LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Michael Grossman | Feb 25, 2011

Trench Collapse Accidents on the Construction Site

Trenches are dug every day throughout the United States for a wide variety of reasons. When such trenches are not constructed following certain state and federal guidelines, a trench collapse can occur that can result in severe personal injury or loss of life. Trench collapse accidents are an unfortunately common occurrence, as evidenced by near weekly news stories of such events happening across the country. These types of construction accidents can happen for various reasons.

Often, a trench collapse can occur due to an employer's preference for profits over people. Since building a proper retaining wall takes time and effort, an employer may choose to forgo the erection of such a necessary wall so that a construction project may be completely more quickly. This can often be the case when smaller trenches are dug. However, even a small trench can have thousands of pounds of dirt that may cave in on a worker. Such a trapped worker, if able to be extricated in time, would likely suffer from severe crush injuries. Unfortunately, fatal trench accidents are a common occurrence due to the immense amount of weight that presses down on a worker in a short amount of time. It may be difficult to believe that a worker's safety may be put in jeopardy so that a company might save time or money on a construction project, but such negligence has occurred before. Consequently, specific OSHA guidelines exist in regards to trench construction.

However, an employer may follow OSHA guidelines in order to protect their workers to the best of their ability and a trench accident may still occur. For example, if the materials used to construct a retaining wall are defective in any way and a trench collapse occurs that results in injury or death, the manufacturer of that material can be held liable for the accident. If the negligent actions of a co-worker or another person on-site at the time of the accident lead to a trench collapse, that person can be held liable for the incident.

When a trench collapse accident causes injury to a worker or results in a fatality, an independent investigation may be conducted in conjunction with any other investigations being conducted, such as those done by OSHA, local authorities, or the employer. While these other investigations are necessary and beneficial in their own ways, their purpose does not lie in protecting the injured victim's rights. Consequently, an aggrieved party can seek the help of an experienced construction accident law firm to start an investigation that will look into all matters of liability. Often, seeking the help of a trench collapse lawyer as soon as possible can work to ensure that evidence is not lost or altered in any way following the accident. Since construction accidents can often be quite complex in nature and may involve multiple parties at fault for the same accident, staring a thorough investigation quickly is often in the best interests of the aggrieved party.

If you have suffered injury due to a trench collapse, or have lost a loved one because of a collapsing trench accident, consider contacting an experienced construction accident injury attorney to assess your situation and start an investigation. Through a personal injury lawsuit, an injured victim may be able to receive compensation for their injuries that can go toward both past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other issues. Through a wrongful death lawsuit, a bereaved family may be able to receive compensation for their own pain and suffering, their loved one's pain and suffering, their loved one's medical expenses, funeral costs, and other issues related to their loss. Additionally, by seeking legal action against a liable party responsible for a trench collapse accident, a plaintiff will be working to ensure that such a party's negligence does not have to lead to further accidents causing further harm or loss of life.

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