What kind of evidence can help your claim after a car crash?

Without evidence, the investigation into a car crash would likely involve just the conflicting accounts of the drivers involved. Evidence helps police officers and other parties, like insurance companies and the courts, know what actually happened during and after a wreck.

Adequate documentation of what occurred at the time of the crash can make a big difference in the success of your claim for compensation and how much you are able to secure. Without the right evidence, you may struggle to make even an insurance claim, let alone bring a lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash. 

Documenting the scene of the crash can show you didn’t cause it.

The police officers who respond to collisions often have to weigh the statements made by each party involved and make a determination of fault based on what information those people provide. Some people will intentionally manipulate police officers or the scene of the crime to make it look like they are less responsible for the crash than they were.

For example, if you have to move your vehicles to allow for the continued safe flow of traffic, the position you moved them into may not clearly show how the other driver was obviously at fault. Taking pictures of the scene of the crash immediately from multiple angles can help demonstrate the actual scene of the accident and better establish fault.

Request video footage and secure witness statements.

Police vehicles and police body armor typically have cameras installed, which means that if there was an officer nearby at the time of the crash, they may have valuable evidence of the collision. They may even have documentation that can help you prove impairment or exhaustion on the part of the other driver thanks to recording their appearance and words after the crash.

Even if police footage isn’t available, there may be security cameras from nearby businesses, traffic cameras from nearby intersections or even dashcam footage from vehicles in nearby traffic, to say nothing of people who are physically present and witnessed the crash who can provide testimony.

Those who get hurt will need medical evidence.

To claim compensation for an injury you suffered in the crash, you will need to prove to the courts or insurance company that the crash either caused the injury or significantly exacerbated it. You will need medical documentation to do that.

The sooner you see your physician or seek evaluation at a hospital or urgent care facility, the clearer the connection between your injuries and the crash will become. Additionally, medical records can help demonstrate that you have made every reasonable effort to reduce the impact of the injuries on your life and to comply with doctors’ orders, which can limit claims that your actions contributed to your current condition.

The pandemic is not an excuse for lax safety standards

Just a quick glance at headlines across the construction industry reveals a clear picture of a troubling situation. Despite COVID-19 prompting the shutdown of many projects, dangerous accidents at construction sites continue.

The construction worker safety conversation has become all but lost amid discussion of the pandemic. But the continued existence and spread of COVID-19 is not an excuse for employers to ignore their worker safety responsibilities.

Trainings must continue if possible

Things are hectic right now. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has acknowledged that fact. Recent enforcement guidance from the agency, however, makes it clear that is not an excuse for employers to ignore safety requirements.

While OSHA recognizes local closures mean certain mandated training may not be possible, the agency says it expects employers to make “good faith compliance efforts” to meet OSHA standards. That includes both annual and recurring:

  • Audits
  • Reviews
  • Trainings
  • Assessments

In addition, employers that cannot complete these requirements should take care to ensure workers are not exposed to hazards for which they were not properly trained to handle.

Businesses that use this pandemic as an opportunity to ignore safety mandates may end up with a citation.

Protecting construction workers

Employers have a responsibility to ensure workers are operating in a safe environment. Part of that responsibility is making sure safety training thresholds are met.

Construction remains one of the most dangerous professions, with workers exposed to injury and fatality risks not seen in many other industries. Adequate training is one of the key pillars to addressing this longstanding issue, one advocacy group argues.

Employers that neglect this all-important aspect of running a safe business ultimately put all their workers at risk. And it is those workers who might pay the ultimate price.

What might workplace safety training look like during the pandemic?

As workplaces continue to navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19, many employees remain worried about their own personal health. While the pandemic is indeed something that requires workers to take precautions, do not let it overshadow the basic, everyday dangers posed by certain jobs.

Ladders remain a serious worry on construction sites. Railroad workers are still at risk of serious head or limb injuries. The same risks that were present prior to the coronavirus outbreak still exist today. Because of this, workplace safety requirements can’t just disappear.

Workplace safety training

Some industries involve more risk than others. Jobs in these fields often come with mandated workplace safety training. Pausing these trainings only puts workers at more risk of being hurt on the job. But workplace safety courses should also be, well, safe.

In addition to following national, state and local guidance on COVID-19, trainers can make some specific adjustments to help protect participants. Some suggestions from Occupational Health and Safety Magazine include:

  • Reducing the training group size to allow for social distancing or eliminate the sharing of equipment
  • Requiring participants to wear gloves and face masks
  • Taking the temperature of all participants upon arrival
  • Shifting training programs online whenever possible
  • Communicating these new guidelines ahead of time and identifying those who may be at risk

These types of measures may be able to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread, while ensuring regular workplace safety standards are met. Employers have a responsibility to ensure worker safety. That cannot go by the wayside for any reason – including a pandemic.

With fewer cars on the road, drivers speed, crashes worsen

The pandemic of 2020 has been a time of staying at home and less driving. But now that the state and country are opening up, people need to be careful to stay safe on the road.

When people do drive, many have been speeding or not paying attention due to the lack of other cars on the road. But this carelessness has also led to more serious crashes.

