Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Construction Injury Lawyer
Have you ever been in an accident at a construction site?
I’m sure you know the risks of working in a construction site. Ask anyone who got into an accident during construction and they will tell you how many issues they encountered.
Besides the injuries sustained in a construction accident, the medical bills can pile up quickly along with financial constraints. Construction injuries like falls from rooftops, ladders, scaffolding, and elevated work platforms are not to be taken lightly.
Tragic accidents force you to take time off and possibly spend weeks in the hospital. You need money to pay bills and take care of your family.
While it’s true to say that accidents are unforeseen occurrences out of our control, we can always control the aftermath. It does not matter whether you slipped and bruised, fell or suffered a crush injury at work; you need to think about hiring a construction injury lawyer to represent you while you’re recovering.
So how do you find a professional construction injury lawyer?
This guide will give you a bird’s eye view of everything you need to know about construction accidents and how to get the right lawyer that will work hard for you to be compensated for the injury you sustained that was not your fault.
Why would you need to hire a construction injury lawyer?
While there is sophistication in the realm of personal injury, from basic incidents to complicated accidents, construction accidents tend to be more complicated depending on the people involved.
Construction accidents with injuries can be massively complicated for everyone involved.
A construction site can have the main contractor overseeing all the operations, several sub-contractors working in different departments of the construction, third parties that supply equipment and building material, and even the owner of the project under construction.
All of these entities have contracts with insurances that are specifically going to entangle you, delay your compensation, and ultimately result in unfair compensation if you are not well informed on the legalities of being compensated.
Remember that insurance companies will always work in their client’s favor – not in your favor as the injured victim. With all of these contracts and insurance policies in play, you’ll need to seek a lawyer that has a lot of experience in these types of situations.
What a good lawyer can do to help you
An experienced lawyer will carefully untangle all of the interplays, between all of these contractors, owners, and at fault parties. There are so many documents to review to make sure you preserve all of your rights.
Now that you know how complicated it can get when seeking your compensation, let’s have a look at the legal options and rights for all workers who have been injured in a construction site.
Rights and Legal Options of an Injured Construction Worker
All laws vary by state and apply differently to injured persons but there are three main legal options for every injured construction worker.
- A personal injury lawsuit
- A product liability lawsuit
- A workers’ compensation claim
Most certainly one of these laws will apply in your situation in case you’re injured in a workplace.
Let’s look at each of the legal options separately.
Worker’s Compensation Claim
A worker’s compensation claim is a legal agreement between a construction worker and an employee that rules that when an employee is injured at work, he or she is entitled to payment for losses caused. These losses are usually paid by an insurance coverage that employers are required to have.
A worker’s compensation claim is easy to get. However, the compensated amount is always less than that available in a personal injury lawsuit. The worker’s compensation claim is an exclusive remedy that a worker can’t opt out and it applies in most injury cases.
Workers compensation law is specialized. Here at Smiley Law Firm, we do not handle workers compensation claims. We work with other law firms who only handle workers compensation claims. This is intentional.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
A personal injury lawsuit is different than a workers compensation claim.
Remember that a workers compensation claim is an agreement between an employee and an employer. For you to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, there are a couple of things that come into play. As you well know, a construction project is composed of many entities such as the general contractor, engineers, an architect, material suppliers and multiple subcontractors.
For you to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you have to step away from the workers compensation system. You’ll then have to prove that an entity other than your direct or statutory employer is fully or partially responsible for the occurrence that led to your injury.
For you to win a personal injury lawsuit for injury and losses suffered in a construction, you need to prove these three elements:
- The defendant had an obligation to provide your safety
- The defendant did not meet your safety requirements
- The defendant’s action or lack of action led to your injury
Any entity or person that is involved in decision making in a construction site is required by the law to provide worker safety. So, if an engineer regularly instructs and directs workers on the site to carry out some tasks, he or she is liable for unsafe surroundings.
