One of the most dangerous experiences on any worksite is a trench collapse. It only takes a few seconds, and someone can be buried under several thousand pounds of dirt or soil, or even pieces of heavy machinery Construction workers are at the greatest risk, though cable company workers, commercial plumbers, and the folks employed by the local department of public works are also at risk.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trench collapses, also referred to as cave-ins, are one of the deadliest accidents that continue to occur on construction sites. A trench is a “long cut in the ground” or a ditch. When construction workers are making a deep and narrow hole in the ground, it is commonly called a trench. Trenches are usually used to bury electrical equipment, put in gas or sewer lines, and to pour foundations.
When the construction work does not go as planned and a worker gets stuck or buried in a trench, this is a trench collapse. Workers can sustain life-altering injuries, if they survive the collapse at all.
When certain techniques or standards are not followed to prevent trench collapses, workers can find themselves being buried alive. Halfway through 2022, more than 20 people had already been killed from trench collapse accidents, which led to OSHA putting in place more rules regarding these types of accidents.
The following are the federal standards that OSHA requires employers and employees to follow to make excavation work safer:
- Make sure there is a safe exit and enter strategy when accessing the trench.
- Trenches must have protection in place to prevent cave-ins.
- Materials must not be near any edges of the trench.
- No workers should ever enter a trench unless it has been properly and thoroughly inspected.
- Make sure there is no standing water or any other types of environmental hazards that could put workers at risk of dangers.
What types of injuries can result from trench collapses?
There are a variety of different types of injuries that can result from a trench collapse. Among the most serious work related injuries are:
- Lack of oxygen
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Organ damage
- Nerve damage
- Crushing injuries
- Wrongful death
What happens if you have been crushed in a trench collapse?
Other than death, one of the worst outcomes of a trench collapse is being crushed. If you survive after being crushed in a trench collapse, you are very lucky, but you most likely will experience life altering challenges for the rest of your life. This will require them to need immediate medical treatment, countless surgeries, physical therapy, psychological therapy, occupational therapy, organ transplants, and more. A few other hurdles that trench collapse injuries bring are that the individual will most likely not be able to work, their family may need to assist them with their daily activities, services may also need to be hired to help them complete certain tasks, and home modifications may need to be installed.
Survivors of trench collapses will never have the same lives that they had before their accidents. Instead, they will need to learn how to cope with their new lives and the challenges that come with them. This can be a painful and traumatic experience, which will require a lot of assistance and care going forward.
What to do if you were involved in a trench collapse
If you have been involved in a trench collapse, the first thing that you should do, if you have not already, is to seek medical treatment immediately. Even if you do not think that you are hurt, your internal organs or other body parts could be damaged.
From there, you have two options:
- File a claim through workers’ compensation. If you are an employee who was severely injured on the job, you can seek wage loss benefits, medical benefits, and disability benefits through the workers’ compensation system. We can help you make this initial claim, but we also assist workers whose benefits have been cut off before they should have been, or who have been denied benefits even though they deserve them.
- File a personal injury lawsuit. If you are not eligible for workers’ compensation, you can file a personal injury lawsuit instead. We can help you determine who the liable parties are, and how to proceed with your case. You may be eligible for compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If it was your loved one who died as a result of a trench collapse, you may be entitled to death benefits as part of worker’s compensation; these benefits will also cover funeral and burial expenses. If you cannot collect these benefits, we can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit instead.
You can rest assured knowing that you are in good hands while you continue to focus on your recovery. Our team of Chattanooga personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys will fight for your rights and make sure that those responsible are held accountable for their negligence.
If you have recently been injured in a trench collapse, Wagner & Wagner is ready to assist you. Our team has compassion and understanding toward our clients who have been dealt this type of hardship as we know that you are going through a very difficult time. However, we do not think you should do it alone. Let us help you get the justice you deserve today by calling us to schedule your free consultation; you can also fill out our contact form. Wagner & Wagner helps individuals in Cleveland, Chattanooga, and North Georgia.