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Do I Need a Lawyer After a Trench Collapse in Boston?
Construction sites can be hazardous. Workers can get injured or killed by falling into trenches, getting hit by falling materials, or getting buried underneath soil when a trench wall caves in. Accidents can occur for numerous reasons, including the negligence of employers, subcontractors, property owners, and others.
Having an experienced attorney by your side after a trench collapse in Boston can be crucial if you suffer severe injuries. Our motivated injury attorneys can help determine who is responsible for the accident and hold them accountable. Filing a lawsuit can be critical if your workers’ compensation benefits fall short in covering all your expenses and lost wages, or you cannot claim workers’ compensation. Contact us today at (877) 607-1071 or fill in our online form to schedule a free consultation.
Reasons for Trench Collapses
Trench work is a necessary part of most construction projects. Often, trenches are dug for service cables and pipes. However, construction trenches can be uncomfortable and dangerous work environments. An unexpectedly collapsing trench can lead to terrible consequences, causing injuries and wrongful deaths.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trenching involves considerable hazards to all workers involved. According to OSHA, cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are more likely than other construction accidents to result in fatalities. Trenches can collapse for various reasons, but most involve an incorrectly constructed trench. Other causes of trench collapses and worker injuries can include:
Digging a trench through unstable soil can dramatically increase the risk of a collapse. Before work on a trench begins, the responsible person should inspect the site and test the soil. Based on soil test results, employers should consider measures such as sloping or benching of the trench walls. Cave-ins due to unstable ground can bury workers alive and cause fatal or life-changing injuries.
Disturbing Overhead or Underground Services
Excavation and trench work below service cables should be avoided, if possible. Damaging buried services such as electricity or gas cables can cause fires and explosions, potentially causing trench collapse and damage to nearby structures. Such accidents can cause serious burns and other injuries.
Undermining Nearby Structures
Trenches can undermine nearby structures, such as scaffold footings, buildings, or walls. Structures can collapse when undermined, potentially leading to the trench walls collapsing and objects falling on those working in the trench.
A prolonged rain event and flooding can compromise the stability of trench walls, causing them to cave in. Flooded conditions can also make working in the trench unsafe due to the potential for slipping or sinking into the rain-saturated ground. Rain or groundwater can also make it tricky for workers to get in and out of the trench.
Heavy Construction Equipment Nearby
Employers, supervisors, and contractors on construction sites must take care when using heavy equipment near a trench. Equipment or vehicles being operated nearby can potentially cause soil vibration, leading to trench collapses.
Other Trench Accidents
Cave-ins are not the only cause of accidents and injuries in trenches. Other reasons for injuries can include:
- Falling objects from outside of the trench
- Hazardous fumes from petrol or diesel-engine equipment nearby
- Dangers from mobile construction equipment.
Almost all reasons for trench collapses and other accidents are avoidable with adequate risk assessments and by taking certain precautions. If an employer fails to ensure construction site safety, they could be responsible for workers’ injuries and damages. Injured workers usually need a lawyer to assess their case and help them move forward with a lawsuit. A personal injury attorney at Morgan & Morgan can determine whether you have a case against an employer or another liable party.
Employers Could Be Responsible
Employers or construction site supervisors should inspect the worksite and trenches daily to ensure there are no dangers to workers. Employers have various tools available helping to prevent a trench cave-in, such as:
- Sloping the sides of the trench
- Supporting the sides of the trench
- Using a trench box or shield to protect workers from cave-ins
- Inspecting trenches regularly and halting work if necessary
- Inspecting trenches after an event such as heavy rain or a rockfall
Employers are responsible for providing a reasonably safe and healthy work environment. However, suing an employer can be tricky as workers are usually prevented from legal action due to workers’ compensation insurance. However, if your employer was grossly negligent or violated OSHA regulations, you could have a case. You could also file a lawsuit and seek compensation if a third party, such as another contractor, caused the trench collapse. An injury lawyer at Morgan & Morgan can assess your case and walk you through your potential legal options.
Common Injuries in Trench Collapses
Construction site accidents such as trench collapses can cause serious and debilitating injuries, including but not limited to:
- Broken bones
- Lost limbs
- Head and brain injuries
- Exposure to toxic chemicals and fumes
- Crush injuries
If you suffered significant or life-changing injuries due to a trench collapse in Boston, get in touch with us. The responsible party or their insurer should pay for your damages such as lost wages and medical bills. Our personal injury lawyers can help you learn about your rights and options for holding the responsible party accountable and recovering compensation.
Your Next Best Steps After Getting Injured in a Trench Collapse
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim Immediately
After getting hurt in a trench collapse, inform your employer right away and promptly file a workers’ comp claim. Injured construction workers typically qualify for certain benefits such as medical bills, lost wages, and more. However, workers’ compensation does not cover any pain and suffering you experienced due to your injury. It is also important to note that independent contractors generally do not qualify for workers’ comp payments.
