastrophic injuries to the brain or spinal cord. 

After a construction accident in Chicago, you will need compensation to pay your medical bills and living expenses until you can return to work. If you cannot return to work, you will need disability compensation to cover the lifetime income you lost in your accident. 

To discuss the injury compensation you might be entitled to under Illinois law, contact Levin & Perconti to schedule a free consultation. 

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Most Common Construction Accidents in Chicago

Thousands of construction accidents occur every year in Chicago. These accidents range from slip and fall accidents to fatal electrocutions. 

Chicago’s climate poses a risk to construction workers. Adverse weather conditions — including heavy winds and thunderstorms, rain or snowfall for roughly 110 days per year, and subzero temperatures — increase the risk of slips, falls and electrocutions on a construction site.  

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for regulating all construction sites in Illinois except those operated by the state or federal governments. In its regulatory role, OSHA has identified four categories of construction accidents that cause the most fatalities. 

The Focus Four (also called the Fatal Four) include: 

  • Falls 
  • Caught in or between objects 
  • Struck by objects 
  • Electrocution 

In Chicago, you can add a fifth cause — transportation accidents. 

Falls 

Nationwide, falls account for more than 36 percent of construction accidents, making them the top cause of construction injuries. Construction site falls include: 

  • Falls from roofs, ladders or scaffolds 
  • Falls through floor openings
  • Falls down stairs
  • Slip and falls
  • Trip and falls
  • Falls into holes 

OSHA guidelines require guardrails around elevated workplaces. But OSHA requires personal fall protection devices, like harnesses, only when they are needed to protect worker safety. As a result, many employers choose not to require safety harnesses. 

Caught In or Between Objects 

Construction workers may be caught by operating equipment, between a moving object and a stationary object or between two moving objects. 

Typical injuries that result from these accidents include: 

  • Crushing injuries 
  • Pinching injuries
  • Compression injuries 

These accidents typically happen when workers use unguarded tools. They can also happen when vehicles or materials roll into established walkways. 

Struck by Objects 

The difference between a “caught” accident and a “struck” accident is that in a caught accident, the injury comes from getting caught or pinned. In a struck accident, the impact alone causes the injury or fatality.  

These accidents happen when a moving object strikes the construction worker. OSHA further categorizes these accidents according to the motion of the object: 

  • Flying objects like ejected work material or tool blades 
  • Falling objects like construction materials 
  • Swinging objects like materials hanging from a crane 
  • Rolling objects like pipes or rocks 

Illinois combines the numbers for caught-in and struck-by accidents. In 2019, nearly 17 percent of construction accidents involved workers caught in or between objects or struck by objects. 

Electrocution 

Electrocution happens when a construction worker gets hit with an electric current. This can cause a wide range of injuries, including: 

  • Burns 
  • Heart damage 
  • Brain damage
  • Nerve damage 

Electrocution can happen during electrical work. It can also happen when an electrical system causes a floor, tool, vehicle or structure to become electrified. Finally, electrocution accidents can result from lightning strikes. 

Transportation Accidents 

Chicago’s top cause of construction accidents is not in the Focus Four. Transportation accidents caused more than 23 percent of construction industry deaths in 2019. 

Transportation accidents counted by OSHA do not include commuting accidents while going to or from construction sites. They include only those accidents that happen while workers are on the roads as part of construction work. These accidents include: 

  • Road construction accidents 
  • Vehicle accidents on construction sites 
  • Accidents while transporting or moving construction equipment 
  • Accidents while transporting building materials 
  • Accidents while moving workers from one site to another site 

These transportation accidents do not include accidents where workers were hit by, or pinned under, vehicles. Those accidents fall under the Focus Four categories of accidents. 

Chicago Construction Accident Victims

Nearly two-thirds of the victims of construction accidents in Illinois in 2020 were specialty trade contractors. Roofers were the most susceptible contractors to construction accidents because they work on elevated surfaces. They are also exposed to falling risks while ascending and descending. 

The rest of the accident victims included: 

  • Unskilled construction laborers
  • Construction managers
  • Engineers
  • Road construction workers 

Most accident victims were males between 35 and 64 years old and employees rather than business owners.  

Liability for Chicago Construction Accidents

In Illinois, construction workers are covered by workers’ compensation. Almost all employers in Illinois must carry workers’ compensation insurance. After an on-the-job injury, the insurer must pay workers’ compensation benefits to the injured worker. 

These benefits include: 

  • All reasonable and necessary medical expenses 
  • Two-thirds of your average weekly wage if you miss more than three days of work 

Unlike many states, Illinois allows injured workers to choose their doctor rather than using the doctor selected by the workers’ compensation insurer. 

To get workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois, you must report your accident within 45 days after the accident or after you realize you were injured.

Filing a Lawsuit After a Chicago Construction Accident

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means you receive workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who caused the accident. You can even get workers’ compensation benefits if you caused the accident. But the tradeoffs are: 

  • You cannot sue your employer for most construction accidents 
  • Workers’ compensation will not cover non-economic losses like pain and suffering 

But there is a way for you to recover the expenses that workers’ compensation will not cover, including your non-economic losses. Your employer’s immunity to lawsuits does not cover: 

  • Other contractors or subcontractors 
  • The building owner 
  • Tool and equipment manufacturers 
  • Vehicle manufacturers 

If any of these entities share in the responsibility for your accident, you can file a lawsuit against them and recover your additional economic and non-economic losses. 

To pursue a manufacturer for damages, you-or in many cases, an attorney-must show that the manufacturer produced a defective product. For example, a tool designed without a safety guard might have a design defect that makes the tool inherently dangerous. 

To recover compensation from other entities, proof of negligence is needed. This means they failed to act in a reasonably prudent manner and, as a result, you got injured. For example, an electrical contractor who incorrectly wired a house and electrified the pipes might owe compensation to a plumber who got electrocuted. An experienced attorney can investigate your situation and recommend a best course of action.  

$5.7 million

Settlement

for a 27-year-old Joliet, IL roofer in a workplace injury case who was paralyzed when he fell from a roof as a result of the general contractor’s failure to provide appropriate safety devices.

$600,000

Settlement

for a 47-year-old HVAC foreman who tripped over a piece of structural steel lying in a passageway of a construction site. The plaintiff fell on the piece of steel and suffered a severe back injury.

$1.5 Million

Settlement

for a 33-year-old man who sustained severe injuries after falling through a chimney stack opening that was not covered or marked on a residential construction site in Glencoe, Illinois.

Protecting Your Rights After a Chicago Construction Accident

After you or a loved one suffers a construction accident in Chicago, workers’ compensation benefits may not cover all of your losses. Many entities are involved in construction projects and you might have a claim against one or all of them. 

To learn about your legal right to recover compensation for a construction accident injury or death, schedule a free consultation with Levin & Perconti today. 

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