Construction workers know exactly what it is like to do hard work. Those who work in this industry depend on their bodies being in top-notch shape in order to perform at their best.
As such, when someone becomes victim to a construction accident, they can lose much more than the ability to use their body: they lose their livelihood.
Some people think that there is nothing they can do about it and often blame themselves for the accident. This allows the injury to devastate their lives and is a huge mistake.
Any person who is injured in a construction accident has rights that deserve protection. As a victim, he/she should be compensated not only for the injuries, but also for lost wages, inability to work, pain and suffering, and countless other intangibles.
What to Do After a Construction Accident
Anyone who has been injured in a construction accident should do the following:
Get medical attention. No matter how severe the injury, getting medical treatment after an accident is the No. 1 priority. The longer a person waits to see a doctor, the worse an injury can be. Not to mention, waiting too long can reduce one’s odds of winning compensation through a personal injury claim.
Inform supervisors. Management must be informed as soon as possible after getting treatment. Most construction companies have procedures for filing incident reports. Describe how, when, and where the accident happened. Be sure to list all medical issues caused by the accident, even if they seem minor (e.g. bruises and sprains). Don’t exaggerate, but don’t downplay—stick to the facts.
Start a file. The moment one realizes that he/she may need to file a personal injury claim, it is time to start a file of all related documents. This can include photos of the accident site AND of the injuries themselves. It should also contain all related medical records and bills. Keep a record of all communication with one’s insurance provider. The same is true of communication with the employer or other parties.
Get contact info for witnesses. If anyone was around to witness the accident, it is important to have their contact information on file. While not all personal injury claims go to court, having a list of witnesses willing to testify can be critical to winning a case. If necessary, an attorney may ask them to provide sworn testimony.
Talk to an attorney. Have an attorney go over the details of the case to determine the best possible strategy for winning the monetary award one deserves. An attorney will know what facts, evidence, or other details may be necessary to win a settlement, as well as when it makes sense to take a case to trial.
File for worker’s compensation. A person who was injured on the job due to a work injury should file for worker’s compensation. In NJ, a person can file for a formal or informal hearing for worker’s comp. Always speak to an attorney first, so as to get expert advice on the best possible course of action, as well as for help with the paperwork.
Report to OSHA. In many cases, an accident requires reporting with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). More details on how to do that can be found here. As with everything, discuss the matter with an attorney before getting started.
Personal injury claims are complicated matters. It is critical that the facts be presented in the most compelling manner. Having an attorney who can sort through the details and construct the best possible arguments can be the difference-maker in winning compensation or not.
If you have been in a construction accident and think that you have a claim, make sure to contact an experienced construction accident attorney who knows exactly who to sue and how to effectively make a case for negligence.
What Will Health Insurance Cover?
When seeking medical attention, one must disclose that the injury or illness is work-related. Unfortunately, this means one’s health insurance provider is not likely to cover any of the costs. Instead, worker’s compensation benefits are meant to be used to pay such bills.
Unfortunately, most worker compensation payments are not enough, which is one of the reasons many people file a personal injury claim for work-related accidents.
Determining Liability in Work-Related Injury Cases
There are four factors that must be considered in a personal injury case in order to show that an employer, site owner, or other party is liable for a worker’s injury. These are:
- Duty. Did the party have a legal obligation to protect the worker from such accidents?
- Breach. Did the party fail to meet this obligation?
- Causation. Was the aforementioned breach the cause of the injury?
- Damages. Did the injury result in undue suffering, costs, and other hardships?
What Can Be Used to Determine Fault?
Evidence that can be used to determine fault depends on the circumstances of the accident and the injury itself. Physical evidence, including photographs, may be necessary to show that a piece of machinery or a worksite was not kept in a safe condition. Testimony from witnesses can be used to reveal if a boss insisted on skipping or not properly following certain safety procedures.
Each case is different. It may require the help of an attorney to determine what type of evidence will be needed to support the claim.
