Should I Hire a Construction Accident Attorney?
Construction is a necessary industry, but a dangerous occupation. Those who work on construction sites witness the potential for many types of injuries every day. Sadly, potential hazards can quickly turn into accidents due to the negligence of others.
A construction accident lawyer can help if you have suffered an injury in a construction accident. You may be entitled to receive benefits from your state’s workers’ compensation system or pursue damages through a third-party claim. In either case, an attorney can make all the difference when it comes to maximizing your compensation.
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 due to preventable risks such as lack of training, operator errors, equipment malfunctions, and lack of protective equipment. Far too often, 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
Slips and falls
Gas leaks, fires, and explosions
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 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. An accident can keep victims from enjoying their lives and 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 living expenses.
An experienced construction accident attorney can help you seek compensation for many types of construction injuries, including:
At Wyatt Law Firm, we have the necessary experience to accurately value your injuries. If necessary, we can turn to medical professionals and outside experts who can provide pertinent insight into how your injuries may affect your claim.
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 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
Other out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel to medical appointments
Non-economic damages include subjective losses and suffering, such as:
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 specific amounts of punitive damages 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 of 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. They may not be allowed to file a third-party negligence claim in these incidents. 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.
You may be able to hold several parties liable for a construction accident injury, including:
You cannot file a workers’ compensation claim and expect to get all the benefits you deserve for the failure of another party. Numerous parties are part of the day-to-day operations of a construction site. If a ceiling suddenly collapses, this is not due to your employer’s negligence, but the property owner's. Before filing any claim, you must seek medical attention and speak to a construction site accident attorney.
Third-Party Claims: The Elements of Negligence
As is the case with other personal injury claims, an injured worker in a construction site accident 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 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. Even if you only file 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 intended to terminate a worker with cause, they can still dismiss that employee while they are out on workers’ comp. If you believe your employer let you go from your job because you filed 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?
The statute of limitations restricts the time an injured party has to file a legal claim for their injuries. Each state has its own deadline; typically one to four years after the date of the accident.
It is in your best interest to contact a construction accident attorney as soon as you can after 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 doesn'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 be able to use the court system to pursue your injury claim, making 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; you don’t need any money upfront to meet with or hire an attorney, and you owe 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.
Why Hire an Attorney For a Construction Accident
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.
When you hire a lawyer with experience in construction site accident cases, they can:
Determine what your claim is worth: There are limits and specific calculations to consider when filing a worker’s compensation claim. You are unaware of the extent of your injuries and future damages. However, your case is worth much more when it is a third-party claim. Your personal injury attorney will identify the at-fault party and hold them accountable for their role in your injury.
Deal with the insurance company and adjusters: Your attorney can handle these communications on your behalf, ensuring that you’re able to focus on your physical recovery while they take care of legal matters.
Provide sound legal advice: When the insurance company offers you a settlement, you may think you have won. The reality is they are trying to end the process and avoid you taking the case any further. While the decision to accept an offer is ultimately in your hands, your lawyer can help you make the most informed choices possible.
Represent you in court: If your case goes to trial, you will need an experienced attorney on your side.
Handle administrative work and meet all critical deadlines: A lawyer’s primary role within your case is to file the necessary paperwork and meet all legal deadlines.
Maximize your compensation: There are multiple methods of compensation you will be entitled to after a construction accident. Depending on the specifics of your accident, you might file multiple claims at once to get maximum compensation.
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. At Wyatt Law Firm, our experienced legal professionals are committed to seeking justice for injured victims and treating each and every case with the dignity and perseverance it deserves.
The most effective way to seek this compensation is with the help of a skilled construction accident attorney.
Remember that you only have a limited time to pursue an injury claim after sustaining an injury in a construction accident. The sooner you contact our San Antonio personal injury law firm, the sooner we can begin the process of pursuing the compensation you need to move forward. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your options.