Determine the Liable Party
Depending on who is responsible for your accident, you could be entitled to damages in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. For example, if a third party caused the trench collapse, you could potentially sue and receive compensation for pain and suffering, reduced life quality, and other damages. Third parties could be property owners, manufacturers of construction site machinery, subcontractors, and others. Since determining all liable parties in an accident can be challenging and may require professional accident investigators, consider hiring an attorney to help with your case.
Find Out if You Could Sue an Employer
Workers’ compensation insurance pays benefits to injured workers and protects employers from lawsuits. Therefore, injured employees normally cannot sue an employer. However, there are some exceptions, including:
- Your employer does not have workers’ comp coverage
- Your employer negligently caused the trench collapse
An attorney at Morgan & Morgan can help determine whether you could sue your employer.
Morgan & Morgan
How Can Morgan & Morgan Help Injured Trench Collapse Victims?
Knowing what to do when you get injured at work can be confusing. However, Morgan & Morgan is only a call away. We can determine whether you have a case and what your next best steps are. Moving forward, we could help you get the medical treatments you need and fight for the benefits and settlement you deserve. We could help you recover workers’ compensation benefits and damages from the party responsible for causing your accident and injuries.
Having the largest personal injury firm in the country by your side can give you peace of mind. We have the resources and tenacity to handle even tough cases from beginning to end. Morgan & Morgan’s lawyers never settle for less and always fight for maximum recovery. Importantly, we want to make sure you are not left out of pocket in the future and fight hard for a settlement that covers your medical bills and expenses for the rest of your life.
Which Damages Could I Recover After a Boston Trench Collapse?
Since every construction accident case is unique, generalizing about a settlement amount is problematic. However, you could potentially receive awards for the following damages, among others:
- Healthcare costs and future medical expenses
- Lost wages and future lost earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of a limb or a sense
- Reduced life quality
- Permanent disability
Occasionally, victims in construction accidents can recover punitive damages if the defendant acted particularly maliciously in causing an accident.
When Should I File a Work Injury Lawsuit in Massachusetts?
According to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 260, Section 2A, injured victims generally have three years to bring a personal injury lawsuit. If you miss this deadline, you may not be able to file a lawsuit and pursue compensation.
On the other hand, filing too soon could also work against you. It is generally recommended to wait with filing a lawsuit until recovery is complete or the victim has reached maximum recovery. Your medical providers may have a hard time estimating future medical treatments if the full consequences of your injuries are not yet clear.
Since the timing of a lawsuit can be tricky yet vitally important for recovering what you need, consider speaking to a personal injury attorney who can advise you comprehensively.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit if My Spouse Died in a Trench Collapse?
You could potentially file a wrongful death case if your spouse or close relative tragically died in a construction accident. Wrongful death can cause unprecedented financial hardship for the entire family. If someone else is responsible for the accident and death of your loved one, you could be entitled to:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills before death
- Awards for pain and suffering
- Awards for loss of companionship
- Loss of income from the deceased
- Loss of service and benefits from the decedent
You could also recover other damages. Our compassionate attorneys can be here for you if you suffer the loss of a loved one in a work accident.
I Have Some Fault in the Trench Collapse; Could I Receive Compensation?
Even if you have a fault in your work accident, you would still be entitled to workers’ compensation as benefits are based on a no-fault system. Injured workers do not have to prove another’s fault to qualify for the program. This means that even if you are partially or wholly to blame for an accident, you could still collect workers’ comp.
However, in Massachusetts, the amount of compensation you can recover in a lawsuit could be reduced according to your degree of fault. As long as your degree of fault is 50 percent or less, you could receive some compensation from the at-fault party. However, if your degree of fault is 51 percent or more, you cannot recover compensation. Since the percentage of fault can be somewhat subjective, having an attorney by your side can be critical for protecting your rights.
Seeking legal advice promptly can be crucial if you have some fault in the accident. The other party, their insurance company, and attorneys may try to blame you for the work accident unfairly. Moreover, a jury or judge will determine your degree of fault in a trial. A personal injury lawyer at Morgan & Morgan can be by your side and ensure your degree of fault is assessed fairly.
Contact Us Now for Help
Morgan & Morgan understands that injury victims and their families have a lot on their plates. You may be dealing with life-altering injuries, steep medical bills, loss of income, and other issues. Filing a lawsuit on top of everything else can seem overwhelming.
However, you are not alone. Our determined and experienced personal injury lawyers are ready to fight vigorously for what you and your family deserve. The sooner you start the process of getting justice, the sooner you could receive a settlement check that can help with paying your bills and moving on with your life after getting injured in a trench collapse in Boston. The fee is free unless we win and you receive compensation. Contact us today for free legal advice.