On June 12, a fatal crash was reported in Gowanda County. One person died and multiple others were injured in the early morning crash. This is just one more in many recent reports of fatal crashes occurring during the pandemic – a time when one would expect less accidents on the roads but what is turning into more severe accident results.

The Buffalo News reported that on some area roads, the lack of traffic during COVID-19 crisis has seen a jump in speeding of 30% during times that would normally be congested traffic at rush hour.

How do your odds change with speeding?

According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), speed affects crashes with injuries in several key areas:

Decreased reaction time — Drivers have less time to react when they have to stop or slow down if they are speeding.

Increased chances of fatalities – The chances of having a fatal accident are 20 times greater when someone is driving at approximately 50 miles/per hour rather than slower speed of 30 miles per hour.

Bystander fatality odds – Perhaps more impactful even are the percentages affecting pedestrians and bicyclists when struck by a car.  Survival rates after these crashes are only 50% when drivers were going 45 kph or 27.96 mph, whereas reducing driving speed affected survival rate favorably at 90% of the victims living after being struck by someone going 30 kph or 18.64 mph.

Furthermore, the WHO stated that for every 1kpm faster someone drivers (or .62 mph), drivers increase the chances of having a crash with injuries by 3%. They also increase the odds of having a crash with fatalities by 4 to 5 %.

What can drivers do?

Knowing that even a few miles per hour can dramatically change outcomes of crashes and severity, there are several things people can do to keep everyone safer on the roads.

Be aware of your speed limit. Without other cars on the road, you may not be as aware of how fast you are traveling because there are not other vehicles to keep pace with.

Keep your distance. Allow for more distance between your vehicle and others on the road.

Give yourself enough time. Allow yourself plenty of time when driving from place to place, so you won’t feel the need to speed.

We can all do our part to keep roads safer during the pandemic.

How can workers stay safe on scaffolding?

So far in 2020, there have been many news stories of people being seriously injured after falling off scaffolding. Some scaffolding collapses are caused by high winds; other collapses may be caused by improper setup or other hazards. No matter the cause, people who must work on scaffolds should exercise utmost precautions to stay safe on the job.

Tips to help you stay safe

Knowing how dangerous scaffold work can be, it’s prudent to take precautions. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Wear proper work clothes – your work boots and attire may never be more important than when you are working in risky conditions high off the ground. Sturdy shoes with good tread on the soles could save your life.
  2. Be aware of tripping hazards – Pick up tools and keep work area clear of debris.
  3. Watch the weather – Strong winds and storms can play a role in creating dangerous work conditions where you could lose your balance, or the scaffolding could become unsteady.
  4. Understand guardrails – Guardrails going awry is one of the leading causes of scaffolding accidents. If someone is working on a scaffold 10 feet or more above a lower level, guardrails must be used.
  5. Check your safety harness – When working on a scaffold, you need to have a fall-arrest system. Are you wearing your safety harness? And is it installed and connected properly and in good working condition?

Don’t be a statistic

The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics reported an increase in fatal falls of 26% over a six-year period from the years 2011 to 2016. The top industry for these falls was construction. In the construction industry, the increase in fatal falls was much worse at 45% than in other industries.

Taking extra precautions when working on scaffolds could keep you from being injured, and it could also save your life.

How does New York’s Scaffold Law protect workers?

Everybody knows the construction industry is dangerous due, in large part, to the great heights at which individuals must work. It is for this reason basic safety laws exist. The workers deserve to be protected.

Yet according to the most recent Deadly Skyline report, falls remain the top cause of fatalities on construction sites. In addition, fall protections account for the most frequent construction site violation cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

All of this underscores the continued need for the Scaffold Law.

Why is the Scaffold Law important?

As the Center for Justice Democracy points out, workers themselves generally have little control over things like equipment and the implementation of safety measures on a site. These workers are instead relying on other parties to look out for their well-being.

The Scaffold Law, which is unique to New York, actually dates back to the late 1800s. Essentially, it requires property owners and contractors to provide basic fall protections for workers on a construction site. That can include things like proper guard rails, secure attachment mechanisms, the availability of personal safety equipment and thorough training.

If a party fails to make the site safe for the construction workers, they can be held liable for related falls that occur as a result. In this way, victims are able to hold those in power accountable for their neglectful actions.

Campbell & Associates recently won scaffold case

We recently utilized the Scaffold Law on behalf of a 35-year-old painter of industrial tanks who was required to scrape and paint the interior surfaces of large holding tanks at a Chautauqua County business but was not provided with proper scaffolding or fall protection equipment. He unfortunately fell and suffered a serious shoulder injury that required surgery and continues to cause him pain and limitations.  Once we gathered all the evidence, a Supreme Court justice found the defendants to have been in violation of the law and they settled for $825,000.

What does Scaffold Law allow in compensation?

When a construction worker falls and suffers an injury, the Scaffold Law allows them to file a personal injury lawsuit against a contractor or site owner that failed to provide a safe environment. Families of those who tragically die in such falls may also consider legal action. Compensation could include damages such as:

  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship (often referred to as consortium)
  • Medical care costs

All the law asks is that responsible parties take basic steps to ensure workers on a construction site are protected from preventable falls. The high number of fall protection violations coupled with continuously high fall fatality figures suggest many of these third parties are simply not taking safety seriously enough.