It’s no secret that construction workers face numerous hazards on the job and are one the most likely workers to suffer a workplace injury. Roofers -- working at a dangerous height -- are at a particular risk for injury and not just from falls. If a roofer is injured on the job, understanding what party may be liable and what the options are for compensation can be complex.
Types of Roofer Accidents and Injuries
Falls are the leading cause of construction site accidents resulting in injury or death and accounted for more than 31% of all construction fatalities, according to the Occupational Health Safety Administration (OSHA). Workers on roofs, scaffolding and ladders more than six feet above the ground are at greatest risk for serious injury or death.
While falls account for the majority of roofing accidents, roofers are also at risk for accidental injury when climbing up and down a ladder or scaffolding. Tools and equipment can also pose hazards for accidents as can overhead electrical wires. Additionally, the physical movements of bedding, twisting and crouching awkwardly for hours at a time can cause chronic conditions and injury over time.
Causes of Roofing Accidents
Roofing accidents are caused by a number of factors, many of which are preventable, including:
Inadequate safety protection. Both New Jersey and New York have laws that require employers at construction sites to provide adequate scaffolding, ladders, ropes & pulleys, safety goggles and other equipment to all employees. Depending on the job site, the employer, general contractor or other entity could be liable for injuries that occur because of the lack of safety equipment.
Known hazards. Whether it's an overhead electrical wire, holes in the roof or open ducts, there are many hazards to workers on top of a roof. Contractors, employers and property owners have a duty to alert roofers and others of any known hazards such as open ducts, holes, rotted wood or live wires.
Negligence. Other negligent behavior that can cause roofing accidents include workers who are intoxicated or using drugs, posing hazards to those around them. In other scenarios, an employer may be egregiously negligent in their lack of regard for worker safety and acceptance of certain types of behavior.
Manufacturer defects. If safety equipment fails or a machine malfunctions, it may be that the products were defective and failed, thus causing the accident.
Liability in Roofing Accidents
Roofers may be self-employed, an employee of a roofing company and/or hired by a general contractor on a job site. The employment arrangement and the cause of the accident are important factors in determining liability for a roofing accident. Possible liable parties include your employer, a general contractor or a third party, like a manufacturer.
Your best bet after a roofing accident is to consult an attorney who can evaluate your case and advise you of your options.
Employer Liability and Workers Compensation
Many workers are covered by workers compensation after a workplace accident. Workers comp is a no-fault system which means workers can receive benefits for medical expenses and at least some portion of their lost income, regardless of who is at fault in the accident.
Important to note, by filing a workers’ compensation claim, employees are barred from filing a separate lawsuit against their employer. However, there are some exceptions. In most states, when the injury was a result of the employer’s negligence or intentional misconduct, you may be entitled to a full range of damages that are not available in the worker's compensation system, such as pain and suffering and other damages.
Third Party Claims
While workers’ compensation bars you from filing a lawsuit against your employer, there may be other parties liable for a roofing accident. This could be a general contractor, property owner or a manufacturer. By filing a third party claim for a roofing accident, you can collect money for damages beyond the limitation of the workers compensation system. In some cases, this could mean compensation for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, or even punitive damages.
Get Help After a Roofing Accident
If you’ve been injured in a roofing accident, you should contact an attorney who will review your case and offer options to seek the maximum amount of compensation. Liability and your options for workers comp or an injury claim may be hard to decipher on your own.
At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, we are dedicated to assisting clients throughout New Jersey and New York with their injury cases. We have years of experience in both workers compensation and third party claims. Our top-rated attorney team has the extensive resources you need to secure a fair case result. If you or a loved one has been injured in a roofing accident, contact us immediately to discuss your case.