crane on top of a building under construction

Proving Construction Negligence

Construction accidents can often be traced back to negligence from one or more parties involved in the project. Negligence is defined as a failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or damage.

In the context of construction accidents, negligence can take many forms, from poorly maintained equipment to unsafe work conditions. Proving construction negligence can be difficult; however, gathering evidence and building a solid case makes it possible to hold parties accountable for their actions and help make construction sites safer for everyone involved.

1907 Scaffold Act

One hundred and fifteen years ago, the Scaffold Act was enacted. This act required employers to provide employees with a safe work environment and imposed strict liability on the party in charge of the work site for any injuries or deaths that occurred due to unsafe conditions. Under the act, injured parties had to prove:

  • They were protected under the Scaffold Act.
  • The alleged negligent party had a duty of care to uphold.
  • The alleged negligent party willfully failed to uphold their duty of care, leading to the injury of the plaintiff.

Proving this criteria was simple enough and allowed injured parties to recover damages. Critiques arose, however, and were centered on the liability of premises owners, contractors, or supervisors who were not directly involved or had no control over the plaintiff’s work.

Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1911

In 1911, The Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1911 was passed, guaranteeing a plaintiff’s recovery at the expense of surrendering their right to take action against their employer. For years, the successful Scaffold Act saw little to no use, as the Workmen’s Compensation Act forbade compensated injured employees from seeking action against third parties. However, this was deemed unconstitutional in 1952, allowing compensated workers to take action against their employers, premises owner or supervisors.

Scaffold Act Repealed

In 1995, Illinois Governor Jim Edgar repealed the Scaffold Act, which had now given injured workers two opportunities to recover damages. This marked the 49th state to repeal its scaffold law, with New York, to this day, being the only state to have it in effect still (since 1885). Unions suggested that Illinois’ third-place ranking in lowest workplace injuries was due to the lengthy tenure of the Scaffold Act.

How Can Injured Workers Recover Damages?

Under Illinois’ workers’ compensation laws, an injured worker cannot file a lawsuit against their employer, regardless of negligence. The workers’ compensation system will allow them to recover:

  • Medical Expenses.
  • Compensation for Days Missed Due to Injury.
  • Compensation for Permanent Results of Injury.

Every employer is required to provide workers’ compensation; however, there are some that do not. In the case that your employer fails to provide workers’ compensation insurance, you may be able to recover damages from the Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund, a fund consisting of money accrued from the fines and penalties assessed to uninsured employers.

You may also file a third-party claim against a negligent party other than your employer.

Am I Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

Workers will be covered by their workers’ compensation program provided their injury arose out of and in the course of their employment. This means that their injury must have happened at work and as a result of their work.

Construction Negligence Attorneys in Chicago, Illinois

Construction workers are employed in one of the most dangerous professions in the country. Every year, thousands of men and women are injured or killed while working on construction sites. When these accidents occur, the workers and their families often face significant financial burdens, including medical bills and lost wages. The construction negligence attorneys at Anesi Ozmon can help injured workers, and their families recover the damages they deserve.

If you have been injured in a construction accident through no fault of your own, call us today at (312) 779-6610 or contact us online for a free and easy consultation!

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