Florida Construction Injury Lawyer: Woman Challenges Conviction for Murder of Two Construction Workers

Brandon Stein

As a Broward car accident lawyer, one aspect of the law that I rarely venture into is the criminal arena.  In most car accidents, the culpable party is often times cited with a traffic offense.  Additionally, on rare occasions, the driver that is at fault is sometimes arrested and faced with criminal charges.

Back in 2007, a driver was arrested and charged with two counts of reckless second-degree murder and one count of aggravated battery for killing two construction workers. Those two workers had been performing construction on U.S. Highway 59.  According to reports, a flagger had been on site to direct traffic through the zone, but the driver allegedly drove past the flagger and sped through the construction site.  As a result, two construction workers were put in harms way and, unfortunately, the car traveling 51 mph through the construction site struck and killed the 30 year old and 24 year old.

Yesterday, the lawyer for that driver convicted in 2008 and sentenced to 26 years in prison argued that the state wrongfully imprisoned the woman.  Her lawyer claims that during the trial the instructions given by the judge to the jury created a prejudice against the driver.  Arguments will continue tomorrow in Douglas County District Court.

There are few guarantees in life, but in Florida, I can guarantee that a construction site is present on some roadway or highway, and that you will have to drive through the zone in order to get to where you want to go.  As a result, the State of Florida and the Department of Transportation sets forth strict guidelines for operating a construction site when traffic is expected to pass through — as further illustrated in my post from August 28, 2012.

Thankfully, the State of Florida and the Department of Transportation takes construction site safety very seriously and enforces its rules and regulations in order to prevent injury to our construction workers and you, the public.  Yet, drivers often feel that the lower speed limits handcuff them and force them to drive at a snails pace through a construction zone.  The case mentioned above supports the fact that lowered speed limits and strict regulations for traveling through a construction zone are in place for a reason — to save lives.

If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident, please contact us today.

By: Brandon Stein

Florida Construction Injury Lawyer: Construction Worker Killed in Interstate Car Accident

Brandon Stein

As a South Florida personal injury lawyer, I consistently find in my practice that construction workers are frequently injured from car accidents.  Specifically, cars travelling too fast through a construction zone often strike and severely injure workers.  This was most likely the case when a Texas Concrete and Asphalt worker was killed late last Wednesday night after being hit by a car while working on a construction site on Interstate-10 in West El Paso, Texas.

Upon hearing of this tragedy, the construction worker’s employer had conveyed messages to the public that those driving through construction sites and/or construction work zones must exercise caution and drive slowly.  Additionally, of utmost importance is for drivers to adhere to traffic control warning signs, as well as construction workers directing traffic through a construction site.

When tragedy strikes, such as the car accident mentioned above, the first one to blame is often the driver of the car.  Not to say that the driver does not bear most of the liability for injuring a construction worker, but the driver is not the only one to blame.

In many cases that I handle involving construction workers injured from car accidents, the construction company is to blame as well.  But the construction company was not the one driving the car — how can you possibly blame them?

For construction projects that are ongoing for a long period of time where it is not feasible to close down an entire roadway, traffic must be able to ambulate through the construction site while work is being performed.  Therefore, it is the responsibility of the construction company in charge of the project to ensure that certain engineering plans are in place, and properly implemented, so that the safety of the construction workers is preserved.

In the construction industry, these plans are known as Traffic Control Plans or Maintenance of Traffic Plans.  When tragedy strikes at a construction site, and a construction worker is injured as a result of a car accident, one of the first places you want to inspect is the Traffic Control Plan for the project.  The Traffic Control Plan sets forth procedures that enable traffic to flow through a dangerous construction site.  Often times, the plan utilizes detours, signage, and even construction workers or public officials to guide traffic through construction zones.  So, when you are traveling through a construction zone and notice detour signs — now you know that the detours are there by virtue of a Traffic Control Plan for that particular construction project.

However, in many construction site injury cases that I litigate, injuries often occur because of two main reasons: (1) a Traffic Control Plan was in place, but was not followed by the construction company; or (2) a Traffic Control Plan was in place, was followed by the construction company, but the plan was deficient for a variety of reasons — thus causing injury.  Ultimately, the construction company has a responsibility to provide for the safety of its construction workers while cars are traveling through the site.

