While construction safety has improved dramatically in recent years, we also know that the construction industry can be a dangerous place, and accidents, unfortunately do still happen. OSHA reports that nearly 3% of construction workers are injured every year. If you’ve been injured on a construction site and want to understand your legal rights to compensation, this guide is for you.
We understand how overwhelming it can be, especially if you’re dealing with the aftermath of an accident. You’re not just facing physical pain, but you’re also likely grappling with the stress of medical bills, lost wages, and the uncertainty of what comes next. That’s where construction accident lawyers come into play. They can help you understand your rights and navigate the complex world of workers’ compensation.
Common Construction Accident Causes and Injuries
Construction workers face a unique set of challenges and hazards that make them particularly susceptible to injury. In the unfortunate event of an accident, there are several types of injuries that are most commonly sustained on construction sites.
- Falls: Whether from scaffolding, ladders, or other heights, falls are one of the most common causes of injury on construction sites. These can lead to broken bones, spinal injuries, concussions, traumatic brain injuries and even death.
- Electrocutions: With many electrical tools and wires around, construction workers often face a risk of electrocution. This can result in burns, cardiac arrest, or other serious complications.
- Caught-in/between: Workers can get caught in or between equipment, objects, or structures, leading to crushing injuries that may involve fractures, amputations, or even death.
- Overexertion: The physical demands of construction work can lead to overexertion injuries like sprains, strains, and repetitive motion injuries.
- Exposure to harmful substances: Many construction tasks involve contact with hazardous chemicals and substances, which can cause burns, respiratory issues, and other health problems.
It’s important to remember that these injuries can have a significant impact on a worker’s quality of life and ability to earn a living. If you’ve been injured on a construction site, it may be wise to consult with a construction accident lawyer to understand your legal rights and options.
Steps to Follow When Making a Construction Accident Claim
After a construction site accident, it’s crucial to take the right steps to protect your rights. Below are some necessary steps you should follow to ensure you get the compensation you deserve:
- Seek immediate medical attention: Your health should be your top concern. Even if you think the injury is minor, get it checked by a medical professional. This will provide a medical record that could be helpful later.
- Report the incident: Inform your supervisor or employer as soon as possible about the accident. Make sure the details of the incident are recorded in the company’s accident log.
- Document the accident: Take photographs of the accident scene, your injuries, and any unsafe conditions or equipment. These can serve as compelling evidence.
- Identify witnesses: If there were other workers or individuals who saw the accident, get their contact information. They could provide crucial testimonies.
- Consult with a construction accident lawyer: Lawyers specialized in this field can provide invaluable advice on your rights and the course of action to take. They can help navigate through the complexities of workers’ compensation claims.
How a Construction Accident Lawyer Can Help You Get the Compensation You Deserve
Construction accident lawyers are experts at helping injured workers navigate the often complex process of securing workers’ compensation benefits. They are skilled at interpreting and applying laws related to the construction industry, and they have a deep understanding of the risks and hazards present on construction sites. Here’s how they can assist you:
- Understanding OSHA Standards: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets and enforces standards for safe and healthy working conditions. Construction accident lawyers have a comprehensive understanding of these standards, which can be crucial in determining whether your employer complied with them.
- Identifying Common Construction Hazards: These lawyers are familiar with the common hazards on construction sites, such as falls from heights, being struck by objects, electrocutions, and being caught in or between objects. They can evaluate the circumstances of your accident to establish if it resulted from one of these hazards.
- Assessing Employer Responsibilities: Your employer has a duty of care to maintain safe working conditions. This includes providing appropriate training, ensuring equipment is safe to use, and carrying out regular risk assessments. If your employer has been negligent in these areas, a construction accident lawyer can help you demonstrate this.
- Reviewing Construction Accident Statistics: Understanding the prevalence and types of construction accidents can help build your case. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in five worker deaths in 2019 was in construction. Your lawyer can use such statistics to highlight the risks inherent in construction work.
- Identifying Common Causes and Injuries: Some common causes of accidents include equipment malfunctions, unsafe work practices, and lack of appropriate safety gear. Common injuries range from fractures and burns to spinal injuries and traumatic brain injuries. Your lawyer can use this information to contextualize your accident and the severity of your injuries.
