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Roofing Accidents: Types of Injury & Determining Fault

Roofing is an extremely dangerous profession; in fact, roofers and helpers are six times more at risk for fatal on-the-job accidents than the average worker, according Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited in a 2006 report by Dr. Sang Choi in the Journal of Safety, Health and Environmental Research.

Each year, scores of injuries befall roofers because of

  • the altitude of the work environment;
  • a lack of safety precautions; and
  • hot bitumen.

Types of Injuries Roofers Sustain

Slipping and falling is the greatest cause of injury for workers in the roofing industry. Injuries are often very serious, if not fatal. Dr. Choi notes that “typical injuries caused by roof works are extremely severe, requiring long periods of treatment and recovery and resulting in substantial medical costs and lost worktime.”

Roofers suffer serious injuries including:

  • head trauma and brain injuries;
  • broken and shattered bones;
  • back injuries and spinal damage; and
  • internal organ damage and hemorrhaging.

Other hazards roofers must face include the constant slope (hard on the joints and muscles), power tools, and asphalt. Because of these, workers often sustain injuries such as:

  • burns;
  • foot and ankle problems;
  • back problems;
  • knee injuries from constant kneeling; and
  • hand and finger injuries.

Workers’ Comp and Liability for a Roofing Accident

Workers’ comp is generally available to injured workers regardless of fault. This provides various benefits like coverage of medical expenses as well as disability benefits depending on the details of the worker’s injury and/or disability. Most workers who file for workers’ comp cannot hold an employer liable in a lawsuit.

But there are certain instances in which roofers or their families sue contractors or property owners when they have been hurt. Employers have a legal responsibility to take reasonable and necessary measures to provide a safe working environment for their employees.

Workers may be able to hold a contractor or owner liable under the Scaffold Law in New York if the employer failed to provide proper safety equipment or a safe environment.

Some of the things that contractors and owners might do that would merit them liable include failing to:

  • provide safety harnesses or other safety equipment;
  • ensure a ladder is safe to use;
  • properly tie off a ladder; and
  • put safety barriers where necessary.

Fault is Often Bitterly Debated in Roofing Accidents

When a worker files a liability claim against a contractor or owner (or a family member files a wrongful death claim), you can bet these parties will look for ways to refute fault, and prove that it followed all safety standards and was not in violation of any laws.

You and your attorney will need to work together to gather evidence and prepare a case that demonstrates the contractor’s or owner’s liability. If you or a loved one was recently injured in a roofing accident in New York City or the surrounding areas, feel free to call our injury attorneys at Markhoff & Mittman for help. Contact us for a free, no-obligation legal consultation at 866-205-2415 or (866) 205-2415.

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