Construction workers often have to work around dangerous pieces of machinery and equipment, including atop scaffolding or ladders. They also have to use dangerous tools regularly, including jackhammers, drills, and saws, all of which can malfunction and lead to worker injuries.
Injuries sustained in a construction accident can also be extremely debilitating and can prevent you from working for a long time. Construction workers can suffer broken bones, traumatic head and brain injuries, spinal cord and back injuries (including paralysis injuries), soft tissue injuries, and in some cases, fatal injuries that lead to a construction worker’s untimely death.
Possible Claims for Construction Injuries
If you work in the construction industry and suffer injuries in an accident that occurs while you are working, you should assert a legal claim for workers’ compensation benefits in your state. This is true regardless of what caused your accident and who was at fault. Potential benefits typically include medical coverage, compensation for a portion of your lost wages, and various types of disability benefits, among others.
In many states that utilize a workers’ compensation system, workers cannot sue their employers directly for injuries that they suffer while they are working on the job. Instead, they must utilize the workers’ compensation system to seek benefits.
In addition to making a claim for workers’ compensation benefits following a construction accident, however, you may assert one or more third-party claims against an at-fault party not related to your employer. For example, you could sue the manufacturer of a piece of construction equipment that malfunctioned and caused you to suffer an injury while working on the job.
When it comes to workers’ compensation and third-party personal injury cases, you will oftentimes be dealing with an insurance company that is not on your side, and that will do everything possible to protect its own interests and save itself money. In workers’ compensation cases, for example, some insurance companies might go so far as to try to say that you faked your injuries and/or that your injuries were pre-existing (i.e., that you did not suffer your injuries while you were working on the job).
Therefore, if you sustained injuries in a construction accident while on the job—and while you were working within the scope of your employment—you should consider retaining an experienced construction accident attorney near you to represent you in your legal matter. Your lawyer can determine if you are eligible to assert a workers’ compensation claim against your employer and/or a third-party claim against another responsible party. If you are eligible, your lawyer can make the necessary claim or lawsuit on your behalf and help you pursue the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
Types of Construction Accidents that Can Lead to Serious Injuries
Numerous construction accidents can lead to serious injuries and other damages.
Some of the most common accidents include:
- Construction equipment and machinery malfunctions – Construction workers often must work around equipment and machinery that are both dangerous and heavy. This equipment can also sometimes malfunction, causing a construction worker to sustain serious injuries or disfigurement. Workers may also suffer a crush injury when something goes wrong with a heavy piece of machinery.
- Construction vehicle collisions – Construction sites utilize various vehicles, including diggers, dump trucks, cement mixers, and other vehicles. Construction site vehicles, just like vehicles utilized on roadways, can be involved in an accident. The driver of the vehicle could negligently bring about a collision with another vehicle, a worker, or a stationary object at the construction site, causing serious and sometimes fatal injuries in the process.
- Electrocution accidents – When construction workers are around electrical wiring—such as those who are working on a house or another building being constructed from scratch—something can go wrong, resulting in a serious accident. In some instances, these accidents result from faulty wiring or careless workers. These electrocution accidents can also bring about serious injuries—most especially, burn injuries.
- Falls – Fall accidents are also extremely common on construction sites. Construction workers often have to work from heights, such as on top of buildings, scaffolding, and ladders. In addition, slippery surfaces abound on construction sites, and a worker could slip and fall to the ground. If a worker falls to the ground from a significant height, he or she could suffer serious injuries, such as broken bones and spinal cord injuries. In some instances, a fall accident could even lead to the accident victim’s premature death.
If you suffered injuries in one of these accidents that occurred at a construction site, then you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits. Also, under certain circumstances, you might be eligible to file a third-party claim against an at-fault individual or entity.
An experienced construction accident lawyer near you can investigate the circumstances of your accident and determine your legal options. If you are eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim and/or file a lawsuit, your attorney will help you pursue the full benefits and monetary compensation that you deserve for the injuries you suffered at your construction job.
Eligibility to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim After a Construction Accident
Eligibility to file a workers’ compensation claim after a construction accident varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In most states, the workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system. This means that you can pursue and recover workers’ compensation benefits without regard to who caused your on-the-job injury.
To qualify, you must have suffered an injury or illness while you were working on the job—and while you were engaged in activities within the scope of your employment. A worker ordinarily works ‘within the scope of employment’ when he or she carries out a particular job responsibility or duty.