Types of Injuries Caused by Construction Accidents
Any type of injury that occurs on-site constitutes a construction accident, whether it happens in the course of one’s employment or not. The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples:
- Falling objects that cause injury
- Falling from a scaffold or crane
- Being run over by heavy machinery
- Losing a limb or appendage while working
- Following instructions given by a negligent boss that lead to an injury
- Electrical injuries
- Burn injuries
- Welding injuries
- Injuries while working in trenches
- Slip and falls
Personal Injury Lawsuits vs. Worker’s Compensation
Under New Jersey law, a person is typically not allowed to sue his or her employer for work-related injuries. The purpose of worker’s compensation insurance is to cover the costs associated with injured or sick workers. However, there are situations in which a person can file a personal injury lawsuit and collect workman’s comp.
One is if another party also bears some liability for the illness or injury. This could be the site/property owner, or the manufacturer of the machine, device, item, or object that caused an injury.
Another is if the injury is the result of a deliberate act by the employer. These are extremely rare cases and the evidence of deliberate intent must be substantial.
A person can also sue his/her employer if he/she is fired for applying for worker’s compensation. NJ law expressly forbids an employer from retaliating against sick or injured workers who file claims.
Case Law Analysis
How Much Compensation Will I Be Entitled To?
How much a person can receive following an accident will depend on the severity of the accident, the financial impact, as well as by more abstract factors such as pain and suffering. The amount of fault also factors into it.
New Jersey uses what is called a modified comparative fault model that requires a personal injury payout to be reduced by a percentage amount. This percentage is based on how much at fault the injured party was.
For example, assume a person is deemed to be 25% at fault for a construction accident. A judge awards him $200,000 in damages for the accident. The final amount he will receive is $150,000.
Ultimately, there is no way to know right away how much money a person may be entitled to for a particular accident. Each situation is unique. It is best to consult with a personal injury attorney about one’s specific accident to find out if one has a case and how much it could potentially be worth.
Should I Accept a Settlement?
In many cases, it is wise to accept a settlement in a personal injury lawsuit. The alternative to taking a settlement would be to take the case to trial. Personal injury trials take time, and when a person is in need of financial support due to a lost job, substantial medical bills, and more, it is not always feasible to wait.
When dealing with large companies, keep in mind that they may have substantial experience dealing with personal injury lawsuits. Many will offer settlements to avoid the time and cost of going to trial. However, if the injured party rejects the settlement, a large firm will fight even harder to avoid losing at trial, which can result in the injured party getting nothing.
Still, there are many times when it makes sense to reject a settlement and take the case to trial. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to assess one’s case to determine which is the best course of action.
The Price of Doing Nothing
Some worry that hiring an attorney will cost way too much money. However, most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee. That means if the client doesn’t see a dime, neither does that attorney.
Moreover, the cost of doing nothing can be tremendous. Those who do not take any action at all may not be able to collect anything.
Let’s face it; everyone needs to support a family and loved ones. Aside from being out of work and unable to bring money in, a victim still has a ton of medical bills to pay. Ultimately, both the monetary and emotional cost of doing nothing is simply not worth it.
According to OSHA, one-in-ten construction workers are injured each year in the U.S. This translates to approximately 150,000 construction site accident injuries each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fall hazards are the leading cause of injury at construction sites, followed by equipment-related accidents.
Workers between 25 and 34 years old are the most likely to be injured in a construction site accident.
In New Jersey, the Department of Labor estimates that, for every 100 full-time construction workers, 3.1 reported injuries in 2019. Less than half (1.4 per 100 full-time workers) experienced time off from work as a result of the accident and 0.4 per 100 had to be transferred or have duties restricted following the accident.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Should You Contact?
If you have been injured in a construction-related accident, contact an attorney right away for help. The attorneys of Rosenblum Law are experienced personal injury attorneys licensed to practice in New Jersey and New York. We know what to do in order to help guarantee that your rights are protected. We will fight for you and help you receive every bit of money that you deserve for your injuries. E-mail or call him today at 888-235-9021.