One man is lucky to be alive after dirt and boulders collapsed into the 14-foot-deep hole that he was working in and trapped him.
The man, who works for a private company called City Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Co., was doing work on a sewer line in Philadelphia on the 300 block of Market Street when the collapse occured. Around 25 Fire Department rescuers came to his aid. When they arrived, they did their best to determine which parts of the hole were stable, dug around his trapped legs, and used a harness to pull him out of the pit and into the street. He was still conscious and stable, however, he was taken to the hospital to treat to his injuries.
Underground Construction Work
There is absolutely no question as to whether or not working underground is dangerous. Any time that a worker is in a trench or hole, they are at risk of being crushed by thousands of pounds of dirt and rock. Safety measures can, and should, be taken. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has requirements regarding any underground work sites which regulates:
- sloping the ground
- shoring the hole or trench with supports
- the use of a trench box
These safety standards are required on all holes that are 5 feet deep or more.
The Dangers Of A Collapse
The weight of the dirt and rock which may bury any worker isn’t the only danger that presents itself when a collapse does happen. Both those trapped in the collapse and rescue workers must also be wary of:
- flooding water
- exposed electrical wiring
- exposure to smoke and dust
- exposure to pathogens from broken sewer systems
- lack of oxygen
- natural gas leaks leading to a highly flammable environment
- chemical exposure
- falling objects
Due to any number of newly created hazards, those who are trapped may suffer from further injury or a worsening of minor injuries due to a delayed rescue.
Are Workers Who Are Injured In A Cave-In Able To Claim Workers’ Comp?
Yes. If you were performing your job when the collapse occurred and you are injured, you are eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim.
By filing a workers’ compensation claim, you may be able to obtain:
- Lost Earnings: If your injuries are severe enough that you miss work for seven days or more, you may be able to get benefits that will pay you up to ⅔ of your weekly wage.
- Medical Expenses: The medical bills that pertain to the injuries you have suffered should be completely covered by your workers’ comp benefits.
- Total Disability Benefits: If your injury is serious enough that you won’t be able to return to work, you can obtain temporary or permanent disability benefits.
- Partial Disability Benefits: If you are unable to return to your old position but are able to perform a different job, you may be able to recover partial disability benefits.
How Long Will I Be Able To Receive These Benefits?
Workers’ compensation benefits should be granted until you are able to return to work. This means that the coverage of medical bills will continue until you are completely healed from your injuries.
If you are claiming disability benefits there are several events that could cause these to stop. To learn more, you should consult with a workers’ compensation attorney.
Why Should I Consult With An Attorney?
The process of filing a workers’ compensation claim may seem easy enough, but it is important to remember that the companies who will end up paying for your benefits are businesses whose employees have been trained to do everything in their power to minimize payments or deny claims. In fact, nearly 50% of all workers’ compensation claims are denied each year.
If your claim has been denied, the appeal process can be long and exhausting. You already have enough on your plate, let an attorney assist you and make sure that you get the compensation you need while you heal.
Even if you are approved for benefits, working with an attorney can be extremely beneficial. For example, when determining how much money would be appropriate for your lost wages, many employers and insurance adjusters don’t look into regular overtime that you have worked or and other bonus pay that you receive on a regular basis. An attorney can help ensure that you get the correct amount in your benefits check.