Combating Nuclear Verdicts in Construction

Nuclear verdicts, the legal judgments that award plaintiffs over $10million in payouts, are on the rise.  Post-pandemic, the number of cases has skyrocketed, and the median nuclear verdict against corporate defendants exceeded $41million in 2022.

The construction industry is not immune to these threats. In 2021, a jury issued a $74 million verdict against an asphalt company for a death that resulted from a faulty paved road. Especially in the state of New York, the “Scaffold Law”, a law that subjects employers to liability for injuries resulting from a fall rather than considering falls under worker’s compensation, resulted in a recent $102 million verdict for a construction worker.


We, at Tenstreet, are not strangers to this challenge for employers. As the largest provider of services to carriers for driver management in the trucking industry, we have seen the how the impact of these verdicts can drive an increased consciousness around safety.


For Construction, as for Trucking, we’ve also seen how advances in technology have served to raise safety awareness and compliance and prevent avoidable exposure to citations and lawsuits.


For example, no-code app platforms are enabling construction companies to offer custom applications tailored to their unique needs without extensive software development. These apps provide centralized safety reporting, allowing real-time tracking of incidents and hazards. They also support the creation of safety checklists and provide instant alerts and notifications about potential dangers.


In addition, technology has vastly improved the recording and analysis of safety inspections. Safety professionals can now remotely access inspections, track observations by specific conditions or behaviors, and apply multiple data filters for comprehensive risk management. This process allows for a more predictive approach, anticipating and preventing future injuries and incidents. Detailed observations and tracking contractor performance have become more efficient, ensuring accountability and continuous improvement in safety standards.


Finally, let’s not overlook safety training, but in a form that is tailored to the work-life of the construction worker and rewards the worker for safety behavior. Interactive videos, 3D modeling and augmented reality (AR) integrated tools can simulate real-life scenarios for hands-on learning.  And when the completion of training is linked to scorecards and leaderboards that reward the worker for stronger engagement, the result is mutually beneficial and leads to an environment of trust and sharing.


In the end, the integration of these technologies in construction safety management is not just about compliance and nuclear verdict prevention; it’s about creating a culture of safety that is data-driven, proactive, and continuously evolving to meet the challenges of modern construction sites.

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