Mike Williams, the former wide receiver who played for Syracuse University, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Buffalo Bills, retired from professional football in 2016. After his retirement, 36-year-old Williams began to work construction jobs. And it was just such a job that ended his life earlier this month. Unfortunately, these types of accidents are all too common.
On August 21, 2023, a steel beam fell on Williams’ head while he was on a construction site. This catastrophic injury led to brain swelling and a ruptured spinal cord, which left him partially paralyzed. He was rushed to the hospital and put on life support in the ICU. Unfortunately, he succumbed to his injuries on September 12.
What happened to Mike William was a tragedy, but it wasn’t uncommon. Construction accidents injure people and take lives every day, but we rarely hear about them.
Construction Accidents in Ohio — Too Easily Ignored
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction accidents accounted for 14% of all fatal occupational injuries in 2021. This makes construction one of the most dangerous fields, after manufacturing and transportation. Although safety measures have been put in place, there are certain instances that just can’t be predicted — and thereby can’t be prepared for. But there are plenty more dangerous situations that could have been foreseen and therefore could have been avoided.
More and more construction projects have started utilizing an on-site safety office that all accidents get reported to. While they may be called “safety offices,” their purpose is not to increase safety on the site. Rather, these offices are used to minimize the reporting of injuries, keep injured workers from having lost time claims, and ultimately control costs.
It’s impossible from the publicly available details we have about Williams’ accident to determine which sort of accident this was. What is clear, though, is that hundreds of Ohioans are injured every year on construction sites.
What can be done to protect construction workers from these injuries? Safeguards are already in place, including the use of hard hats and other PPE. But it’s clearly not enough if there are thousands of injuries each year. When there is increased pressure to reduce costs and perform faster, safety suffers.
The best way to protect workers is through a robust civil court system that allows individuals to hold the people who hurt them responsible. We need to stand up for every person who has been hurt on a construction site.
What To Do After a Construction Accident
If you’ve been hurt in a construction accident, you’re probably trying to figure out what happens next, especially when you’re still recovering. Don’t worry — help is available. Here are your next steps.
- Contact an attorney like Plevin & Gallucci that has in-depth experience in construction accidents. It’s okay to get in touch even before you know the full extent of your injuries. We offer a free initial consultation and a team of knowledgeable professionals who will walk you through the process and let you know exactly which steps to take.
- Collect any documentation you can about your accident. If you have pictures from immediately after the accident, those can be extremely helpful. Make a list of the people who witnessed your accident. Keep track of all your medical records and receipts.
- Do not agree to talk with your employer about the accident without your attorney present. No matter how friendly you have been in the past, now is the time to protect yourself. Do not sign anything without speaking to your attorney, even if you’re told it needs to be done immediately. This goes double for representatives of their insurance companies.
- Make sure you go to all your scheduled doctor’s appointments. If you’re having trouble affording them, speak with your attorney. It may be possible to pay your doctor from the proceeds of your settlement.
We’re Here to Help
Time will tell whether Mike Williams’ accident could have been avoided with better oversight. Our thoughts go out to the entire Williams family during this difficult time.