Building Collapse Accidents: What to Do if You Are Injured
A building's structural integrity is key to avoiding accidents, especially structural collapses. These types of accidents could happen during the construction of a new building or the renovation of an existing building.
The construction company is liable for anything that happens to workers and visitors on a site. If an accident occurs, it would be the construction company's failure to ensure safety, and victims can take legal action to seek compensation for damages and injuries.
If you are involved in a building accident of a new or existing structure, there are a few steps you can take if you or someone close to you is badly injured. An attorney can make sure that you get the compensation you deserve to cover medical costs and start rebuilding your life.
Read on to learn more about building collapse accidents and the steps you can take to seek compensation for damages.
Why Do Building Collapses Occur?
Building collapses can happen for various reasons, and they can lead to serious injuries for any employees working on or around the structure.
A building could collapse completely. Or it can be a partial collapse, such as when a floor collapses. The collapse could happen during construction or renovation, without warning.
Here are some of the most common reasons that buildings collapse and potential occupational safety hazards related to a collapse accident.
When a building is not constructed correctly with the right materials, it can experience mold damage, fire damage, or water leaks. These could lead to partial collapses, such as a floor collapsing on a parking garage or damage to the roof due to heavy rain.
Design or Construction Flaws
A properly constructed building relies on a structurally-sound design from architects and engineers. If someone makes a mistake during construction, there could be tremendous consequences. This is especially relevant for tall buildings, such as a ten-story building.
To avoid these flaws, construction companies must adhere to state building codes. For example, if you live in Fort Lauderdale, a building must adhere to Florida building codes. Otherwise, workers, visitors, and pedestrians could be hurt. These codes are designed to ensure the safety and structural integrity of a building.
If a building, bridge, tower, or other structure in a city or town is not up to code, then it might need to be demolished. During a demolition, construction workers will tear down the structure completely.
Because of the potential for falling debris, uncontrolled structural collapse, and other dangers during demolition, the process needs to be done safely.
While degenerative conditions, design flaws, and demolition errors can all lead to catastrophic results, the bottom line is that companies and employees that adhere to state building codes are less likely to make a mistake that could lead to an accident of any kind.
What Kind of Injuries Do Building Collapses Cause?
A collapsed building, tower, or other structure can cause destruction all around it. This can result in injuries or fatalities. All employees inside and outside the building, passersby, inhabitants, and anyone around the building could be at risk.
When buildings collapse, people could become trapped underneath the debris. Falls and the threat of falling objects are also a problem. Some of the most common injuries resulting from such a collapse are:
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries
If someone is injured in a collapsing building, they can seek compensation for their injuries to cover medical bills and disability care, and to replace lost income.
Who Is Liable in the Collapse of a Building?
If buildings, towers, or other structures collapse in a city or town, a list of parties can be liable for injuries and material losses in and around the construction site, including:
- Building owners
- Property owners
- Construction companies
- Construction managers
- Equipment manufacturers
For example, even if engineers make mistakes or contractors purchase faulty materials, it's companies, rather than an individual, that are usually held liable. There are cases when architects are held liable for a building collapse because of faulty design, especially in the case of bridges and multi-story buildings.
Construction workers can be liable if they ignore instructions on securing a construction site. But more often than not, it's companies that are at fault, not individuals.
All those who suffer injuries or damages due to a collapse, including workers suffering a workplace accident, have the right to sue one or multiple parties.
Law firms and personal injury attorneys have the right to conduct private investigations to better understand who was liable and how much every victim is entitled to in terms of compensation.
