Deaths and Serious Injuries
There were 235,740 “contact with objects and equipment” injuries reported in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also notes this is one of the leading causes of work-related injuries. (1)
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says 237 workers lost their lives after being struck by falling objects in one year. Many of these incidents involved construction workers. (2)
In fact, falling objects accounted for 10.28% of construction accidents in New York City in 2018. (3)
Types of Falling Objects Injuries
The National Safety Council (NSC) states falling object injuries happen when objects swing, slip, fall, or roll. The NSC goes on to explain how “being struck” can include being struck by, struck against, or caught in an object. It also encompasses being caught when structures or equipment collapse. (4)
The BLS uses similar categories when tracking incidents involving falling objects, also known as “struck by” or “contact with objects.” However, the BLS also includes a separate category for “flying objects.”
BLS reported 518 people in the United States died from being struck by an object or equipment. (5)
The BLS breaks down the 2019 incidents as follows: (6)
- 241 fatalities were due to being struck by a falling object.
- 26 people lost their lives after being struck by flying objects.
- 120 people were killed when they got caught in, or were compressed in, objects or equipment.
- 93 people died when caught in running machinery.
- 83 fatalities resulted from being struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structures, materials, or equipment.
Despite their classification, falling objects injuries share some common sources.
If you or someone you know was injured by a falling object, a lawsuit can help get the compensation you deserve.
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Common Sources of Falling Objects Injuries
Safety + Health, an NSC publication, cites workers leaving tools inside machinery and a lack of tethering of tools as reasons for many falling objects injuries. This is especially true at construction sites. (7)
Lack of Signage
Another source of falling objects injuries is a lack of signage. Clear and visible signs should be posted indicating work is occurring overhead. If this signage is absent or insufficient and you are injured by a falling object, this could be grounds for a lawsuit.
Collapsing structures can also cause serious falling objects injuries. It is not uncommon for collapses to occur at construction sites while workers are actively engaged. When they do, workers and passersby can be hurt.
Although more likely to occur at construction sites, dropped objects are not only a problem for the construction industry. Unsecured tools and equipment can fall from windows, platforms, balconies, or ledges located just about anywhere.
If you have been seriously injured because you were struck by an object, you may need help to protect your rights. Injuries from these incidents can be severe or even lethal.
Potential Injuries from Falling Objects
The potential for serious injuries from falling objects is real. NSC says, “Injuries resulting from contact with objects and equipment is the fourth leading cause of work-related death and the third leading cause of nonfatal injuries…” (8)
Among the more serious injuries from falling objects are: (9)
- Spinal injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Multiple traumatic injuries.
- Crushing injuries.
Because work related injuries are so prevalent, many states, have enacted laws to protect workers. One notable example is the New York Scaffold Safety Law, protecting workers in the construction industry.
New York Scaffold Safety Law
New York’s Scaffold Safety Law aims to make construction sites safer for workers.
According to the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), “The Scaffold Safety Law simply requires that construction sites be built and maintained in a way that protects workers. Contractors and businesses are only liable when there’s an injury or fatality on the job if they put workers at risk of injury or death by violating critical health and safety regulations.” (10)
Under New York Labor Law Section 240, workers injured by falling objects and debris at construction sites are also protected. (11)
Safe Work Environment
Employers are obligated to provide and maintain a safe work environment. Contractors and businesses failing to provide workers with proper safety equipment such as hard hats, gloves, and goggles, can be held liable.
Additionally, workers may require training in how to properly grip tools and their proper placement when not in use. Other safety measures should be implemented when workers perform tasks at heights, including the use of tethers and hand tool attachment straps, along with transport buckets with lids. (12)
A claim of negligence may be justified when falling objects injuries occur because adequate safety measures were not in place or safety equipment was lacking.
Negligence is when harm is done accidentally or through an act of reckless behavior.
In order to win a negligence case, you (the plaintiff) must prove the defendant (the business or person you are suing): (13)
- Has a legal obligation (duty) to you.
- A violation (breach) of the obligation has occurred.
- You suffered injury (harm).
- Your injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach of duty.
Duty of Care
You must show the court the defendant owed you a “duty of care.” This legal concept means the defendant had an obligation to behave as any reasonable person would under similar circumstances. “If the defendant’s actions fall below what a court determines the reasonable man’s actions would have been the defendant has breached his duty.” (14)
A second type of duty, known as “special duty,” is one “imposed by statute or case law.” This type of duty looks at the relationship of the plaintiff to the defendant to see if the relationship entails a duty. (15)
For example, there is a duty between a doctor and patient, between a teacher and student, and between a homeowner and their guest. This second type of duty can lead to a claim of premises liability.
Were you or a loved one injured by a falling object? You may be eligible for compensation.
Falling objects claims may be filed under premises liability. Simply put, premises liability refers to a property owner’s responsibility for injuries you experience while on their property.
Property owners are required to inspect and maintain their property, including securing tools or equipment that could fall from heights. They are also required to make competent repairs where necessary.
What To Do If You Have Been Injured by a Falling Object
As a first step, after being injured by a falling object, seek medical attention. This also verifies your injuries.
Some injuries are not immediately apparent after the incident. Concussion symptoms, for example, may take 24 to 48 hours to appear. (16)
Your next step should be to contact an attorney. Falling objects lawsuit can be very complex.
A good knowledge of both the legal system and medical claims process is important. A personal injury attorney can guide you through the entire process and help you gain the compensation you deserve.
How Weitz & Luxenberg Can Help
Weitz & Luxenberg has a successful personal injury team to help clients secure compensation for harm you have suffered.
Some cases we have handled successfully include:
- Six-figure settlement due to falling luggage injuring our client — an airline passenger.
- $10 million for a young client — for losing sight in one eye — after being struck by a bungee cord while on a school trip.