Anthony De Santos was operating a forklift at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom on April 23, 2014 to move a steel column. He used a tagline to control the forklift while he walked beside it. De Santos was pulled in front of the forklift’s wheel after a sudden stop, and the wheel crushed his foot. He underwent surgery, but ultimately, De Santos lost his leg from the knee down. He has now settled his case for $2.75 million.

A question of negligence

In Pennsylvania, most workers cannot sue their employers for work injuries. They may file a claim under worker’s compensation. The law does have a few exceptions, however. Worker’s compensation only applies to employers, not contractors and subcontractors. That means many construction workers could have worker’s compensation claims, but they could also have a personal injury claim against a contractor or subcontractor if they can show those parties were negligent, and that negligence led to an injury.

There is no question that De Santos has suffered greatly due to his injury. In order to succeed with a claim, however, he had to show negligence on the part of his contractor. De Santos argued that the contractor violated the contract by failing to provide a supervisor on-site. He also claimed they could have transported the beams in a safer manner.

Difference in damages

Worker’s compensation and personal injury claims have different damages available. Worker’s compensation claims go through an insurance company and the law limits claims to medical expenses and lost wages. Personal injury claims also allow for pain and suffering.

Common injuries

Construction is a dangerous industry for workers. In 2016, construction workers made up 21.1% of all U.S. worker fatalities. Falls are the most common accidents on construction sites. Workers can fall from heights, ladders or scaffolding. Falls can cause many types of injuries, from traumatic brain injury to broken bones. Electric shock also happens frequently, resulting in burns. Workers can also be crushed between two objects or machinery. Falling objects often strike workers, which can cause a head injury, or injure another part of the body. Finally, construction workers are prone to repetitive motion injuries, especially in their shoulders.

If you are a Pennsylvania construction worker who was injured on the job, you may want to consider whether you have a worker’s compensation claim, a personal injury claim or both.