What to Know Before Hiring a Construction Accident AttorneyMay 18, 2016
You’re on a construction site and—almost out of nowhere—a large beam knocks you out, leaving you unconscious and in pain. You’ve suffered a head wound and broken your leg in the fall, causing you to stay off your feet for the next few months. Workers’ compensation might help you to a certain extent, but should you incorporate a construction accident attorney to get what you deserve?
In many instances, violations of workplace safety standards contribute to serious accidents that result in injuries. Construction accidents have become so frequent that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has dubbed the four most common injuries the “Fatal Four.” These include:
- Being struck by object
- Getting caught in or between objects
With manual labor as the only source of income for many people, this injury can negatively affect workers physically and financially as they recover. Since potential risks are an assumed part of the job, it’s important to know what steps you should take if an incident like this occurs.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Seek immediate medical treatment
With heavy equipment and hazardous chemicals all over a construction site, accidents can result in severe injuries which makes receiving medical attention right after the incident a high priority. Even if you only sustained minor cuts and bruises, it will be beneficial for your case to have each injury documented by a medical representative.
- Report the accident to your employer
In the moment of the incident, you will likely be in shock, in pain and overwhelmed, but it’s crucial for the outcome of your situation that you report everything that has just transpired. Notify your immediate supervisor, human resources representative, or designated company contact of the exact details relating to the accident and report on any injuries you’ve sustained, even if they are minor. This will create an initial record of the accident, which will be necessary for filing claims for monetary reparations through workers’ compensation or a third-party.
- Know your workers’ compensation rights
All 50 states utilize some form of workers’ compensation, which is covered through an employer’s insurance policy. With this in place, an employee is entitled to receive damages for injuries sustained from the accident. There are some construction workers that are limited by law to only receive workers’ compensation for injuries that occurred on a job site, meaning a third-party claim is not an option.
In cases where job safety was not the reason for the injury, it’s possible for workers to receive compensation from parties other than their employer that may be responsible, such as an equipment manufacturer or chemical company. If this party was liable due to faulty machinery or defective tools, an injured worker may be able to file a personal injury claim.
Your supervisors should provide you with the proper information to receive workers’ compensation coverage for your accident.
It’s critical to note that you should not sign a settlement offer brought to you from your employer without consulting with an experienced attorney first.
Construction workers aren’t the only ones at risk for injury. Non-workers can be harmed by falling debris, unmarked holes and unattended machinery. It’s the responsibility of the site contractor to enforce the necessary precautions so that the public is aware of potentially dangerous site conditions.
In some states, if a contractor doesn’t enforce the proper safety precautions, they will be liable for any pedestrian injury that results from their negligence. In states where liability isn’t automatically assumed, the failure to provide basic safety can be used by the injured party as evidence that the contractor should be held responsible for any injuries they sustained.
How can an attorney can help?
Employees typically receive less payment in a workers’ compensation case than they would through a personal injury lawsuit carried out by an experienced attorney. Depending on the type of situation, there may be various parties that should be held accountable for the accident beyond your basic workers’ compensation rights.
Examples of these types of potential faults include:
- A coworker could be responsible if they were negligent in performing their job duties.
- The employer could be liable if they allowed unsafe working conditions.
- A manufacturer could be at fault if defectiveness of their equipment resulted in worker injuries.
If at least one of the above mentioned individuals is responsible, a third-party claim will need to be filed by an attorney in order to take legal action against the negligent party. In many states, if an injury results from an OSHA regulation violation, the construction company is deemed at fault and is then liable for all injuries sustained in the accident.
After an initial consultation with an attorney, you’ll be guided in filing a third-party claim. There will be several steps involved, including:
- Filing the claim
- Gathering and presenting documented evidence
- Negotiating a settlement
- Attending a trial (if necessary)
The statute of limitations for filing a construction accident claim is three years in New Hampshire and three years in Massachusetts. In order to get what you rightfully deserve in a timely manner, it’s crucial to ensure all steps mentioned above are completed and you’ve determine the course of action that’s right for you. You can read more about filing a personal injury claim in our last blog post.
The basic information we’ve listed above should give you a strong starting point for understanding what steps you need to take if you’re injured on a construction site. Your personal situation will determine the proper additional steps you, your employer and/or your attorney will need to take. It’s important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney that can advise you on the right procedures you need to take to accommodate your individual situation.
At Sherman Law, construction accidents have represented a significant portion of our caseload over the last 23 years. If you’re a worker or a passerby and you’ve suffered injuries from a construction accident, contact us for a free consultation.