Trench collapses can result in catastrophic injuries or deaths of workers. When safeguards are not followed or used to prevent trench collapse accidents, workers can actually be buried alive by falling debris or dirt. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires very specific regulations regarding safe trenching and excavation work.
If any person or entity fails to follow these guidelines, workers can suffer severe injuries or fatalities. If you suffered injuries due to a trench collapse accident, contact our legal team to learn how a Los Angeles trench collapse lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 529-9122 can help you understand your rights and take action.
Types of Trench Collapses
Usually, there is simply no warning before a trench collapses rapidly, resulting in soil or debris pouring in at high speeds with substantial force. In some of these instances, workers can easily become trapped, buried, and crushed underneath the debris and dirt. Some of the types of trench collapse that result in injuries or fatalities include:
If substantial amounts of soil or debris remain close to the trench, it can easily fall or surge back into the trench, causing a complete collapse. Workers should make sure that any debris or dirt they remove from the trench remains at a safe distance from the trench.
Shear Wall Collapse
If the top part of a trench wall collapses suddenly, then the soil or debris, which can weigh thousands of pounds, can easily rush into the trench, causing a collapse. In these cases, workers may remain trapped or crushed under the sheer weight of the dirt or debris.
If the very top portion of a trench wall has soil stacked too close to the trench, the upper part of the trench wall may collapse, causing injury or death to any worker inside.
If the middle portion of the trench wall collapses, it may be due to the fact that the trench remains located too closely to some underground utilities or running water. If this is the case, the entire trench can collapse from the middle section.
Causes of Trench Collapses
While the above mentions the types of trench collapses, there are many different reasons according to research by OSHA that actually cause the trench collapses. Some of these include the following:
Unprotected or Unsupported Trenches
Trenches must utilize certain protective systems as required by OSHA, including sloping (cutting trench walls at angles), shoring (installing supports to minimize the risk of collapse), and shielding (installing additional supports to prevent cave-ins). Without these protective supports, trench systems can easily collapse as one cubic yard of soil weighs several tons.
Even if trenches receive support and protection, they may not have all safety mechanisms in place to ensure the prevention of a trench collapse. Some of these supports may not have the correct installation and move over time. Trenches should always receive a proper inspection by qualified persons.
Absence of Exits
Any trench or tunnel should have ways to get both in or out safely for workers (often called egress or access). Every trench must comply with OSHA regulations in order to provide a safe exit for workers in the case of a trench collapse.
Negligence Regarding Spoil Piles
When workers create trenches, they have certain responsibilities regarding how to move and pile soil. If workers place “spoil piles” too close to the tunnel or trench, it may cause catastrophic accidents as the trench may collapse as a result of the spoil pile.
For a free legal consultation with a Trench Collapse Lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (800) 529-9122
Injuries Resulting From Trench Collapses
As anyone can imagine, the injuries related to trench collapses are typically serious or life-threatening. In some cases, workers lose their lives as a result of trench collapses. Some of the injuries resulting from trench collapses include the following:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Burns or other injuries related to electrocution
- Injuries related to oxygen deprivation or depletion
- Respiratory injuries related to toxic fume inhalation
- Injuries related to drowning
- Broken or fractured bones (leading to amputations)
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord injuries (leading to paralysis)
- Internal organ damage or internal bleeding
- Lacerations and bruising
If you suffered injuries due to a trench collapse accident, learn how a Los Angeles trench collapse lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you receive compensation for your injuries due to someone else’s negligence.
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Determining Liability for Trench Collapse Accidents
While many workers believe that they need to file a workers’ compensation claim with respect to their accident, in many cases, another entity or person remains liable and responsible for the trench collapse accident.
In these cases, a worker would have the legal right to pursue a claim under personal injury law against that person or entity for compensation for their injuries and losses that resulted from their negligence. On job sites, many different independent contractors, workers, or companies can work in the same general area, often on the same project.
If you suffered injuries as a direct result of another company worker’s negligence or recklessness, you have the right to pursue compensation directly from that negligent party through a personal injury case.
In other cases, a trench collapse could result from a manufacturing defect. Trenches must have proper supports, and if any of these fail as a result of a manufacturing design defect or flaw in the manufacturing process, workers can easily suffer serious injuries or even death. In these cases, the victim would have the legal right to pursue a product liability case against the manufacturer of the defective product or part.
Some of the entities a victim has the legal right to pursue a claim against following a trench collapse can include the following:
- Property owners
- General contractors
- Independent contractors
- Manufacturers of defective parts or components related to a trench collapse
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Consider How a Los Angeles Trench Collapse Lawyer Can Help You Today
If you suffered injuries related to a trench collapse accident, learn how a Los Angeles trench collapse lawyer can help. Consider contacting Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 529-9122 today.