Construction jobs can be very dangerous. Most construction jobs involve heavy machinery, working at heights on scaffolding or below ground in trenches. In addition, construction workers use potentially dangerous tools and equipment. Even while surrounded by all of these hazards, you still have the right to expect a safe workplace. Your employer should protect you from unnecessary risks and injuries.
As with most occupations, if you are injured while doing construction work you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation systems vary from state to state, but there are common elements:
- 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 you were injured, and the injury occurred in the course and scope of your employment.
- The state requires each employer carry workers’ compensation. 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. In addition, other persons who aren’t even on the job site also play a role in on-the-job injuries. For instance, architects, engineers, and suppliers may influence construction site safety. Consequently, if one of those persons is negligent and cause injury, you may have a claim. Furthermore, 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
- defective safety equipment, such as a harness, that leads to an injury
- electric shocks from defective equipment
- repetitive motion injuries
- hazardous or toxic chemical leaks or spills due to faulty equipment or decisions
- the collapse of a trench due to poorly built trench barriers.