fall-from-scaffold-injuryThe workplace is often a dangerous place, especially if it’s a construction site or other location where workers are required to use ladders or scaffolding in order to perform their jobs.

If you are injured in a fall from scaffold accident, you may incur medical expenses and be unable to work for a period of time.

If you are injured in a fall from scaffold accident, you may incur medical expenses and be unable to work for a period of time.

A severe injury may even prevent you from returning to your trade, keep you from working for an extended period of time or, worst of all, render you permanently disabled. Then what?

If your accident occurred during the course of employment, New Jersey’s worker’s compensation laws will apply. If, however, you were a subcontractor or independent contractor, worker’s compensation may not cover you and you will be required to seek another way to cover your medical costs, lost wages and any other damages.

What those would be, how you would pursue them and who would be responsible are all questions to which you will need answers as you move forward.

Harm that results from a fall from scaffold is an example of what is called “personal injury.” Other examples are slip and fall injuries and motor vehicle accidents, to name just two. As with every personal injury matter, understanding liability for a fall from scaffold accident is essential to determining what actions, if any, you can take and how to go about doing so.

As mentioned, if you were injured while on the job as an employee of a company, you would file a worker’s compensation claim. Worker’s compensation is essentially a form of no-fault insurance (with some exceptions) designed to compensate for wage loss and medical coverage for anyone made ill or injured during the course of his or her employment.

In a worker’s compensation scenario, the employer is presumed to be liable for costs and loss of earnings. However, this does not necessarily mean that the employer is “to blame” or has done something wrong. Accidents are called “accidents” for a reason. Sometimes they just happen.

If, however, you are injured while performing work for a contractor, property owner or other entity, you would not be considered an employee. The law considers you to be an independent contractor.

Whether you recover damages and in what amount both depend on who is ultimately deemed liable for your fall from scaffold injury. There are several factors to be considered, of course, but primary among them are whether the accident was preventable and, if it was, which party had the responsibility to prevent it.

Liability in any personal injury case is established when the facts show that one party was negligent. Negligence is found to exist when:

  • An individual or organization has a work relationship with the injured party and, therefore, has a duty to conform to a specific standard of conduct or exercise a specific level of care;
  • The duty to conform to conduct or exercise care was not fully met or was breached completely;
  • The failure to meet the required conduct or exercise the required care was the actual cause of your injury; and
  • The accident did, in fact, result in an injury.

Simply put, once a party has been found to be negligent for causing or enabling a fall from scaffold injury, an assessment of damages can be conducted. Factors upon which the outcome rests include:

  • Strength of the case based on the credibility of the witnesses and the evidence presented;
  • Competence of your attorney;
  • Severity of the injury you suffered;
  • Perceptions of jurors at trial;
  • Perception/biases of the judge;
  • Case law or statutes that govern your claim for damages.

As straightforward as this all may seem, successfully attributing liability to a defendant for a fall from scaffold accident is anything but simple. The competence of your attorney will play a significant role in whether you win a lawsuit.

Make no mistake: There are numerous highly qualified attorneys in the state of New Jersey, many of whom handle personal injury matters. Not all personal injury matters are alike, however.

Compare, for example, a slip and fall injury with a motor vehicle accident. While the overall notion of negligence is the same in both cases, the details regarding procedure and evidence are vastly different.

So too for a fall from scaffold injury lawsuit. While obviously a personal injury matter, not every personal injury lawyer is fully capable of winning such a case.

Why You Need an Attorney Experienced in Fall from Scaffold Cases

1. You want an attorney who has a proven track record of successful fall from scaffold cases, someone who understands:

  • The ins and outs of the construction industry;
  • The issue of unsafe working conditions;
  • The specifics of faulty equipment; and
  • The arguments that the defense is likely to make as it attempts to prove that you were responsible for the accident.

2. A competent fall from scaffold injury attorney knows to gather all the facts related to the accident as soon as possible. Why?

Physical evidence has a tendency to disappear or become otherwise unavailable (job sites are cleaned up, the scaffolding is removed, construction proceeds and the conditions present at time of accident cease to exist).

Memory fades. This is true of all people. Your recollection of your accident will become less clear, less certain, as time passes. So too will the memories of any and all witnesses to the accident or those who have may have information relevant to the accident (someone who was present when safety standards for erecting the scaffolding were ignored, for example).

3. Also, an attorney qualified to handle a fall from a scaffold matter will have sufficient knowledge about the types of injuries normally suffered in such a fall. The attorney can discuss with you what treatment you may require, what the costs might be, and what medical reports and expert testimony may be required in support of your case.

Someone new to this specific area of law will have a learning curve which might lead to a costly oversight or misstep that can damage or harm your case.

4. The success of your case will turn in large part not only on how well your lawyer navigates the landscape of procedure and evidence but also how well he or she identifies the critical issues.

  • Factors that can impact the court’s decision as to which party is to blame include:
  • The condition of the premises and party responsible for providing a safe work environment;
  • The condition of the scaffolding itself and party responsible for maintaining it;
  • Whether all safety precautions were taken by the party responsible for doing so;
  • Did a party have a duty to provide adequate training? If so, whether that training was provided;
  • If such training was provided, whether it was followed;
  • To what extent you were responsible for the accident; and
  • To what extent you contributed to the severity of the injury by acting in an unsafe manner or delaying medical care or refusing to follow doctor’s instructions.

Clearly, determining liability for a fall from scaffold accident has many components. It is, therefore, highly recommended that you seek the legal advice of an attorney with successful experience handling this type of case. Failing to do so may only make matters worse for you.