Although these lights are a great source of light, they are also a hazard as anyone can easily fall through the skylight, resulting in severe injuries, permanent disabilities, and, worse cases, death.
There can be different causes for skylight injuries, but victims can pursue legal lawsuits against the negligent party for those injuries involving negligence. Ehline Law and our skylight injury attorneys help you understand your rights and legal options.
There are more than 275,000 skylights sold each year commercially, and although these light-emitting structures liven up a space, they are more dangerous than they seem. There are many ways an individual can get involved in a skylight accident.
Skylights lose their strength over time as the sun’s UV light slowly alters the material’s chemical makeup, making the skylight more brittle. There is a chance that someone leaning, sitting, slipping, falling, or walking on it can cause the skylight to break, and a person falling through results in skylight fall injuries. The victims of fall injuries are predominantly workers on the job doing inspections, repairing, or cleaning. However, these injuries can also happen to guests using the roof for recreational activities in a commercial building.
Skylights can especially become dangerous when they are not visible. This usually occurs during winters when heavy snowfall can completely hide them. Even careful ones may end up stepping on one, causing it to break and fall through.
Skylights can also break and fall onto people because of poor installations or water damage. Leaks can cause leakages, weakening the beams and causing the skylight to break. Extreme weather conditions such as hail, storms, or heavy snow can cause a skylight to fail, severely injuring people below it.
These structures or windows can also cause slip and fall accidents. It is easy to completely seal a roof against the rain, but it is more challenging to seal a skylight. A poor seal can cause water to leak through it and onto the floor below, making it slippery and increasing the chances of slip and fall accidents for anyone walking by.
The injuries from a skylight fall depend on the height the accident victim falls from. In cases where the height is greater, it can even lead to untimely deaths. In 2017, around 40% of the construction worker deaths were due to falls, including people falling through skylights.
The material used in a skylight can not withstand a person’s weight and pose a serious threat to those working in rooftop-related jobs such as a constructor, repairer, inspector, skylight installer, and others. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 907 accidents were recorded that involved a person falling through a skylight, with the majority of these skylight accidents fatal. Tragically, with proper safety measures and adequate fall protection safeguards, these accidents could’ve been prevented.
Depending on the location of your fall, how you fall, and from the height you fall, different types of injuries can occur, or in worse cases, even skylight death.
Some of the common fall injuries include:
Traumatic brain injuries
Broken bones or fractures
Skylight fall accidents can be fatal if the accident victims do not receive immediate medical treatment, leading to skylight deaths.
When filing a personal injury claim, it is essential to determine the negligent party. Three parties may be responsible for your skylight injury.
Naturally, the first party everyone looks to when injuries from a skylight accident happen is the building owner. Premises liability requires building owners to provide adequate safety and a safe environment for all their occupants and guests. The building owner has a duty of care to the invitees, and the failure to provide a strong skylight and a lack of safety railings is an act of negligence, in which case the victim can hold the building owner responsible.
Construction industry workers are the ones most exposed to skylight injuries, and the most severe skylight injuries happen when they are not provided with sufficient safety gear (Ex: Personal Fall Arrest Systems, safety nets, etc.) Many larger construction companies doing roof repairs invest in training and special safety equipment. But smaller companies often overlook this, increasing the risk to exposed and inexperienced employees. Employers are responsible for providing protective measures such as skylight safety guards around the skylight to prevent skylight accidents and serious injuries. If the employer is negligent, the worker is liable for compensation through a workers’ compensation claim or third-party personal injury lawsuit.
Sometimes accidents can occur due to faulty safety features in a skylight or a poorly manufactured one. In such cases, victims must pursue product liability against negligent skylight manufacturers.
Product liability holds businesses responsible for product defects, design defects, manufacturing defects, and improper labeling.
Accident victims can pursue compensation from negligent parties for any injuries sustained due to the accidents. However, surviving family members may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the makers of roof repair products. (Ex: Aging or defective skylight breaks underneath and a skylight death occurs.)
If you or a loved one received injuries from a skylight accident, or fall through roof openings, do not hesitate to contact us. Call (213) 596-9642 for a free consultation. Ehline Law personal injury attorneys can provide you with the necessary resources and legal expertise to secure a maximum settlement. Contact us 24/7.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer on the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.
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