Now, under most circumstances, the key person to blame for a car accident occurring in a construction site is the driver of the vehicle.  As mentioned above, the construction company operating the construction site may certainly be liable as well.  In many construction site injury cases, the more digging you do, and the more you inspect the records and plans pertaining to the construction project, the more likely it is that you may just find that the construction company was operating a dangerous construction site. Simply stated, the operation of a dangerous construction site leads to injuries to construction workers.

If you or someone you know was injured, please contact us today so that you get the help and proper representation that you deserve.

 By: Brandon Stein

Florida Construction Injury Lawyer: Woman Awarded $1 Million in Lawsuit Against Construction Companies

As a Miami lawyer who sues construction companies, a common question many clients have is: “Who do I sue?”  While this may sound like an easy question to answer, when you are dealing with highly funded complex projects with multiple construction companies involved, the task is certainly difficult to determine who is responsible.  On most occasions, the client will come into my office, tell me the story of how he or she was injured, yet stalls when I pose the question: “Who wronged you?”  In construction site accidents, often times it is a bit hazy as to who is responsible for causing damage to the client.  The answer, more times than not, is that multiple construction companies are responsible.  This was most likely an issue that an Etowah County, Alabama jury was tasked with deciding prior to rendering a $1 million verdict.

In 2007, an Alabama woman was working at a local restaurant when she suffered a slip and fall injury as a result of a manhole cover extending nearly an inch off the ground.  The woman suffered injuries that required a fusion in her neck, rods in her back, and a lifetime of constant pain.  According to local media reports, two construction companies were apparently involved in the construction of the restaurant, as well as the surrounding area.

So, two questions: (1) Who to sue? (2) Who wronged the woman?  The lawyer of the injured worker answered these questions by suing two construction companies, rather than the injured woman’s employer.  These construction companies were named in this lawsuit because the manhole that was left elevated nearly an inch above the ground certainly rises to the level of a dangerous condition — i.e. a tripping hazard for the general public, including the injured worker.

While reports do not delve into the specifics of the injured worker’s argument against the construction companies, I would speculate that a key component to that argument is a breach of the duty of care owed by the two defendants.  The elements of proving a slip and fall claim in Florida are explained in a previous post from August 16, 2012.  Nevertheless, when construction companies are hired to perform work to repair, rebuild, or renovate an area, implied within every contract is that the work will be performed in a reasonably safe manner.  This includes when the job is complete, the newly constructed area must be reasonably safe for public access — assuming of course the construction site area is intended to be open to the public.

Even when a construction project is complete, liability for an injury occurring at the newly constructed area can still fall in the hands of the construction company.  When a person hires a lawyer after suffering a slip and fall injury, car accident injury, or any type of injury for that matter, a key consideration must be whether the incident occurred at a construction site — or at the location of a recently completed construction project. Unfortunately, many slip and fall cases or car accident cases are resolved without bringing in all necessary parties.  Sadly, the one who suffers the most in the end is the injured person for not recovering the full value of their claim.

 By: Brandon Stein

Florida Construction Injury Lawyer: Worker Injured After Hand Crushed in Piece of Machinery

This past week a construction worker was injured while working on a construction site in Newfoundland, Canada.  According to reports, the worker had been using a piece of equipment during the course of construction at an apartment complex when his hand got caught within the machinery.  The construction worker was reported not to have lost consciousness and was in stable condition before being transported to a local hospital.  At this juncture, it is unclear whether any safety violations were committed by the worker’s construction company, but authorities state that the investigation is ongoing.

As a Miami construction site injury lawyer, I frequently observe construction companies operating heavy machinery and high risk equipment in an unsafe fashion.  In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) is a government agency empowered to set down specific regulations for construction companies to abide by when operating construction sites.  Additionally, these regulations are aimed at protecting and ensuring the safety of our construction workers.

OSHA inspectors are charged with overseeing hundreds of thousands of construction sites throughout this country, including the enforcement of OSHA safety standards and regulations.  So, what happens if a construction company fails to follow these regulations?  An OSHA violation is slapped on the hands of the offending construction company.  Yet, a construction company can easily prevent this occurrence by participating and being active in OSHA’s training, outreach, and education programs.

OSHA offers a specific outreach training program for the construction industry as a whole. Construction workers are encouraged to attend these seminars on construction site safety, as well as other highly useful tools.  Not to mention, OSHA also offers separate courses for entry level construction workers in addition to courses offered for supervisors with safety responsibilities on job sites.

