Roofing accidents are one of the most common and deadliest occurrences on construction sites. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, roofers face the highest rate of non-fatal falls in the construction industry. Shockingly, roughly 50 to 60 roofers lose their lives in roofing accidents each year. This alarming statistic sheds light on the critical need for increased safety measures and legal protection for those working in this perilous profession.
Common Causes of Roofing Accidents
The primary risk when working on a roof is the potential for a fall, and these falls can happen for various reasons, including:
- Improper or Defective Harnessing: A lack of proper safety harnesses or their defective use can significantly increase the risk of falling.
- Lack of Guardrails and Ladders: Inadequate safety measures, such as missing guardrails or safe access points like ladders, can lead to accidents.
- Weak Roof Structure: Roofs may not always be able to support the weight of construction workers and materials, resulting in potentially disastrous structural failures.
- Inclement Weather: Working on a roof during rain or other adverse weather conditions poses a significant risk.
- Roof Holes: Uncovered holes on the roof can easily lead to falls if not properly marked or guarded.
- Slippery Substances: Substances like oil or debris left on the roof’s surface can make footing treacherous and increase the risk of accidents.
Beyond the risk of falling, other safety issues can contribute to roofing accidents, including improper use of power tools, electrocution, exposure to hazardous substances (such as asbestos or paint fumes), and heatstroke due to extreme temperatures.
Determining Responsibility in a Roofing Accident
When a roofer is employed by a contractor or subcontractor, they are generally covered by Pennsylvania workers’ compensation in the event of a roofing accident. Workers’ compensation operates as a “no-fault” system, meaning that injured roof workers do not need to prove their employer’s negligence caused their injury or illness. However, in exchange for receiving these benefits, Pennsylvania law generally prohibits injured roof workers from suing their employers for damages, even if employer negligence can be proven.
Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits typically include:
- Medical Benefits: Coverage for all healthcare expenses related to the roofing accident.
- Partial Disability Payments: Compensation for employees unable to return to full work capacity for up to 500 weeks.
- Total Disability Payments: Compensation for employees permanently unable to return to full work capacity.
- Permanent Injury Payments: Compensation for the loss of a body part.
- Death Benefits: Compensation for the spouse or minor children of a roofing worker killed in an accident.
Exceptions to the “no-fault” rules exist in Pennsylvania law. For instance, if a roofing accident results from the intentional misconduct of the employer, the injured roofing worker or their family may be able to file a separate lawsuit. Additionally, workers’ compensation does not cover third-party liability. Therefore, if a roofing accident is due to a defective ladder or other equipment, the injured worker can still file a lawsuit against the manufacturer.
Consult a Philadelphia Roofing Accident Lawyer
Regardless of whether you believe workers’ compensation will cover your roofing accident injuries fully, consulting a qualified Philadelphia construction accident attorney is a wise decision. They can assess your case, inform you of your rights, and provide essential guidance. At Quinn Law Group, we are committed to helping you navigate the complexities of roofing accidents. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation and protect your legal interests. Your safety and well-being matter, and we are here to help you secure the compensation you deserve.