Construction jobs can be very dangerous. Most construction jobs involve heavy machinery, working at heights on scaffolding or below ground in trenches, using potentially dangerous tools and equipment. Even while surrounded by all of these hazards, you still have the right to expect that your workplace will be reasonably safe and that you’ll be protected from unnecessary risks and injuries by your employer.
As with most occupations, if you are injured while doing construction work you are probably eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation systems vary from state to state, but they generally have several elements in common:
- Workers’ compensation is generally a “no fault” system for payment of benefits. This means that you do not have to prove that another person or entity was negligent or otherwise caused your injury. You only have to prove that (1) you were injured, and (2) the injury occurred in the course and scope of your employment.
- Each employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. It is through this insurance that benefits resulting from an injury claim are paid.
A workers’ compensation claim typically pays for:
- medical expenses
- lost wages, and
- partial or permanent disability.
The reasoning behind this limitation on the benefits paid in a workers’ compensation claim is that, in exchange for not having to go through expensive litigation to prove that someone else caused your injury, you give up your right to pursue other damages such as pain and suffering.
Civil Liability Lawsuits
In addition to workers’ comp, you may be entitled to bring a claim for damages against other persons or entities. This will depend not only on the particular circumstances of your injury, but also the rules in the state in which you live.
In a typical construction job, you frequently work with other subcontractors or vendors. There are often many other persons on a job site, operating heavy machinery or even driving trucks. Additionally, other persons who aren’t even on the job site also may also play a role in on-the-job injuries. These persons may include architects, engineers, and suppliers. If you are injured due to the negligence of one of those persons, you may have a claim for damages against not only that individual, but also that person’s employer.
These actions take the form of a traditional lawsuit with the same rules and procedures as if you were pursuing a personal injury following a car accident. To prevail in such a lawsuit, you must generally prove all three of the following requirements:
- another person or entity had a duty to act in a reasonable and safe manner in regards to you
- this person or entity failed to perform that duty (i.e., they were negligent), and
- you were injured as a result of that negligence.
Negligence can occur in many situations on a construction site.
- a fall from scaffolding that has been improperly erected
- reckless driving by a truck driver that leads to an accident
- defectively-designed safety equipment, such as a harness, that leads to an injury
- electric shocks from defective equipment
- repetitive motion injuries
- hazardous/toxic chemical leaks or spills due to faulty equipment or decisions, and
- the collapse of a trench due to improperly-built trench barriers.
If you are injured on the job, please call us for a free consultation about your legal rights and possible compensation claims.