Ultimately, OSHA’s goal is to raise the awareness of construction site safety.  The first step to achieve this goal is to increase the knowledge of construction workers and place them on notice that their career choice is a dangerous one that could lead to significant life-threatening injuries, if not death.

Let me be clear that I am not asserting that the construction site injury mentioned above rises to the level of an OSHA violation had the construction accident occurred in the United States.  Construction site accidents happen and construction workers assume this risk the first day they step foot on a construction site.  But we can certainly avoid many construction accidents if OSHA safety regulations are strictly followed.

By: Brandon Stein

Florida Construction Injury Lawyer: Construction Worker Sues U.S. Over Electrocution

As a Miami personal injury lawyer who sues construction companies for negligence, news that two construction workers electrocuted on the job are suing for their injuries is not shocking to me — no pun intended.

The news broke this past weekend when a lawsuit was filed by the two injured construction workers for injuries sustained while working on a project on Beale Air Force Base for the United States government.  The construction workers had been manipulating reinforcement bar, or “rebar” for short, as part of a larger scale project on October 17, 2011.  According to the allegations of the lawsuit, this project took place near an electrical substation on the air force base.

While working on the construction site manipulating the rebar, one worker was electrocuted from a shock originating from the electrical substation.  Additionally, the other worker had witnessed the electrocution first hand — seeing flames engulf the body of his co-worker, which left him with no choice but to extinguish the fiery blaze that took over the worker’s body.  Thankfully, the construction worker that fell victim to this electrocution survived, but suffered major burns to half his body — including third degree burns.  The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California on July 25, 2012 against the United States of America.

Naturally, after a significant construction site injury to a worker by way of electrocution, as seen above, a lawsuit undoubtedly follows claiming wrongful conduct of the construction site supervisor.  In many instances, negligent conduct of the site supervisor is alleged by the injured construction worker.  Note: this of course may not be the case in Florida due to Workers’ Compensation Immunity (see post from August 18, 2012).

In most cases of alleged construction site negligence, the supervisor of construction workers has a duty to ensure the reasonable safety of workers performing certain tasks on a project site.  Additionally, the supervisor must take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent injury to construction workers.

Now, when construction site accidents occur and lawsuits follow, the site supervisor often is to blame for breaching the duty of care owed to his or her construction workers.  What is a breach you may ask?  Simply stated, a breach, in legal terms of course, is failing to do something that you should have done – or– doing something that you should not have done.

Lastly, this breach must have been the cause of the injury suffered by the construction worker.  In other words, the injured construction worker must prove that the damages he or she suffered were a direct result of the breach of the duty owed by the construction site supervisor to his or her workers.

This often turns into a lengthy and contentious battle for south Florida personal injury lawyers to overcome, as construction companies are represented by some of the top law firms in the country.  However, it is a fight that is worth fighting by those injured on construction sites to ultimately receive the compensation that they deserve.

By: Brandon Stein 

Florida Construction Injury Lawyer: Injured on the job? Florida says think twice before suing your employer

As a Florida personal injury lawyer who sues employers, the Florida legislature has made it extremely difficult bring a lawsuit when injured on the job.  Essentially, as long as the employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, an employee injured on the job cannot bring a lawsuit claiming employer negligence.  Simply put, in order to successfully bring a claim against an employer, the conduct must rise to the level of an intentional tort.

According to Florida statute section 440.11, when an employee has been injured on the job, and the employer carriers Workers’ Compensation Insurance, the employee must prove one of the following:

1. The employer deliberately intended to injure the employee; or
2. The employer engaged in conduct that the employer knew, based on prior similar accidents or on explicit warnings specifically identifying a known danger, was virtually certain to result in injury or death to the employee, and the employee was not aware of the risk because the danger was not apparent and the employer deliberately concealed or misrepresented the danger so as to prevent the employee from exercising informed judgment about whether to perform the work.

In just about every case litigated in Florida against an injured person’s employer, the lawyer for the employer raises the affirmative defense of workers’ compensation immunity — relying upon the above mentioned Florida statute.  Additionally, in nearly every case for a personal injury lawyer in Florida, the burden rests on the injured person to produce evidence to prove his or her case.  As intimidating as the statute quoted above is to read and comprehend, even more overwhelming is the fact that the injured person must provide sufficient evidence in order to satisfy that statute.