- Navigating Time Limits and Filing Claims: There are specific deadlines within which you must file your workers’ compensation claim. The exact timeframe can vary based on your state’s laws. A construction accident lawyer can guide you in filing your claim timely and correctly.
In conclusion, construction accident lawyers play a pivotal role in navigating the complex terrain of workplace accidents. By understanding OSHA standards, being able to identify common construction hazards and employer responsibilities, and possessing knowledge of accident statistics, they can effectively represent your case. They are well-versed in identifying typical accident causes and injuries, and can guide you through the time-sensitive process of filing a claim. If you’ve experienced a construction site accident, engaging a construction accident lawyer could be a valuable step toward securing the compensation you deserve.
Time Limits for Filing a Construction Accident Claim
Construction workers should be aware that each state in the U.S. has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to filing a construction accident claim. These laws are called “statutes of limitations” and they dictate the timeframe within which a worker can file a claim after an accident. Here is a quick overview of California and some other states:
- California: The statute of limitations in California is two years from the date of the injury. If the injury was not discovered right away, then it is one year from the date the injury was discovered.
- New York: In New York, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim. However, if the claim involves a city, county, or state government agency, you have 90 days to file a formal claim and one year and 90 days to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- Texas: In Texas, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident.
- Florida: In Florida, you have four years from the date of the accident to file a claim. If the claim is against the city, county, or state government, you have three years to file a claim.
Remember that these limitations vary by state, so it’s important to consult with a construction accident lawyer to understand the rules specific to your location. Failure to file within these timeframes may lead to your claim being dismissed, so it’s crucial to act promptly.
Construction Industry Employer Safety Responsibilities
As a construction worker, it’s important for you to know what your employer’s responsibilities are when it comes to ensuring your safety on the job site. These responsibilities are clearly outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency tasked with ensuring safe and healthful working conditions for all workers. Statistics show that employers who violate OSHA regulations are more likely to have accidents on their job sites.
Providing a Safe Environment
Your employer must provide a workplace free from recognized hazards. This includes implementing safety measures such as:
- Maintaining clean and organized work areas to prevent tripping hazards.
- Eliminating potential hazards such as exposed wiring, broken equipment, or dangerous substances.
- Providing adequate lighting and ventilation.
- Ensuring all machinery and equipment are properly maintained and safe to use.
Training and Education
Employers need to provide training to workers about potential dangers in the workplace. Workers who are new to a job are at a higher risk of injury or death so correct safety training and inductions are crucial. This should include:
- Instructions on how to use protective equipment
- Information on what to do in case of an emergency
- Training on safe work practices
- Education about workers’ rights under OSHA
Personal Protective Equipment
It’s the employer’s responsibility to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) at no cost to workers. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Hard hats – Construction workers have a higher risk of traumatic brain injury compared to workers in other industries due to risks such as falls or being stuck by heavy objects.
- Safety glasses or face shields
- Hearing protection
- Safety boots
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover medical expenses and lost wages if a worker is injured on the job. They must also:
- Report all workplace accidents to the insurance company.
- Provide necessary forms and assistance to injured workers making a claim.
- Not retaliate against a worker for reporting an injury or filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Construction Accident Statistics
In an industry as hazardous as construction, accidents can occur more frequently than we’d like to admit. The gravity of these incidents underscores the critical role of construction accident lawyers and the importance of workplace safety measures. Here, we delve into some eye-opening statistics:
- Out of 4,779 worker fatalities in private industry in 2018, 1,008 or 21.1% were in construction.
- 1 in 5 worker deaths in 2019 were in construction.
- Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, accounting for 33.5% of all fatalities.
- Construction workers account for 21% of all workplace fatalities in the US.
- Workers aged 25-34 have the highest rate of fatal injury in the construction industry.
The risk of injury and fatality in the construction industry is alarmingly high. When unfortunate accidents occur, it’s essential to understand your rights and remedies. In such times, a construction accident lawyer can be a significant lifeline.
These professionals specialize in construction law and have a deep understanding of the regulations, standards, and legalities involved. They can help you navigate through the complex process of filing for worker’s compensation, ensuring you receive the maximum benefits you’re entitled to.