Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

Trench Collapses and Personal Injury Cases

Trench Collapses and Personal Injury Cases

The Kansas City Star published an article today about the dangers of trench collapses in construction sites. The article had a sobering statistic that, “More than two dozen construction workers died this year when they were buried under tons of earth in trenches that had no shoring to keep fragile walls from giving way, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration says. That number is double what it was a year ago, but it’s been that high or higher on average for many years.” The article goes on to state, “According to OSHA, there are no acceptable reasons for those deaths.” The reason, the article emphasizes, is because trench collapses are entirely preventable if proper shoring is used.

So what can the unfortunate construction worker or his or her family do for compensation if he or she is hurt or killed in a trench collapse? Probably the only option is a workers compensation claim. In Missouri, generally speaking, the only option available for any compensation to people hurt on the job is through the workers’ compensation system. But Missouri’s comp system is unfair and does not provide full compensation to workers for all of their losses. The only way for a chance at full and fair compensation is with a civil personal injury case.

In Missouri, however, it is not easy to get around comp. There are a few exceptions to the workers’ compensation exclusive remedy rule. One way is to show that an entity other than the employer was responsible for the harm. If it can be shown that a third party caused or contributed to cause the collapse, then it can be held responsible for the harm. Another way is to show that the employer’s failure to provide shoring amounted to something more than a failure to provide a safe workplace.

Even if a worker could show that one of these exceptions apply, he or she would have to contend with comparative fault. This reduces a worker’s recovery by the percentage of fault he or she bears for the accident. In trench collapse cases, the worker could be partially at fault if he or she should have known better to get into a trench without shoring. Or, the worker could be at fault if he or she did not insist their supervisor provide shoring.

If you or a loved one have been hurt or killed in a trench collapse, please do not hesitate to contact our firm to learn more about your options for compensation.