Getting injured on the job, incurring a significant amount of hospital bills, missing work, and completely altering your lifestyle because of injury is hard enough.  Yet, the Florida legislature continues to make it increasingly difficult to recover a damage award against your employer.  Perhaps the reasoning behind the enactment of this statute is to prevent the injured person from recovering both workers’ compensation benefits from the employer’s insurance carrier, and a personal injury damage award from the employer itself.

Every injured person has the right for his or her day in court.  However, this statute prevents Florida personal injury lawyers from pursuing a negligence claim against an employer on behalf of an injured employee.  Several cases have been heard by Florida appeals courts and the Florida Supreme Court surrounding the issue of whether the injured employee has submitted enough evidence against his or her employer.  The bottom line is that it all comes down to the evidence and testimony that is elicited by the lawyer of the injured employee.

Florida statute section 440.11 does not completely bar all claims against an injured employee’s employer, but it certainly does not make it easy.  While Florida law makes it difficult, and employers always hide behind this workers’ compensation immunity statute, I urge all workers that are injured on the job to pursue a personal injury claim against your employer — albeit a difficult claim.  Because when it comes down to it — what other choice do you have?

By: Brandon Stein

Florida Construction Injury Lawyer: B.C. Court Awards Man $680,000 After Fall at Vancouver Airport

The subject of a recently concluded lawsuit was a 60 year old native of British Columbia who was injured back in December 2006 after returning from a flight at the Vancouver International Airport.  Upon boarding a shuttle bus at the airport, the man lodged his foot between two steel plates located on the roadway — causing him to fall injuring his right leg and foot.  The extent and precise nature of the 60 year old’s injury has not been disclosed.

However, we do know that this married man was active and frequently enjoyed activities such as hiking, golfing, walking, and vacationing in the Caribbean.  Yet, post accident, all the man wants to do is sit and rest because of the significant amount of pain.  All of these factors had been raised during the course of this litigation.

How did the Vancouver airport and construction company respond to these allegations?  By denying that they owed the man any duty of care, while asserting that the area was reasonably safe for the public to travel.  Those defendants, the airport and construction company, argued that the 60 year old was injured as a result of his own negligence.  Nevertheless, the judge ultimately ruled that the two defendants were liable by breaching their duty to ensure the area was safe to travel.  Recently, a hefty $680,000 was awarded to the injured man for this slip and fall on a construction site.

As a slip and fall lawyer in Miami who sues construction companies, I find it extremely important to note that this roadway had been under construction at the time.  The Vancouver International Airport and the construction company hired to perform this job bears most, if not all, responsibility to maintain and keep safe the area under construction.  While the laws surrounding premises liability (i.e. slip and fall) differ from state to state, and country to country for that matter, the one constant factor to consider is whether the owner or operator of the premises owes a duty of care to keep the area reasonably safe for the general public.  Typically, when you are dealing with an area that is open to the public, the owner or operator of that location owes this duty of care.  In the State of Florida, statute §768.0755 codifies the requirements for an injured party to prove a slip and fall case against a property owner or operator.  In short, when a person slips and falls on a foreign substance, he or she must first prove that the dangerous condition was known or should have been known by the property owner or operator.  Also, the business owner must take ordinary and reasonable care to keep the area safe for the general public.

Business owners, as well as construction companies, constantly weasel around this statute hoping to free themselves from liability for significant slip and fall injuries.  For this very reason, I cannot stress how vital it is to immediately contact a personal injury lawyer if you should ever suffer an injury as a result of a slip and fall.

If you or someone you know was injured in a construction site injury or a slip and fall, please contact us today.

By: Brandon Stein

Florida Construction Injury Lawyer: Construction Worker Injured After Cement Mixer Collapses

As a Miami personal injury lawyer, often times the most catastrophic injuries that I come across occur at or near construction sites.

This past Friday a construction worker in Vilonia, Arkansas was working on a project at a local high school to build a safe room.  The worker had been employed by a construction company sub-contracted to perform brick and block work.  School officials had indicated that the primary contractor on the project hired the injured construction worker’s company.  While working on the project, the worker was utilizing a cement mixer stand.  During the course of that construction, the commercial cement mixer collapsed and had landed on top of the worker.  Authorities say that a piece of equipment such as a cement mixer can easily weigh approximately 1000 pounds.  The injured construction worker was transported via helicopter to Little Rock hospital and is said to be in stable condition.