In addition, to be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, you must be working as an employee when you suffer your on-the-job illness or injury, rather than as an independent contractor. In some cases, it can be difficult to tell whether an individual is truly an employee as opposed to an independent contractor. Generally speaking, employees have set hours, set responsibilities, and a set pay structure. Independent contractors, on the other hand, are usually free to set their own schedules and come and go as they see fit.
Potential Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Construction Injuries
Individuals who suffer one or more physical injuries while working at a construction site may recover various types of workers’ compensation benefits. First of all, an injured worker could file a claim for all of the medical bills that he or she incurred for treatment received following a construction accident. Medical treatment includes doctor visits, medical procedures (such as surgeries and injections), and physical therapy that become necessary due to the construction accident injury or injuries.
In some states, injured construction workers are free to select their own medical providers, while in other areas, these workers must see a physician recommended by their employer’s insurance company. Injured workers may also be eligible for reimbursement for the travel costs they incurred going to and from medical appointments.
In addition to receiving these medical benefits, an injured construction worker could recover a portion of his or her lost wages resulting from the construction accident. Lost wage benefits are usually a portion of the worker’s average weekly wage, as recorded over a specific time.
Also, in some construction accidents, workers suffer injuries to such an extent that a healthcare provider determines that the injury or injuries are permanent—according to American Medical Association guidelines. Healthcare providers often share their findings in the form of a disability rating.
For example, a healthcare provider might determine that a worker suffered a ten percent permanent impairment to his or her back as a result of the workplace accident. If the injured construction worker suffered a permanent disability, then he or she may receive a permanency award. These awards are sometimes spread out over time (such as weekly or bi-weekly), or they may involve a lump-sum payment.
Moreover, in some instances, a construction worker might sustain injuries so severe that he or she cannot return to his or her former job. Some injured workers might even have to switch to a new line of work altogether. When that is the case, the injured construction worker may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation and training services.
If you suffered injuries in a construction accident, a knowledgeable construction accident attorney in your area can assist you with filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits with your employer’s insurance company and pursue the various benefits that you deserve. It is always best to have a construction accident attorney to evaluate and act on all of your options.
Suing a Third Party Following a Construction Site Accident
In most jurisdictions throughout the country, injured workers generally don’t need to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against their employer directly for injuries they sustained in a construction site accident—they file for workers’ compensation instead. That, of course, is not so easy as it sounds, and often requires an experienced lawyer to help resolve in your favor.
However, depending on the circumstances of the accident, they may file a claim or lawsuit against some third party who caused or contributed to the construction site accident and the injuries that the worker suffered as a result.
Depending on how your construction site accident and injuries occurred, you might pursue a third-party claim against any of the following individuals or entities:
- Others who were present on the construction site – On construction sites, various individuals, including project managers, project supervisors, and general contractors, are responsible for supervising the work that occurs on-site—and for making sure that the construction site is properly maintained and in a safe condition for workers. If your construction site accident occurred because one or more of these individuals was negligent under the circumstances, then you might assert a third-party claim or lawsuit against the responsible person or persons.
- Manufacturers of defective construction equipment or parts – The manufacturers of construction equipment and parts have a duty to ensure that their equipment/parts are properly designed and tested before being made available for purchase. When a part or equipment defect happens due to improper manufacturing or design, then you could file a claim or lawsuit against the negligent manufacturer, developer, or some other party in the chain of product distribution.
- Negligent motor vehicle operators – In some instances, construction workers are involved in motor vehicle accidents caused by a negligent driver. The other driver may have disregarded the rules of the road or may have been distracted while behind the wheel. If another driver’s negligence resulted in an accident that caused you to suffer an injury while you were on the job, then you could assert a third-party claim or file a lawsuit against the negligent motor vehicle operator.
As part of a third-party case, you may be eligible to pursue and recover various categories of damages for the injuries you suffered in your construction accident. For example, you could pursue compensation for all of your medical treatment costs, lost wages, inconvenience, and pain and suffering that resulted from your injuries.
Also, when it comes to third-party personal injury cases, most states have a statute of limitations that applies. The statute of limitations establishes a deadline by which you must file a lawsuit against a third party. In some jurisdictions, this deadline may be as short as one year.
If the defendant is a government agency, you may only have months to file your claim.
Therefore, if you want to file a third-party claim arising from your construction accident, you should speak with a knowledgeable construction accident attorney near you as soon as possible. If you are eligible to file such a claim or lawsuit, your lawyer will ensure that it is filed within the statutory deadline. He or she can then help you calculate and pursue the money damages that you deserve for your injuries.