Accidents happen. We all know this because we have all, at one time or another, experienced this reality firsthand. Probably more than once too.
The likelihood and severity of accidents are influenced by many factors, of course. Certain jobs, certain locations, certain activities are more prone to accidents than others.
And there are also certain tools or types of apparatus that increase the risk of accidents as well.
Take ladders, for example. In an analysis for U.S. national data for 2011, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that “falls remain a leading cause of unintentional injury [deaths] nationwide, and 43 percent of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder.”
The CDC also found that ladders were involved in approximately 20 percent of all fall injuries that occurred at work.
Further illustrating the point that certain jobs, locations and activities pose a greater risk of injury than others, the CDC reported an estimated 81 percent of fall injuries requiring emergency room treatment suffered by construction workers resulted from the use of ladders.
Older employees, Hispanic-Americans and those working in construction, extraction, installation, maintenance and repair are most likely to be injured by falling from ladders.
If you’ve been involved in an accident that involved the use of a ladder, perhaps now is the time to seek the advice of a fall from ladder injury attorney in Passaic County.
Who is liable?
It is clear that a fall from ladder injury is a very real threat to those who work in construction and related fields. The question that inevitably arises when a worker is injured is “whose fault was it?”
Yours? Your employer’s? The owner of the site? Perhaps even the ladder manufacturer or retailer who sold it to you? And how can you tell?
A fall from ladder injury is what is referred to as a personal injury. Other examples are motor vehicle accidents, slip-and-fall, and medical malpractice. Like those other personal injury scenarios, a fall from ladder injury may support legal action for recovery of any damages you suffered.
You should know, however, that in order for a lawsuit to be successful, you will need to prove that a party (not you) was primarily negligent.
How to Know if Negligence is Present
Negligence is present when the following are established:
- A party was under a duty to conform to a specific standard of conduct, the working conditions were required to meet certain standards or the premises were required to be in a certain condition;
- The duty was breached;
- The breach of the duty (resulting in, for example, hazardous working conditions or unsafe premises) was the cause of whatever injury was suffered; and
- An actual and measurable injury occurred.
In the case of Hopkins v. Fox & Lazo Realtors, the New Jersey court addressed whether one party owed a duty of care to another:
“…whether a person owes a duty of reasonable care to another would turn on whether the imposition of such a duty satisfies an abiding sense of basic fairness under all of the circumstances in light of considerations of public policy. These factors include the relationships of the parties… .”
In other words, you may be able to take legal action due to an injury caused by a fall from ladder injury if you had a relationship with another party that owed a duty of reasonable care.
Gather All Necessary Information
Simple, right? But is it really? Would you be able to identify what expected duty of care was? How could you tell whether that duty was breached? In other words, how would you know that your fall from ladder injury warranted legal help?
To start, you’ll need to review the circumstances surrounding your accident and determine the following:
- The identity of the party ultimately responsible for your working conditions or the condition of the premises at which you were working at the time of injury;
- The working conditions/conditions of the premises. Factors to consider include:
- Whether the ground upon which the ladder was positioned solid and level or was it wet, soft, sloped at a potentially dangerous angle or otherwise unstable.
- Whether the use of a ladder was even necessary or was a possibly safer alternative available (such as an aerial lift or supported scaffold).
- Whether the ladder itself had been thoroughly inspected and was safe for use.
- Whether the ladder was appropriate for the size, weight, task at hand and location of the work.
- Whether all required or recommended safety accessories were provided.
- Whether all necessary or recommended training had been provided.
If one (or more) of these considerations was lacking, then your fall from ladder injury lawyer in Passaic County could reasonably argue that your accident could have been prevented if not for the negligence of some other party.
But what if you were partially negligent as well? What if, for example, your fall from ladder injury resulted not only from the ladder having been placed incorrectly by someone else but also your failure to take all necessary safety precautions?
In this scenario, the ultimate outcome will be determined by analyzing what is known as “comparative fault.” In other words, the judge or jury would review the evidence and compare the degree to which each party was responsible for the injury.
Say, for example, that use of a ladder was inappropriate for the task at hand and that an aerial lift was available as an alternative but the contractor didn’t want to delay the work to put that lift in place. Say also that you were not wearing footwear designed for climbing ladders and the rungs were damp.
Your lawyer would argue that your fall from ladder injury was caused by the negligence of the contractor who did not exercise reasonable care by providing you with a safer alternative for performing your job.
The lawyer for the contractor would, in turn, argue that your injury would not have happened if you had been wearing the right shoes for the job. In truth, it’s likely that the judge or jury would hold both you and your contractor responsible for your fall from ladder injury.
If so, the analysis would then shift to which of you was more responsible for the injury you suffered. So long as you were less responsible, you would be entitled to recover for your injuries.
As is the case with any personal injury matter, determining legal liability for a workplace injury can be very complicated. (Remember that if the injury occurred on the job and you were an employee of the responsible party, worker’s compensation rules apply).
If you have recently suffered such an injury (or know someone who has), now would be a good time to speak to a fall from ladder injury attorney at Fontanella, Benevento, Galluccio & Smith in Passaic County.