Falling from Roof
Falls from a roof, especially when it’s from a height greater than 10 feet, can be very serious, and sometimes they can even take someone’s life. Per the US Department of Labor, about 350 workers are killed each year because of falls from roofs. This is a little less than half of all deaths in the US on jobsites.
Workers who fall from roofs often suffer catastrophic injuries, including becoming paralyzed. In some cases, workers are killed or left in comas. Falls can occur from heights as low as four feet and greater than 20 feet. In cities like Seattle, Kirkland, Olympia, and Bellingham, there are many workers who suffer terrible falls and do not realize that they have the opportunity to achieve significant compensation for their injuries.Falling From Roof Washington State Laws
The law that governs fall protection for workers is the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act, known as WISHA.
WAC 296-155-24603 is the governing law in Washington State that explains to workers and employers how they must handle fall protection. The law states that any time there is a fall hazard that is greater than 10 feet the employer must identify this and put together a written plan on how to deal with it. There must be a method of fall protection. The law is also clear that if a worker is working higher than four feet off the ground, the worker needs to be furnished by some kind of fall protection.
There are three different kinds of ways that a worker can keep from falling:
- A fall arrest
- A fall restraint
- A fall positioning.
All three can preventive measures to keep a worker from falling. Oftentimes, falls can be prevented completely if a worker is given a harness to wear and the harness is connected to a pole or a stake of some kind. However, on some jobsites the owner of the property or the general contractor fails to provide enough harnesses and safety equipment to the workers.
It is very important a written planning document in which the employer identifies all areas on the job site where a fall hazard of 10 feet or more exists. The plan describes the method or methods of fall protection to be used to protect employees, and includes the procedures governing the installation, use, inspection, and removal of the fall protection method or methods which are selected by the employer.
The applicable WAC governing fall hazards for falls greater than 10 feet states that the fall protection work plan must point out the fall hazards, describe the kind of fall arrest or prevention that will be provided, describe the fall protection system, describe the storage of tools and materials, and describe the method of providing overhead protection for workers who pass through a worksite, as well as how to safely remove workers from a site.
If you have been injured by a jobsite fall of 4 or 10 feet, or greater than 10 feet, you may have a legal claim against the owner of the property or the general contractor. If you have been injured on the job, you have one of two options in order to secure a recovery for your injuries. First, you may to be able to turn to L&I.
L&I stands for Labor and Industries and they are a division of Washington State. They will pay you a portion of your time loss and, if you are eligible, you can receive a financial settlement for your injuries, which is called a permanent partial disability award (PPD award). This amount is based on the percentage of your disability.
The particular thing about a L&I case is that you don’t have to prove that anyone was at fault. L&I does not care who was at fault. You can receive benefits from L&I regardless of who was at fault. Even you could be at fault. All that matters is that you were on the job when you got hurt. While the settlement you will receive L&I may not be much money, it can at least be something for you.
The second option you have is what is called a third party settlement. A third party settlement is only available when a party other than your employer caused your accident. So if there was another company, such as a general contractor, that was partly or entirely responsible for how the accident was created, then you can sue the general contractor just like you could sue someone who struck you with their car.
If you have to sue the general contractor, or a subcontractor, then you have to prove that they were somehow negligent and caused your injuries. This is very different from L&I obviously, where, again, you don’t have to prove fault. With a third party case, the burden of proof is on you. This means you may have to hire a certain kind of expert to prove your version of events are in fact correct. These cases may not be easy to win, but the financial reward may be much greater than with a L&I case.
If this second option is available to you, there is no reason why you can’t have both a L&I case and a third party case. The reason this is the case is that you are not suing your employer, which is not allowed when L&I is involved. Instead, you’re suing a company other than your employer, which is allowed. However, L&I will likely ask that you repay a portion of your legal settlement that is reserved for medical bills back to L&I.
While the party that injured you, whether it be a general or subcontractor, may have violated any number of laws, it is important to identify at least one. In addition, you may be able to just point to the fact that the defendant either knew or should have known there was a problem with their worksite in terms of it not being safe.
If you have suffered an electric shock on the job and suffered serious injuries, feel free to speak to The Jackman Law Firm for a free consultation.Common Falling From Roof Injuries
If you have been injured on the job or at a construction site, you may have suffered a number of serious injuries. Among them are:
- Broken bones
- Back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Knee injuries
After injuring yourself in a construction accident, it is doubtful the injury will just heal on its own. Rather, you will have to see a doctor or specialist, such as a chiropractor, osteopath, primary doctor, or surgeon in order to get back to health. Delaying to get medical care is not advisable. Please seek immediately medical care in order to treat your injuries.How The Jackman Law Firm Can Help
Falls from any height, but especially falls from heights greater than six or seven feet, can be catastrophic in nature. For those fortunate few who survive, there can be lifelong trauma and years of recovery that lay ahead. Fortunately, workers in this state are allowed to recover money for their damages. These damages can be summarized as follows: money for medical bills, lost wages, future wages, loss of consortium, and out of pocket expenses. A loss of consortium claim is a claim that allows your spouse or legal partner to bring a claim for the loss of enjoyment of your relationship. If you have questions about this, feel free to call us for a free consultation.
The biggest battle, with respect to your damages, will be over the amount of money you should receive in pain and suffering, which is an amount that is meant to compensate you for not being able to enjoy life like you did pre-accident. There is no precise formula or law on the books that will tell you exactly how much you should receive. It’s a very subjective determination that you need to have an attorney fight for you to receive, so you receive the absolute most amount of money that you can for your case.
In addition to helping you obtain damages for your case, meaning money, we can also help prove that you are fault-free in the case. Why is this important? It’s important for two reasons. First, it’s important because you cannot get to the point in your case of arguing how much money you should receive until you first are able to prove that you were less than 50% at fault. The law in Washington State is clear with respect to this. Second, there may be instances when the insurance company for the construction company attempts to blame you for the accident or blame someone else for the accident. If this is the case, then you need an attorney who has the requisite cadre of experts to help on your case.
The Jackman Law Firm has these experts. We can help you prove the liability side of your case and help you get the money you are owed for your case. If you have questions, feel free to call us for a free consultation.