Two serious accidents occurred at construction projects at McDowell County schools this summer. On August 12, scaffolding at a construction site at McDowell High School collapsed, causing more than a dozen workers to fall up to 35 – 40 feet. According to news reports, eight workers were taken to the hospital, with two of them being airlifted. Just over three weeks later, a fatal accident occurred at a construction site at the West McDowell Junior High School. On September 3, a worker was tragically killed when a dump truck backed over him. Officials are investigating both accidents.
These two accidents happened at different locations and involved different employers, but together they highlight the dangers faced by construction workers performing a variety of duties. Construction safety has become a focus of both federal and state workplace safety programs. The Occupational Health and Safety Division of the North Carolina Department of Labor established a construction special emphasis program to decrease construction industry fatalities. This program resulted in 1,812 inspections during the 2011 fiscal year, with citations for 2,251 serious, willful and repeat violations. While significant improvements have been made in workplace safety, federal OSHA statistics show that there were still 738 construction fatalities in the United States during the 2011 calendar year.
An employee who is injured in an on-the-job accident arising from his or her employment in North Carolina may be entitled to North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits. Additionally, the family of an employee who dies as a result of a workplace accident or injury may be entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits are not dependent upon fault. An employee or his or her family may be entitled to benefits even if the employer was not negligent and did not commit any safety violations. An employee may even be entitled to benefits when the accident was his or her fault.
The laws and requirements related to North Carolina workers’ compensation claims are complex. For example, an employee must give written notice of the accident to the employer and file a claim with the Industrial Commission. Written notice is to be given to the employer “immediately” or “as soon thereafter as practicable” within 30 days of the accident. N.C.G.S. §97-22. An employee has two years from the date of the accident to file the claim form with the Industrial Commission. Failure to timely provide notice or file the claim could potentially bar an otherwise legitimate workers’ compensation claim.
It is important to remember that the employer and the employer’s insurance company do not represent the employee’s interests and may have interests adverse to those of the employee. The employer may not know or provide important information that could affect the employee’s rights. The injured employee should have someone who understands North Carolina workers’ compensation laws representing his or her interests.
If you were injured or a loved one was killed in an on-the-job accident, you should seek the advice of a skilled North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney. The attorneys at Auger & Auger have experience fighting for injured workers. Call (800) 559-5741 today to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney at Auger & Auger.
Related Blog Posts: