Regarding the most dangerous jobs in the United States, construction work ranks number two, falling just behind motor vehicle drivers. This number applies to fatalities as well as non-fatal work-related injuries.
Some injuries are treatable, while many accidents on construction sites result in permanent disability and lifelong medical care. Regardless, a construction accident lawyer can file a third-party liability claim for you if someone other than your employer contributed to the accident.
Common construction site accidents
In a recent year, workers reported nearly 175,000 non-fatal construction injuries and over 1,000 people died in construction accidents. Construction injuries vary widely.
Some of the most common types of work-related injuries and ailments in the construction industry include:
- Fall injuries – Workers subjected to roofing and high-rise work are at a greater risk. However, fall injuries can occur on any site where workers are at heights.
- Burns – Explosions, welding torches, or hot materials and surfaces can cause these.
- Impact injuries – Flying or falling objects, as well as moving vehicles, can cause impact injuries.
- Heat stress/heat stroke – Most construction sites are outdoors, and construction garb tends to be weighty and thick, leading to overheating.
- Machinery-related injuries – Saws, drills, sanders, and large machinery pose significant risks to workers.
- Repetitive motion (or cumulative trauma) injuries – Carpal tunnel syndrome, sprains, and tendonitis are a few conditions that can result from performing repetitive tasks.
- Heavy lifting injuries – Hernias, pinched nerves, and torn muscles resulting from heavy manual lifting are remarkably common in the construction industry.
- Sensory impairment – More than half of construction sites expose workers to dangerous noise levels, often resulting in hearing loss or damage.
- Electrocution – Construction workers are approximately four times more likely to be electrocuted than all other industries combined.
Workers shouldn’t foot the bill.
Becoming injured in a construction accident can be emotionally traumatic, physically painful, and extremely expensive. But no one injured on the job should ever have to reach into their own pockets to cover the costs of the accident. Nearly all work-related injuries compel some level of compensation for medical bills and lost income. You can likely file a third-party claim if you suffered an injury on a construction site.
However, the unfortunate reality is that victims of construction accidents often don’t know their rights. Many workers never pursue compensation for their injuries and lost income and spend the rest of their lives in medical debt. Understanding that you deserve excellent care for your injuries and compensation for your losses is the first step to a just outcome.
When workers’ compensation benefits aren’t enough
After experiencing an injury on the job, you’ll likely wonder what your options are. You may have heard of workers’ compensation, but on its own, this is not always the best route to take. On the surface, this system seems to benefit only workers, but it is largely in place to protect employers. Because workers’ compensation exists, suing an employer for injuries is illegal.
Additionally, workers’ compensation rarely pays for everything injured employees lose. Benefits don’t always cover the full amount of a worker’s medical expenses and lost income, leaving workers with no recourse to make up the difference. After an employee suffers an injury at work, a construction accident lawyer may advise you to file to file a third-party claim.
What is a third-party claim?
When an individual or company (other than a worker’s employer) can be considered partially or fully at fault for an accident, a worker can file what is known as a third-party claim against them. Unlike employers, third parties have no protection from workers’ compensation laws and can face lawsuits for negligence if their actions led to or contributed to a worker’s injury. For injured employees, this may come as a surprise.
Many people who have experienced an accident at work never consider how the event happened or whether a third party – who may not have even been at the scene – might have contributed to it. However, third-party negligence for workplace injuries is not uncommon.
Below are a few situations where a worker might file a lawsuit against a negligent third party.
- Your injury occurred while you were using defective equipment. If a faulty construction tool malfunctions during use and causes injury, you may be liable to sue the product manufacturer.
- Your injury occurred as a result of a structural collapse. If the collapse of walls, floors, scaffolding, or other structures led to your injury, you can file a lawsuit against the engineers or architects responsible for flawed structural design.
- Your injury occurred as a result of a property hazard. Owners of construction sites are legally required to ensure a safe environment for workers. Property owners may be liable for any resulting worker injuries if there are unexpected hazards on site, such as holes, toxic materials, or slip-and-fall hazards.
- Your injury was the fault of a subcontractor. Because subcontractors cannot legally be considered employers, any negligence or recklessness that leads to an injury may present grounds to sue.
- Your injury occurred in a traffic accident while working in a construction zone. If you were struck by a vehicle or suffered injuries due to the negligence of another driver, whether a civilian or fellow worker, you can pursue damages against the vehicle’s driver and/or owner.
Talk to an experienced construction accident attorney about your case today. The sooner you talk to an attorney, the sooner you can begin the claims process. You do not have an unlimited amount of time to file a claim. Do not lose out on the opportunity to recover compensation for your injuries. Time is of the essence. Make the call today.
Construction sites: A minefield of hazards
There are many other possible scenarios that may necessitate the pursuit of a third-party claim. Because hazards tend to be common on construction sites, accidents occur daily in the industry. If you work in construction, you are familiar with the possible dangers of working in an inherently hazardous environment and understand the importance of safety guidelines.
While those who work in construction expect some level of risk, a significant portion of construction accidents can be directly linked to negligence by a third party.
Below is a list of some of the most common negligent hazards that may lead to accidents and injuries, creating possible grounds for a worker to file a third-party claim.
- Uneven, broken, or missing stairs
- Missing or faulty handrails
- High levels of lead or other harmful substances
- Electrical hazards
- Collapsing structures such as walls and roofs
- Fire hazards
- Corrosive materials
- Defective equipment and tools
- Dangerously hot conditions
- Dangerously high noise levels
- Holes, exposed pipes, or other slip-and-fall hazards
- Exposure to toxic fumes or asbestos
- Inadequate lighting or other visual hazards
- Vehicle accidents
Third-party claims provide a more flexible option.
The above list is not exhaustive, but these examples provide insight into the unsafe conditions construction laborers must navigate every time they clock in to work. Often, injuries resulting from the above hazards are the employer’s fault. But because workers’ compensation laws protect employers, they cannot legally face injury lawsuits in most situations. Fortunately, however, the option to file a third-party claim unties workers’ hands.
In cases where a lawyer can attribute fault to another company or individual, injured workers can pursue the compensation they deserve. Also, unlike workers’ compensation, no arbitrary cap appplies to the damages one can claim in a third-party lawsuit. This often translates to higher payouts for injured workers.
Medical bills are the bare minimum.
In addition to no ceiling on third-party claims, many other factors make this the preferred course of action for injured employees. For instance, third-party claims present the opportunity to sue for more than just the cost of your medical bills or other economic damages.
In many cases, litigants can file claims to recover compensation for:
- Pain and suffering. Those injured in a construction accident usually experience great physical pain, mental distress, or both. If your accident left you with emotional trauma, anxiety, physical pain, or inconvenience, you might be entitled to pain and suffering damages.
- Property damage. If your personal property was damaged or destroyed during your accident, you can pursue additional claims to cover those losses.
- Indemnity. During your period of medical treatment and recovery, it is likely that you’ve had to miss work due to doctors’ appointments or time spent in the hospital. You also may be permanently unable to work if your injury left you chronically disabled. Workers should pursue compensation for any lost income.
- Wrongful death. If a family member died in a construction accident, relatives can pursue wrongful death litigation, covering monetary losses and non-economic damages such as grief and emotional suffering.
- Punitive damages. In some cases, egregious or illicit conduct on the part of a third party may have contributed to a worker’s mental or physical harm. In these instances, plaintiffs may seek additional damages for any wrongful offense committed against them.
- Disfigurement. If your injury left you permanently scarred or disfigured, this can translate to additional pain, inconvenience, and emotional distress. You may be entitled to even more than baseline pain and suffering damages.
What to do before you file your third-party claim
Experiencing an accident or injury at work can be a traumatic and painful experience. Afterward, when facing the prospect of taking legal action, you may be feeling even more distressed, unsure, or even overwhelmed.
That is why we’ve outlined a few simple and easy steps that you should take before opening your case:
- Seek medical help. The most important step you should take after experiencing an accident on the job is receiving medical attention. First and foremost, ensure your own physical and emotional well-being. Get treatment for your physical injuries, and you may even want to talk to your therapist if you are experiencing acute emotional or mental distress.
- File a report. Once you receive initial treatment for any medical issues resulting from an accident, report the incident to your manager. Creating a solid record of events helps to establish your timeline, and a speedy report lends credibility to the severity of your case. Be sure to include only relevant details in your report, and avoid giving more information than is necessary.
- Gather evidence. One of the most important actions before filing a claim is compiling everything relating to your case. This includes documentation such as reports and medical bills, photo/video evidence of your injuries, photo/video evidence of conditions on the accident scene, and witness accounts of the incident.
- Do not talk to insurers. In your case, the defendant’s insurer will eventually learn of your intentions to sue and attempt to contact you. It is very important to avoid talking to insurance companies. They may act as though your statements will help your case, but in reality, they are often looking for holes in your story that will enable them to reduce your compensation.
- Follow the doctor’s instructions. Make it a point to follow all of the instructions your doctor provided after suffering an injury in a construction accident. This includes going to physical therapy, follow-up appointments, taking prescribed medications, wearing medical gear, and more. Deviating from these instructions can hurt your claim.
How to begin the process of filing your third-party claim?
After taking the steps outlined above, you’re ready for the next stage: getting legal advice. A knowledgeable injury lawyer can review your case, listen to your account of the accident, go over your options, and help you determine the best way to proceed with your case. An experienced injury attorney will understand the importance of carefully considering every case.
Your attorney will take the stresses of talking to insurers and investigating liability off your plate while ensuring you are at the forefront of the decision-making process.
Contact a personal injury lawyer in San Antonio today to schedule a free case review, and they can begin the process of helping you claim the maximum compensation you deserve.