Construction is a necessary industry but a dangerous occupation. Those who work on construction sites and in this industry face the potential for many different types of injuries every day, from falls to burns and even death. Sadly, some of these happen due to the negligence of other parties.
However, the good news is that a construction accident lawyer can help you if you have suffered an injury in a construction accident. You may be entitled to receive from your state’s workers’ compensation system or even through a third-party claim.
Types of Construction Accidents
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 4,700 workers died while on the job in a recent year. Almost half of all fatal occupational injuries (47.4 percent) happened to workers in transportation and material moving occupations (1,282) and construction and extraction occupations (976).
Construction accidents can occur for many different reasons, such as lack of training, operator errors, equipment malfunctions, and lack of protective equipment. Sometimes these injuries happen because someone failed to do something they should have done.
Some of the most common accidents on construction sites are:
- Crane or hoist accidents
- Falls from heights such as scaffolding, ladders, and roofs
- Slip and falls, even on the ground, can cause serious injuries
- Gas leaks, fires, and explosions
- Forklift accidents
- Trench accidents or collapses
- Elevator shaft accidents
- Machinery accidents due to malfunction or negligence
- Struck-by accidents occur when a worker is hit by a motor vehicle or piece of machinery while working on a construction site
- Caught-between accidents happen when a limb or an individual’s entire body may get caught by a piece of equipment or crushed by the debris of a construction accident
- Exposure to dangerous chemicals or toxins causing severe respiratory illnesses
You should always consult with an experienced construction accident attorney after any of these types of injury events occur. They can help you determine if you have a legal claim and if any other parties should be liable for your damages.
Construction Accidents Can Cause Severe Injuries
Due to the nature of construction sites and what this industry requires, injuries are often severe and even life-threatening. These injuries can keep victims from enjoying their lives or even caring for themselves temporarily or long-term. Injured individuals may be unable to return to work but still have medical bills to pay in addition to their everyday bills.
An experienced construction accident attorney can help you seek compensation for many different construction injuries, including:
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI), including paralysis
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Crushed or amputated limbs
- Illnesses caused by toxic chemical exposure
- Visual impairments or blindness
- Loss of hearing
- Respiratory illnesses
Construction Accident Case Damages
Due to the severity of construction accident injuries, workers who suffer them can suffer severe and long-lasting implications. Damages are the financial representation of an injured individual’s losses, inconveniences, and sufferings. An injured party’s damages typically determine how much monetary compensation, or compensatory damages, they are entitled to receive.
Compensatory damages can be economic (special) or non-economic (general).
Economic damages represent their financial losses and expenses, including:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage
- Other out-of-pocket expenses like travel to medical appointments
Non-economic damages include subjective losses and suffering, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of a bodily function or body part—for example, an amputation
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Even less common are punitive damages. Only the courts can award punitive damages as they aim to punish and prevent certain extremely reckless and wanton behaviors. For example, if one of your co-workers came to work drunk and then negligently operated machinery, which led to your injuries, the court might award punitive damages. Some states also have caps or limits when it comes to the amounts of punitive damages courts have the right to grant.
Even if you do receive punitive damages in your claim, you may not be entitled to receive all of them. Some state laws direct that specific amounts of punitive damages go to certain funds, like victims’ funds within the state.
Workers’ Compensation vs. Third-Party Claims
Depending on the law in the state where your construction accident occurred and the circumstances surrounding your injuries, you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party claim. Typically, workers’ compensation claims hold both the worker and the employer harmless for the worker’s accident and injuries.
Through a workers’ comp claim, the worker can receive compensation for lost wages and medical care. In these incidents, they may not be allowed to file a third-party negligence claim. However, if another party involved possibly had something to do with the injury, they have the right to pursue such a claim.
For instance, suppose another company or worker was contracted to work on the job site and might have played a role in the injury or the injury was due to faulty or malfunctioning equipment. In these cases, the injured worker will have the right to file a third-party injury claim.
Third-Party Claims: The Elements of Negligence
These third-party claims are nearly identical to personal injury claims. The injured worker must prove that the other party was at least partially responsible for causing their injuries.
This usually happens by establishing the elements of negligence:
- Duty: The other party owed you a duty of care. For example, a contract worker has a duty to follow safety protocol, or a machine manufacturer must place proper warnings on their products.
- Breach of duty: The other party failed to uphold their duty of care in one way or another.
