Construction work is not only physically challenging but also incredibly dangerous. Construction workers face serious risks every time they show up on the job site. Accidents on construction sites happen all too frequently, and when they do, injured workers may be entitled to compensation.
However, it isn’t always easy to figure out whether to pursue a workers’ compensation claim or a third-party personal injury claim. Even once you determine the correct type of claim, there are often hurdles that come up along the way.
If you’ve been injured in a construction site accident, there is no need to take on the burden of bringing a claim on your own. A construction accident attorney can not only help you figure out the right type of claim to bring but also handle everything for you, so you can focus on recovering from your injuries and getting back to work.
What to Do After a Construction Injury
If you’ve been hurt while working on a construction site, chances are you’re focused on your recovery. Bringing a legal claim may not be at the front of your mind. However, even if you are not sure that you want to bring a claim, it’s important to preserve your ability to do so.
What if your injuries are more serious than you initially thought? Or what if they get worse?
If you are on the fence about what to do, that’s normal. However, before making any decision, be sure to do the following:
- Get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible;
- Document the accident scene;
- Report the accident to your employer; and
- Talk with an attorney about your options.
You can’t make an informed decision about bringing a claim unless you know how serious your injuries are and what you may be entitled to. Resist the urge to work through your injuries, as doing so will only jeopardize your health and may end up leaving you with even more serious injuries.
Legal Remedies for Those Injured in Construction Accidents
Construction workers who are hurt while on the job may be entitled to compensation through one of two sources (and, in some cases, possibly both). The options are a workers’ compensation claim or a third-party personal injury claim.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
While every state has different workers’ compensation laws, they are all quite similar. The workers’ compensation system offers a way for injured employees to obtain limited benefits after an on-the-job injury or after being diagnosed with a work-related illness. Workers’ compensation is actually an insurance program under which employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. When an employee suffers an injury related to their work, the employee files a claim, and the insurance company covers the cost of the employee’s benefits.
Workers’ compensation claims have a few things going for them. For starters, workers’ comp programs are no-fault systems, meaning there is no requirement that you prove anyone else was responsible for your injuries. They are also generally resolved faster than personal injury claims.
However, there are also a few downsides to workers’ compensation claims. Most notably, injured workers cannot obtain non-economic damages for their injuries. Among other things, this means that you cannot recover compensation for any damages related to your pain and suffering. Additionally, the amount of money you can recover for lost income may be limited to a percentage, rather than the full amount, of the wages you miss out on due to your injuries.
The other thing to note about workers’ comp cases is that, generally, they are an injured worker’s sole remedy against their employer. This means that you probably cannot bring a personal injury claim against your employer if you qualify for workers’ comp benefits.
Third-Party Personal Injury Claims
The second type of construction accident claim is a third-party personal injury lawsuit. While workers’ comp laws prohibit injured workers from filing a claim against their employer, there is no restriction on bringing a personal injury case against any other party who was responsible for your injuries. This is especially relevant in the construction industry, where workers are using dangerous tools that could be defective and are working alongside others who do not work for the same employer.
The major challenge with third-party personal injury claims is you must prove that another party’s negligence caused your injuries. However, if successful, you will generally be entitled to more money than you would be through a workers’ comp claim because non-economic damages are available through third-party personal injury claims. Of course, you can also recover money damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, and decreased earning capacity.
Types of Construction Accidents
Those in the construction industry know that it takes more than a few people to complete a project. There are carpenters, plumbers, electricians, drywallers, plumbers, demolition teams, heavy equipment operators, painters, welders, ironworkers, and the list goes on. Each of these jobs poses its own unique risks. However, a few of the most common—and most serious—construction accidents include:
- Being struck by a falling object
- Chemical burns
- Crane accidents
- Electrocution accidents
- Electrocution accidents
- Forklift accidents
- Heavy equipment accidents
- Scaffolding accidents
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Trenching and excavation injuries
- Welding accidents
Of course, this is an incomplete list as there are countless hazards facing construction workers every day they show up to the job site. Many construction injuries are caused by the negligence of other sub-contractors, product manufacturers, or property owners. A third-party personal injury claim may be the best choice in these cases.
To cut to the chase, if you’ve been injured in a construction accident, you should reach out to an attorney to discuss your options. While you may not feel the need to file a claim right this minute, you don’t know how you’re going to feel down the road. It’s best to understand your options and preserve your rights now, while you still can, so that all options are open to you later on if you need them.