While this may appear to be your run of the mill construction site accident, a common question arises when construction workers are injured on projects involving multiple contractors.  Which contractor is responsible for the injury?  The simple answer — it depends.  Rather than delving into a whole drawn out legal analysis regarding contractor/sub-contractor law, it often times comes down to safety rules.  That’s right.  Safety rules.

Generally, laws are in place to protect and ensure your safety, as well as the safety of our construction workers.  On many highly funded construction projects, a general or primary contractor is hired, but then needs to hire sub-contractors to assist with the successful completion of the project.  That was most likely the case with the Vilonia project mentioned above.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Florida Department of Transportation sets forth certain safety standards that construction companies are required to follow.  During the course of my practice in construction site injury litigation, a key component to uncover is whether or not the defendant, construction company, followed safety regulations.  I find it baffling at how often construction companies fail to take into account safety policies.  In fact, many are lackadaisical in their training of employees, including work site supervisors, about these safety regulations.  Sadly, the ones who are injured are the construction workers that are unaware of the numerous safety violations committed by their employer.

By no means am I contending that the cement mixer accident was due to safety violations by the contractors employed on the Vilonia project.  However, if a situation such as the accident in Vilonia should ever proceed toward litigation, it is imperative for the injured construction worker to investigate whether any safety rules have been violated.

By: Brandon Stein

Florida Construction Injury Lawyer: Construction Worker Barely Escapes Death

As a South Florida Construction Site Injury Lawyer, I handle all different types of cases involving injured construction workers – including cases involving burn victims.

Early Thursday morning a construction worker was placing concrete in a driveway in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.  The piece of equipment the construction worker had been utilizing was a skid-loader.  A skid-loader is a small engine powered machine often used to lift mass quantities and for digging.  Just before this construction site accident, another worker had noticed a gasoline scent protruding from the skid-loader.  Naturally, that worker attempted to take the lid off of the gasoline tank only to allow an excessive amount of gasoline to drench the victim.  Shortly thereafter, the construction company continued work on that project.  However, the gasoline soaked construction worker was apparently tasked to operate the skid-loader.  According to local authorities, an unknown ignition source lit the gasoline soaked construction victim while he was using the loader.  Nearly 20% of his body suffered significant burns.  He was flown to a local hospital for further treatment.

It is very important to note that on just about every construction project, a job site supervisor is on the premises and tasked to oversee the successful and safe completion of a project.  The previously mentioned tragedy that occurred in Cumberland County appears to be an avoidable accident.  When a situation arises on the construction site that may possibly lead to injury or death of an employee, it is the responsibility of the supervisor to eliminate any and all dangerous conditions.

Now, using the above situation involving the construction burn victim as an example, under no circumstances should the job site supervisor have allowed that worker to continue working after being doused with gasoline.  When using a piece of mechanical equipment such as a skid-loader, it is only a matter of time before some type of ignition source comes into contact with highly flammable gasoline soaked clothing.  This type of careless and reckless supervision is the reason why our construction workers are constantly falling victim to construction site tragedies.

By: Brandon Stein

Florida Construction Injury Lawyer: Electrocution Victim Found Dead in Duluth

As a lawyer who sues construction companies, I find it disturbing that fatal accidents continue to occur during construction projects.  I am extremely saddened by the news that a 38 year old construction worker in Duluth, Minnesota fell victim to a deadly electrocution.  The 38 year old had been working on a home in Duluth just prior to emergency crews and local police arriving on scene.  However, upon arrival at the scene, the construction worker was unconscious, not breathing, and had no pulse.  An electric blast took that young man’s life.

Simply stated, electrocution results when a person is exposed to a lethal amount of electrical energy.  The major types of electrocution hazards in construction consist of the following: (1) contact with overhead power lines; (2) contact with energized sources (i.e. damaged or bare wires, defective equipment or tools, and other “live” parts); and (3) improper use of extension and flexible cords.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electrocution was the fourth leading cause of construction site death in 2005.  For the most up-to-date statistical data, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Often times, construction workers injured from electrocution on a job site are not the result of carelessness on the part of the construction worker.  Rather, the construction company itself or the operator of the construction site is to blame.  Yet, it is the construction worker that is frequently exposed to this dangerous amount of electrical energy.

If you or someone you know was injured from electrocution please contact us today.

By: Brandon Stein