A defendant’s failure to provide safety for a worker amounts to negligence. If an entity fails to honor the OSHA regulations or other industry safety standards, they will be generally considered to have breached the duty of care.
A breach can be an action or an omission. For example, a defendant is deemed liable for the action of providing faulty work equipment. A defendant can also be liable for the omission of failing to offer proper training regarding safe electrical installation practices.
Product Liability Lawsuits
Sometimes a worker might be injured by defective equipment or a construction material in the workplace. In this situation; the manufacturer, the seller, or designer of the equipment are liable for the worker’s injuries.
For you to win a product liability lawsuit, you need to prove that the equipment:
- Was unreasonably dangerous when it left the defendant’s control
- Was being used in a predictable manner at the time of injury, and
- Had a defect that caused harm to you.
Let’s look at some scenarios for you to have a better understanding.
Designers, sellers, and manufacturers have a tendency of escaping liability when their equipment is used improperly or modified.
For example, a worker hacks the circuit of an electric chainsaw in-order to increase its power to do more work but then the machine explodes due to being overworked and ends up electrocuting the worker.
The worker will not be able to sue the seller or the manufacturer because the equipment was obviously going to the short circuit because the worker tempered with its normal working parameters.
Just as we talked about the damages that apply to personal injury cases, the same cases apply to product liability cases.
Damages can be massive for construction injuries. If a crane drops its load or an excavator capsizes then everything in the way of this dangerous event will be damaged.
If a seller, manufacturer or a designer sells equipment that has an unreasonably dangerous defect, they are liable for any injuries that result in its use.
The law does not require the defendant to have known of the defect or that the defendant did anything to create or cause the defect. As long the product left the defendant’s premises with defects, the defendant will be liable for any damages caused.
For example, due to unavoidable circumstances, a production unit in a manufacturer’s production site fails to detect a defect in a chainsaw. The manufacturer then sells the chainsaw to a construction site. While an employee in the construction site is using the chainsaw, it electrocutes him and causes severe burns.
Even though the manufacturing company did not act negligent, the worker is entitled to compensation by the manufacturer for the damages caused. As long as the electric chainsaw left the manufacturer’s site with defects, the manufacturer has no choice but to compensate the injured worker.
How can a Lawyer help you Win these injury Cases?
As you can see, there are so many people and companies that come into play when you get an accident during construction. From general contractors to subcontractors, contract workers, equipment manufacturers, your fellow workers and the companies doing the supply of equipment and heavy machinery, it can be quite a hustle to sue the right people.
This is where the help of a construction injury lawyer is invaluable.
Common Construction Injuries
There are so many risks that a worker faces when at work. The Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has pointed out some of the top risks that cause injuries on construction sites. They include:
- Trench Collapses – it is highly likely that air supply will be cut off when a trench collapses. A worker can also be buried alive and/or suffer fatal injuries.
- Falling From Heights – a worker may fall from a machine, scaffolding or from a building to the ground below. Workers can also fall into ditches and holes on the construction sites.
- Electric Shock and/or arc flash – working with electrical wiring, generators, power tools, and electrical machines pose a risk to construction workers.
- Collapsed scaffolding – OSHA has very strict rules to ensure that scaffoldings are safe and stable. However, accidents can occur and cause serious injuries or even lead to death.
- Repetitive Motion Injuries – The human body is not made to be overworked. The muscles and the soft tissues of the body can be worn out when the body is subjected under the same repetitive tasks again and again for long hours limiting mobility and causing a lot of pain that can easily lead to a chronic problem. (Yes, this is an injury that you can sue the construction project for overworking you)
Additionally, a worker can also be hurt as a result of traffic accidents, malfunctioning tools, ladder collapses, accidents made with tools and errors made by fellow workers.
How to prevent accidents in construction sites
These are some ways that you can prevent accidents on a construction site.