Seeking Proper Compensation for Building Collapse Accidents
Depending on your injury or any damage that resulted from a building collapse, a personal injury lawyer can help you seek compensation. You could be entitled to a variety of benefits, including:
- Medical benefits that cover your medical expenses related to your building collapse injury
- Wage loss benefits or workers' compensation benefits for the income lost during the time you were injured and recovering
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits that relate to counseling and job training so you can re-enter the workplace after your injury
- Specific loss benefits that cover severe injuries such as amputations or facial disfigurement
- Death benefits for families of workers or passersby who were killed by a building collapse
- Emotional benefits based on the pain and suffering and decreased quality of life you have experienced from the collapse
You may be eligible for more than one type of compensation based on the injuries sustained or the circumstances surrounding the building collapse. A personal injury attorney will be able to guide you on which of these apply to your case.
Why Should You Have Legal Help for a Building Collapse or Structural Failure?
If you have been in a building collapse accident, you are eligible to seek compensation and damages. However, without professional legal help, you might not get what you are entitled to.
If you can, you should gather as much evidence as possible to prove your injuries and loss. This evidence can include photos or videos of the site where the accident happened, statements from eyewitnesses, work permits if you were a worker, and the names and contact information of all parties involved.
If you are severely injured or cannot seek this evidence, then a law firm can work with private investigators to collect it. Without this proof, it can be extremely difficult to get compensation, even if you were badly hurt.
Your lawyer should get this evidence before anyone has interfered or changed the site where the accident happened.
Keep in mind, the laws and rules for construction work and building collapses are quite complex. It is challenging for one person to navigate the complexities of the law, so hiring a personal injury attorney or law firm to advocate for your rights is the best way to get the compensation you deserve.
What to Do if You Experience a Building Collapse Accident
If you are one of the workers or passersby that has been injured because of a building collapse, there are several steps you can take.
Seek Medical Attention
In case of a building collapse, workers and everyone around could be severely injured. Equipment and other materials could fall, and their weight could even lead to death.
If you have been injured, you should immediately contact medical services. This could be critical to saving yourself and other peoples' lives. Even if you have a minor injury, it's still important to contact the relevant authorities immediately.
Besides helping you and everyone around you, evidence of medical attention also verifies that you have suffered injuries and validates you as a building collapse victim. Contacting medical teams and getting proper treatment will be helpful for your compensation claim.
Retain Medical Records and Collapse Information
Once you're able to, you should gather all documents that verify your injuries and expenses. These records prove that you had to seek medical care because of the accident.
In addition to medical records, collect any other information regarding the collapse. News articles in newspapers and online portals, interviews, and any other relevant document could help you with your case and make it more feasible for your attorney to prove you are entitled to compensation.
Hire Legal Help
Once you're out of physical danger and are able, contact a personal injury attorney. They will help you file a claim for negligence, recklessness, or intentional behavior. Your attorney can help you get the compensation you need from the parties who are responsible for the collapse.
All you have to do is prove that the people in charge of keeping you safe by designing and constructing a well-structured building have breached their duty of care. Your attorney has the relevant knowledge and skills to navigate this process and ensure you get what you deserve.
Aid in the Investigation
You should help your attorney and legal team by aiding in the investigation in any way you can. You can find relevant witnesses who were there when the collapse happened or contact others who were also injured.
Create a list of all parties involved so you and your attorney can interview them and gather their point of view. This can help your attorney determine who was responsible and how much compensation to ask for on your behalf.
Once you have all the evidence, you can calculate the damages. The actual monetary number is dependent on your experience as a victim.
You can take into account tangible and intangible damages, such as medical expenses and emotional hurt. An experienced attorney can help you calculate a realistic amount that you can ask for when you file your claim.
Stick with the Case
Once you file your claim, the real work begins. You will then be contacted by different parties and lawyers to provide additional evidence or testify. It can be a lengthy and tiring process, but it's ultimately rewarding at the end when you get the compensation that will help you move on with your life.
If you have suffered a building collapse, you should understand what compensation the responsible parties owe you. Once you are well and are able, seek an attorney to help you with your case.
If you're looking for an established law firm with experience in personal injury cases, get in touch with Schwartz Lawyers. With more than 20 years of experience, Schwartz Lawyers provides tailored services and free consultation with timely results. Request a free consultation today to get started.