Review of Roofing Accident Injury Lawsuits
Roofing accidents frequently cause severe life-threatening injuries or even death, especially when they collapse. Suppose someone's negligence caused the roofing accident.
In that case, the victim could file a personal injury lawsuit which will allow them to receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering.
If a roofing injury happened on the job, then the injured worker could file a workers' compensation claim to cover medical expenses and provide for lost wages.
If the accident occurred due to the negligence of a third party, however, then the injured worker could be eligible to file a personal injury claim seeking additional damages.
If a family member was tragically killed in a roofing accident, the victim's family would lose their income and support.
This means they could file a wrongful death lawsuit to hold the responsible parties accountable by seeking compensation for their loss.
To say roofing is a high-risk occupation is an understatement. According to recent research by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the fatality rate of roofing contractors is about ten times the average fatality rate of all other professions.
Even worse, roofing fatalities were up by another 15 percent in 2020 due to an increase in solar roof installations.
Those statistics don't speak to the thousands of workers, contractors, freelance handymen, etc., who survive but sustain serious injuries due to roofing accidents.
If you are injured in a fall from a roof, you may be eligible to recover damages from the person or entity found to be liable for it.
Since California is a pure comparative negligence state, you can even recover a certain amount of damages if you are considered partly at fault—as long as you or your attorney can demonstrate that the other party bears a shared percentage of responsibility.
Our California personal attorneys will review the roofing accident laws below to give you a better understanding.
Common Causes of Roofing Injury Accidents
Just about every roofing accident boils down to a slip and fall. Among the most common contributing factors that lead to falls from roofs include:
- Dangerous roof conditions (e.g., steep pitch, slippery or irregular surfaces, debris, weak places in the roof),
- Inclement weather (e.g., rain, wind),
- Lack of fall protection equipment when working on a roof (e.g., protection not provided by the employer),
- Incorrect or flawed fall protection equipment—or lack of training on how to use it,
- Workers not adequately trained in roof safety practices,
- Defective ladders, harnesses, ropes, cables, and roofing materials.
If faulty equipment caused a roofing accident, you might have a valid product liability claim against the equipment manufacturer. Put simply, anyone who designs, manufacturers, or sells defective equipment, is strictly liable for any harm caused by their product.
What Are the Common Injuries?
Understandably, roofing accidents tend to produce more severe injuries than other work-related accidents, depending on how far the victim fell, how they landed, etc.
These injuries can easily result in excessive medical expenses, long recovery times, emotional trauma, etc. The most common injuries sustained in roofing accidents (or in any fall) include:
- Broken bones (e.g., arm, leg, pelvis, hip),
- Spinal cord and back injuries—caused by the impact of the fall,
- Traumatic brain injures (ranging from concussions to skull fractures and direct damage to brain tissue),
- Soft tissue injuries (i.e., damage to muscle tissues, severed tendons/ligaments, etc.),
- Internal injuries (e.g., collapsed lung, vital organ bleeding, etc.).
Who Is Liable in a Roofing Accident?
Under negligence laws, any party who breached their duty of care causing harm to someone else may be liable for any damages. Negligence lawsuits hold a party legally responsible for their acts that resulted in injury.
Roofing accidents often result from a variety of factors, often in combination—and as a result, liability may rest with one or more parties who share responsibility for your injuries. Examples may include the below.
Employer - If a roofer is injured while employing a roofing or construction company, it's generally considered a workplace injury subject to worker's compensation benefits.
Contractors or subcontractors - Contractors who hire roofers may be liable for their injuries, especially if they fail to provide proper safety equipment or training.
Property owners and managers - For example, if a property owner or management company fails to keep the roof in a safe condition, then hires someone to get on the roof without informing them of the risks, they may be liable for damages.
Roofing equipment manufacturers - If ladders, safety harnesses, and other roofing tools are defective, the manufacturers may be liable for any injuries resulting from this equipment malfunction.
Roofing company, construction company, or government agency. See related: Construction accidents.
How Can You Prove Liability?
From a legal standpoint, proving someone was negligent in California involves demonstrating three things:
- The defendant owed the injury victim a reasonable duty of care;
- The defendant violated or breached that duty of care through negligence or carelessness; and
- The victim was injured as a result of that carelessness.
A duty of care is laid out in state laws, but a general duty of care applies to any person to prevent causing foreseeable harm to others. Under California Civil Code, “everyone is responsible for the result of their willful acts…….”. Simply put, anyone who is negligent in causing harm can be held liable.
For example, a roofing contractor owes their employees a duty of care to keep them safe on the job.
Suppose the employer fails to provide proper training on using fall protection or other safety equipment. In that case, they may be liable for any accidents that result from their employees' lack of knowledge.
What Damages May Be Claimed in a Roofing Accident?
If you are injured in a roofing accident due to someone else's negligence, you can legally seek restitution for your losses, both tangible and intangible. Damages you may be able to recover include the below.
Current and future care costs (e.g., surgeries, hospital stays, medical supplies, treatments, physical therapy, ongoing in-home care, etc.).
Loss of income, past, and future. In other words, not just the amount of income you lost due to not being able to work, but the amount you're expected to lose by not working during your recovery—or even if the damage is permanent.
Pain and suffering—compensation for the physical pain, emotional distress, and lowered quality of life caused by accident.
Loss of consortium—compensation by losing love, companionship, enjoyment, etc.
Punitive damages—in rare cases of extreme negligence or egregious behavior, the court may award additional damages to punish the defendant.
Who Can File a Lawsuit If Someone Was Killed?
If someone was tragically killed in a roofing accident, then members of the victim's family could be able to seek compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
A wrongful death claim can help the family obtain a financial award to pay funeral costs and compensate for their loss.
However, it should be noted under California's wrongful death statute, only certain family members can receive compensation, including the spouse, children, grandchildren, and domestic partner.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, family members could receive compensation for economic and non-economic damage, such as funeral and burial expenses, financial support loss, and consortium loss.
If you need additional information about roofing accidents, reach out to our law firm to review your case details.
Injury Justice Law Firm is based in Los Angeles County, and we serve victims of negligence throughout Southern California. Contact us at (818) 781-1570, or fill out our contact form.