- Hold safety meetings with every worker on the site
- As an employer or entity with authority roles provide safety tips and training for your workers
- Ensure that you use protective gear at all times
- Maintain all the tools and equipment
- Always keep your workspace clean and tidy
- Recognize all the hazards and make a plan to interact with them carefully
- Use equipment as instructed
- Follow all the guidelines as outlined by OSHA and report any unsafe working condition
What to do in case of an accident
- Photos – When an accident occurs and you are in a position to get up and reach your phone, I recommend you take photos of the whole scenario.
- Videos – If possible a video is better but photos will do just fine. If you can’t move, kindly tell a fellow employee to take photos for you. These photos will come in handy in the pursuit of your compensation. Look around to see if there are any witnesses and cameras too.
- Notify Authorities – let your superiors know about the accident so an accident report can be filed.
- Seek Medical Help – you should do is seek medical help. Call a doctor or 911 so that you can document the injuries by a trained medical professional.
- File A Report – Once you have been given fast aid, file a report with your employer. It’s a requirement from the government. Ensure that you capture all the details. Also, if the injury is serious enough, then report it to local authorities and get a police report to back up the incident.
- Call A Lawyer – The next thing to do is call a construction injury lawyer to help you fill all the necessary accident forms and start working on the case to help you be compensated.
- Injury Journal – Now that you’re done with much of the reporting, get a pen and a paper and journal everything that occurred. If possible, use your phone’s recorder and record audio of everything that happened while you still have the details fresh in mind.
- Review and Revise – The last thing to do is request and review all the reports. Request all the parties involved to give you a copy of the report from your employer and correct any inaccuracies in the report. If anything is incorrect, then insist on making changes right away.
What to do next?
When all the reporting is done, your employer will likely help you to fill a worker’s compensation claim if it’s available. This claim will help you in settling your medical bills and some financial recovery for loss of income and the associated cost of restoring your health.
If it’s not available, you have a non-subscriber or individual rights against the employer. The only to make it through this kind of situations is by having a lawyer who knows the law to the core and has enough experience in these situations to help you get through.
In case of a safety violation, your lawyer will start an investigation. Most of the times, the results will show that your employer, a third party, or a fellow worker caused the accident or were negligent of the accident.
Remember that the worker’s compensation claim holds your right to seek recovery and compensation; your experienced construction injury lawyer will help you to pursue the case until you are finally compensated if misconduct is proven against your employer.
Filing A Lawsuit To Protect Your Rights
Additionally, a tort or personal injury claim can also be filed against any third parties involved. This could be other entities involved in the construction site. The process of filing a case against an entity in the construction project whose actions directly or indirectly resulted in an accident that caused injury to you is known as a tort.
For you to proceed with tort litigation, you need to hire an experienced lawyer to take care of the filing process. If the tort (a civil wrong that a person or entity caused another person to suffer loss or harm) is proven, you’ll be compensated for all the losses you have suffered. Construction workers that work with the right lawyers win these cases all the time.
Some employers are very smart and know the severity of construction injuries and how far they can go. These employers will send a lawyer or an insurance adjuster to try to cut a deal with you.
These company lawyers are not your friend! They are there to protect your employer from paying the whole amount. These deals are made of little compensations to nothing compared to what you’re supposed to be paid.
Normally, you are expected to cooperate with them by the law. Ensure that you have a professional construction injury lawyer right by your side every time you’re dealing with these company lawyers.
Your lawyer will take care of you and protect your interests so that you can be fully compensated. It’s very hard for a company lawyer to take advantage of you when you have a lawyer by your side.
What to look for before hiring a construction injury lawyer
You need to do your research. Look for a firm and ensure that they have experience and a track record of success. Ensure that the firm has been around long enough to understand your case. Here are some helpful questions to ask an attorney that you interview to take your case:
If you’re injured and the case involves third parties and multiple entities, can they handle it?
Have they resolved similar cases?
If so, how many cases have they taken?
These questions will help you get your ideal lawyer. An experienced lawyer with a proven track record is the difference between full compensation and a fraction of the compensation.
At Smiley Law Firm we have a unique experience that has helped us get great results for injury victims on construction projects. Call us today and give us a chance to fight for your rights.
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