Have you or a loved one been injured in a heavy equipment accident in Atlanta?
The experienced, dedicated injury team at Hasner Law, PC, is ready to help you get the benefits and compensation you deserve. Contact our Atlanta heavy equipment accident lawyers today for a free consultation.
How Hasner Law Can Help You Fight For Compensation After a Heavy Equipment Accident
Construction accidents are all too common, especially those involving heavy equipment and machinery. Fortunately, most construction workers are covered by workers’ compensation insurance in the state of Georgia. Following a workplace injury, you may qualify for benefits under your employer’s policy.
You might even be able to file a lawsuit against the equipment manufacturer, property owners, or another liable party.
Hasner Law can help you limit the stress of pursuing compensation, while also fighting to maximize your financial recovery.
Our Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers have 80+ years of experience representing injured workers like you. We’ve handled thousands of cases and know how to win. Let us go to bat for you.
- Carefully investigate the circumstances surrounding your workplace accident
- Determine all possible avenues for financial recovery, including workers’ compensation benefits and damages in a third-party action
- Handle the complex and time-consuming administrative aspects of your case
- Guide you as you make tough decisions related to your claim
- Take your case to a jury, if necessary.
Give our law office in Atlanta, GA a call to discuss your rights and legal options today. Your first case evaluation is free.
Heavy Equipment Accidents: An Overview
There’s seemingly always a construction boom in Atlanta, Georgia. However, builders know that, along with more work, can come a greater risk of injury on the job. The heavy equipment used on a construction site can cause injury or death if it is not maintained well or not operated properly.
Even when workers follow all the rules, tragic accidents can still happen.
Operating or working around heavy equipment is one of the most dangerous aspects of a construction job. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), out of 4,779 worker fatalities in 2018, 1,008 were in construction. In other words, one out of every five worker deaths were in the construction industry that year. OSHA’s “fatal four” construction accidents include falls, being struck by an object, electrocution, and being caught in or between heavy equipment.
Heavy equipment accidents can cause all types of injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Neck injury
- Spinal cord
- Broken bones
- Crushed or severed limbs
In the worst-case scenario, these injuries can be fatal. However, even when the worker survives the pain and trauma of a severe heavy equipment accident, the ongoing medical care and rehabilitation can lead to skyrocketing medical expenses in addition to lost wages.
According to Georgia law, you cannot sue your employer for an accident you sustained at work. To be fairly compensated for your injuries, you need to file a claim against a third party. This third party can be the contractor responsible for the maintenance of the machinery, for example. If our attorneys find that the heavy equipment involved in your accident was poorly maintained, we can file a lawsuit against that responsible party.
Our Atlanta construction accident lawyers know the letter of the law and have experience in all types of construction worksite accidents. We’ve handled accidents involving unsafe and defective equipment, machine malfunctions, and operator error.
What Is Defined as Heavy Equipment?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 468,300 heavy equipment operators in the U.S. in 2019. These operators drive, maneuver, or control the machinery used to construct buildings and roads. Heavy equipment operators work all year-round and in all weather conditions.
Many operators work full time, but some operators have irregular work schedules. Some workers, especially those in road construction projects, operate heavy machinery at night.
By definition, heavy equipment (or heavy machinery) refers to vehicles designed to execute construction tasks, including earthwork operations or other large building projects.
The Atlanta personal injury attorneys at Hasner Law have represented clients throughout Georgia in accidents involving the following heavy machinery:
- scissor lifts
- dump trucks
- power tools
- cable plows
- heavy haul trucks
- rock trucks
- cherry pickers
It’s important to note that there is no standard weight designation for the term “heavy” in construction machinery. For example, skid steer loaders and mini excavators may be considered lightweight equipment, but they still qualify as “heavy” equipment and can still cause serious injury.
What Causes Heavy Equipment Injuries?
