There were more than 4.5 million workplace injuries in the United States in 2022. Preventable deaths on the job increased 5 percent that year, totaling 4,695.

Scaffolding-or temporary structures used to support work crews and materials-is an important part of many worksites. However, scaffolding accidents are one of the most common types that result in workplace injuries. It can be difficult to know who or what is to blame for a scaffolding-related injury.

The information below lays out regulations for producing, setting up, and using scaffolding. It also offers some legal insights regarding such injuries. Keep reading to find out what to do if you are a victim of a scaffolding-related accident.

What Regulations Govern Scaffolding? 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific scaffolding standards for preventing workplace injuries that all businesses must meet. These revolve around the construction of the scaffolding and training in how to properly use it. Examples include:

  • Each scaffold should not be overloaded beyond its maximum intended weight.
  • A scaffold must be able to support at least four times its maximum capacity.
  • Scaffolding should have nonslip treads and guardrails to ensure stable, level footing.
  • Each platform on every level of scaffolds must be fully planked to ensure a complete surface without gaps between the front uprights and guardrail supports.
  • Scaffolds must be properly secured to building facades.
  • Scaffolds should not be within 10 feet of power lines.
  • A trained supervisor must approve scaffolding setup and oversee moving scaffolding to another location. (It may be necessary to have larger scaffolds inspected by a certified engineer.)
  • Employees must wear hard hats when working on or around scaffolding.
  • Unsafe surfaces, including those with snow, ice, or spills, must be cleaned before putting up scaffolding. Workers must report any potential hazards to supervisors.
  • Workers setting up scaffolding should never place ladders, boxes, or other objects on the scaffolding.

One of the most common workplace accidents involving scaffolding is workers falling from heights. Another recurring accident involves objects–including scaffolding components themselves–falling onto a worker.

However, there can be other types of injuries related to scaffolding use in workplaces. Any stemming from failure of equipment or proper usage (detailed above) can result in a lawsuit.

Does Workers’ Comp Cover Scaffolding-Related Injuries?

All states require most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. As the name suggests, these are policies that cover injuries incurred on a job site or related to a position.

However, there are common exclusions to this coverage. For instance, businesses with only one employee do not have to carry workers’ compensation. If you are a contract employee, you may be exempt as well.

Further, if the accident was caused by horseplay or intoxication, the workers’ comp claim can be forfeited. If the harm caused was intentional, this too could fall outside the scope of coverage.

Regardless of the policy, workers’ comp does not last forever and can be limited in what may be covered. If workers’ compensation does not cover the injury, then you may need to find recourse. This most likely will be in the form of a legal claim.

How Does a Scaffolding Injury Lawsuit Work?

There are a lot of moving parts to a scaffolding injury lawsuit. Here are the main components and processes to consider:

Determining Fault

Determining fault is a major part of a lawsuit involving a scaffolding-related injury. Whom you bring a lawsuit against depends on the nature of the accident.

Did the scaffolding fail in some way? If so, the fault may be with the manufacturer.

Was the accident the result of a supervisor failing to inspect the scaffolding setup? In these instances, the employer may be subject to a suit.

These are just two examples, and determining fault can be a complex endeavor. It entails collecting evidence, including witness testimony. All of this is essential for not only determining who is at fault, but proving that in a court of law.

Calculating Damages

A workplace injury civil lawsuit involves calculating the amount of “damages” related to the incident. There are two types: compensatory and exemplary damages.

Compensatory Damages

These can include financial damages, such as medical, rehabilitation, or other scaffold accident recovery costs. It can also include loss of salary or wages, as well as earning potential.

This may sound straightforward, but it can be more complicated than you think. For instance, if medical treatment or rehabilitation is ongoing, you will need some mechanism for estimating future costs (once the lawsuit has concluded).

Likewise, things like future earning potential must be calculated as well. Doing so as accurately as possible is essential for getting you the compensation you deserve.

Another complexity is that damages also can include non-fiscal harm, which falls under “pain and suffering.” Examples are mental anguish or a diminished quality of life, resulting from scaffolding injuries.

It can also include mental health impacts from things like disfigurement or scarring. If you have anxiety, depression, or PTSD related to scaffolding accidents, you can seek compensation for the anguish you experience.

Exemplary Damages

As the name suggests, “compensatory damages” are meant to compensate the plaintiff for the harm they suffered. In some cases, where the defendant acted in an especially negligent or malicious way, “exemplary damages,” also known as punitive damages, may come into play. Punitive damages are intended to punish the responsible party and are only allowed in very limited circumstances.

Proving such a high level of negligence in court requires a great deal of legal expertise and experience. Hiring an experienced industrial accident attorney can be vital to successfully navigating this complex process. Doing so can ensure that proper steps are taken every step of the way.

Find Legal Representation for Workplace Injury Lawsuits Near You

Now that you know the common causes and legal insights into scaffolding accidents, you can proceed with confidence. An attorney experienced in workplace injuries can further advise you on the right measures to take to get the best outcome for your case.

For more than 50 years, the Talbot, Carmouche, & Marcello law firm has fought for the people of Louisiana. Reach out to us today to discuss your case.