- Injuries: The other party’s breach of duty was the proximate cause of your injuries. You wouldn’t have suffered injuries if it weren’t for their actions.
- Damages: You suffered compensable damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering because of your injuries.
Third-party claims can be quite complex and challenging to prove in construction accident cases, especially in conjunction with workers’ comp claims. No matter what type of claim you think you might have the legal right to file, discussing your case with a well-versed construction accident attorney as soon as possible is imperative. Maximizing your compensation begins with this step. Even if you end up just filing a workers’ compensation claim, it’s beneficial to have an attorney on your side.
Can You Lose Your Job for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Sometimes employees hesitate or refuse to file a workers’ comp claim due to their fear of losing their job or facing other types of retaliation after filing a claim. While these fears are real, federal and state laws are typically on your side. In every state, it’s illegal for an employee to fire or otherwise retaliate against a worker for filing a worker’s compensation claim.
Most state laws detail that employees can’t be fired, demoted, or otherwise discriminated against for filing a workers’ comp claim in good faith. However, if an employer had already planned on terminating a worker with cause, they can still fire that employee while they are out on workers’ comp. If you believe your employer let you go from your job for filing a worker’s compensation claim, your first step should be to reach out to an attorney for assistance.
How Long Do You Have to File a Construction Accident Injury Claim?
If you only know one thing about filing a construction accident injury claim, you should know about the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations restricts the time that an injured party has to file a legal claim for their injuries. Each state has its own deadline, which typically runs from one to four years after the date of the accident.
As such, it is in your best interest to contact a construction accident attorney as soon as you can after sustaining your injury. It can take time to gather evidence in your case and take the steps needed to file a lawsuit. The more time your attorney has to work on your case, the more successful it might be.
If you or your attorney don’t file your construction accident injury claim within the allotted legal deadline, the court will more than likely dismiss your case at the request of the other party or their legal counsel. You won’t have the ability to use the court system to pursue your injury claim, which makes it extremely unlikely that you will receive compensation for your construction accident injuries.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Construction Accident Attorney?
Although receiving compensation for damages won’t erase your injuries or make the accident like it never happened, it can give you peace of mind and make your life more comfortable going forward. You may, however, have financial concerns holding you back from seeking the help you need right away.
Too many injured victims have suffered alone without compensation for their economic and non-economic damages because they thought they had to pay a construction attorney upfront for their services. Sadly, they never received the compensation they were entitled to receive. You don’t have to go through the same experience when you receive contingency fee-based legal assistance.
Most construction accident attorneys work on contingency fees only. Which means you don’t need any money upfront to meet with or hire an attorney. Most offer free consultations. If you decide to hire them, they only get paid if and when they obtain money on your behalf—either through a settlement or a court award. You owe them nothing if they don’t receive compensation on your behalf. However, if an attorney is willing to represent your case, this usually means they are confident they can get compensation for your damages.
Should You Hire a Construction Accident Attorney?
If you suffered an injury on the job, it’s in your best interest to schedule a consultation with a construction accident attorney. They can review the details of your accident and injuries to determine if you have a workers’ compensation or a third-party claim. Whatever your next steps need to be to pursue the compensation you are entitled to receive, they can help you.
The benefits of hiring a construction accident attorney include:
- They can file your claims on your behalf
- They can deal with the insurance companies
- They can ensure they meet all legal and claim deadlines
- They protect your rights
- They can inform and educate you about your legal rights, responsibilities, and options
- They can give you peace of mind and the space and time to focus on recovering from your injuries
- They can maximize your compensation in many ways
- They can determine who is liable for your injuries or if a third party is liable
- They can keep track of your case—including documentation and court filings
Even after paying for legal representation, most workplace construction accident victims receive more for their claim than if they hadn’t turned to an attorney for help. It’s well worth it to hire an experienced construction accident lawyer who will work tirelessly to ensure you get the most for your injury damages.
Did You Sustain Injuries in a Construction Accident? Contact a Knowledgeable Construction Accident Lawyer Today
When you or a loved one has suffered a severe injury in a construction accident, you need the best accident attorney available one who knows how to determine who is liable for your injuries and will hold them accountable, even if that means going to court. You deserve justice for your injuries.
The most effective way to seek this compensation is with the help of a skilled construction accident attorney. The sooner you contact one at a San Antonio personal injury law firm, the more you can protect your rights and maximize your compensation.
Remember that you only have a limited time to pursue an injury claim after sustaining an injury in a construction accident.