Heavy machinery accidents can occur at a construction site, at a warehouse, or in a roadwork zone. Some of the common factors involved in heavy equipment accidents include:
- Collision with a stationary object
- Collision with another piece of equipment
- Dropped loads
- Poorly maintained equipment
- Machinery entanglement
- Objects falling from forklifts, cranes, or other equipment
- Workers pinned between heavy equipment and stationary objects
- Poorly trained operators, including workers failing to check blind spots before backing up
Although employers can violate safety standards governing the use of heavy equipment on the worksite, some accidents are just that — accidents. However, the state of Georgia has a no-fault statutory system, meaning that even if your employer is not to blame, or even if you contributed to your own on-the-job injuries, you still can receive benefits. The exception would be if you were intoxicated or involved in reckless behavior or horseplay at the time of your accident.
Filing a successful workers’ compensation claim in Georgia typically results in benefits for work-related injury expenses, including medical bills, some of your lost wages, and disability benefits.
However, navigating the legal aspects of these accidents can be complicated. Large construction projects frequently have several contractors and subcontractors on the job. Also, your claim could range from a relatively simple workers’ compensation case to a third-party personal injury suit. Our attorneys at Hasner Law are experts at both types of cases.
Let’s look at two examples. A workers’ compensation case could involve a concussion you sustain when an object drops on your head while you are operating your equipment. A third-party claim could result if your employers failed to implement minimally required safety measures.
What are the Safety Guidelines for a Heavy Equipment Site?
For all types of equipment, there are some basic guidelines operators must learn and follow. Employers hold responsibility for training and supervision of heavy equipment operators in the following areas:
- Training and licensing for heavy equipment operation
- Reading and understanding the operating manual
- Checking the job site and equipment for potential hazards
- Creating a path for the equipment’s movement through the worksite
- Establishing a limited-access zone for equipment that includes a swing radius
- Using a spotter when needed for visibility
- Following all lockout or tag-out procedures
Why are these guidelines important? Let’s look at forklifts as an example.
The forklift, a common piece of heavy equipment at the construction job site, can weigh up to 9,000 pounds. A forklift can travel up to 18 mph, but unlike a car, it only has front brakes, so it is difficult to stop. Other factors that make forklifts hard to operate are their uneven weight distribution, the visibility problem a heavy load creates, and the fact that they turn on their rear wheels. For these reasons, tipping accidents on tight turns are common with forklifts.
Forklifts account for about 35,000 serious injuries and 85 fatalities every year, according to OSHA. Yet, OSHA estimates that about 70% of forklift accidents in the U.S. could be avoided if construction companies implemented more stringent training policies and procedures.
Considering All of Your Options: Workers’ Compensation and Third-Party Claims
Due to their sheer size and weight, as well as their substantial moving parts, construction equipment can cause severe and often life-altering injuries. Sometimes the injuries are so severe that they are fatal. Sustaining these kinds of injuries is harrowing enough for anyone to go through without having to worry about the claims process.
That’s why some injured workers and their families wonder if they even need to bother filing a personal injury claim if they have workers’ compensation.
However, workers’ compensation is unlikely to cover all of your medical bills and damages. And, you aren’t entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering.
That is why it makes sense also to file a personal injury claim. The damages we recover — in addition to your workers’ compensation benefits — can ensure you have enough money for your medical bills and lost wages. Perhaps even more importantly, they give you peace of mind during this incredibly challenging time.
In Georgia, you must report your heavy equipment accident within 30 days, and your employer must make a written report. You then have up to a year from the report date to receive your workers’ compensation claim. Your employer’s insurance company may deny your claim – all the more reason you need an experienced attorney in your corner, helping you receive the compensation you deserve.
We also will file a workers’ compensation claim and/or personal injury lawsuit as soon as possible on your behalf.
Call Our Atlanta Heavy Equipment Accident Lawyers Today
Although many attorneys represent clients in personal injury cases, not all of them have a background in heavy machinery accidents. At Hasner Law, our Atlanta heavy equipment accident lawyers have that valuable experience. And, we will work tirelessly to make sure you the financial settlement you deserve. We also offer a personalized approach with two paralegals assisting your accident attorney on your case.
Your health and recovery are what matter most. That is why, at Hasner Law, we offer our work on a contingency basis. That means you pay us nothing upfront; you only pay us when we recover compensation benefits for you.