Accidents on construction sites are more common than you would think. Almost half of the most dangerous jobs in America are in the construction field. Many companies are on the job daily, from electricians and carpenters to tile workers, utility services, and big equipment operators. Each crew performs a different function for a particular subcontractor, who formally reports to and is under contract with the General Contractor (whose license is ultimately at stake).
The bottom line is that it can get very complicated – but with Auger & Auger’s team, you get the advantage of our 50 years of combined experience as a Charleston construction accident attorney practice. If you or a co-worker has been injured on the job, you most likely have a workers’ compensation claim, which is the exclusive remedy when injured on the job through your own fault, a co-employee, or your employer. However, you may also have a “third party claim” if you were injured through the fault or negligence of another person, company, or party that is not part of your company. This is quite common on construction sites, with all the different subcontractors working close to each other simultaneously.
The last thing any company wants to deal with on a liability claim is negligence, so for the most part, great attention is paid to ensuring the site condition is maintained. That said, there’s plenty more to deal with, from mechanical big equipment malfunctions and falls from upper floors to the strict regimen of OSHA requirements and supervision of all the workers on site. A superintendent cannot be in all places at all times, and mistakes can happen in an instant which cause permanent disability or fatality.
Investigations may include verifying everything from building licenses and permits to certifications of specific employees working at the property. Documentation is key and should be performed as quickly as possible, even if it is a workers’ compensation case, but especially for a 3rd party case. This may involve interviewing witnesses to the injury, taking photographs of the scene, recording weather conditions and work environment, certifying worker qualifications for the job undertaken, the proximity of a supervisor, etc.
The following includes several areas of OSHA’s most frequently cited standards in construction:
First, you should report your injury to a supervisor as soon as possible. Even if you’ve reported the incident verbally, you should also take pictures of the injury and attach them to an email explaining how the injury happened. This will create an electronic paper trail proving that you reported the injury should there be any confusion later.
Second, see a doctor about your injuries, even if you think you’ll be all right. But, don’t go to your own doctor. South Carolina’s workers’ comp statutes say your employer has the right to choose your doctor. Often this is tied in with the insurance company they use for workers’ compensation. Speak with the HR department – in most cases, they will have a list of approved doctors available. (Note that in some situations, your injuries may constitute an emergency, and you can’t wait until someone finds the list and calls all the doctors on it to locate one with an opening. If it’s a genuine emergency, you can just go to the emergency room and see whatever doctor is available.)
Next, you must file a workers’ compensation claim using Form-50 from the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. If your employer says they already filed one, ask for a copy for your records, then go over it and make sure the information is accurate.
Sometimes this may be where things get difficult. Employers aren’t always enthusiastic about employees using their workers’ comp insurance, even though it provides a no-fault solution to many workplace injuries. The problem is that when the insurance company pays out a claim, they may be inclined to raise rates, especially if the accident happened in a way that seems neglectful. The insurance carrier won’t refuse to pay the claim based on fault (with a few exceptions we’ll talk about later), but they might decide the company is a bad risk, leading to higher premiums.
So your boss may want to talk you out of filing a claim. They may say that your injuries are minor and you’ll be fine. If that doesn’t work, sometimes they even suggest that workers’ comp claims are bad for business and may result in having to let some people go. These kinds of thinly-veiled threats sometimes stop employees from making a claim when they have a valid injury. If your boss is pressuring you to “forget about” your work accident and filing a claim, call a construction accident attorney right away. Retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim – such as firing the employee, cutting their hours, or creating a hostile workplace – is illegal, and your lawyer can advise you on what to look out for. They can also assist you with filing your claim anyway.
No one wants to hear that their claim has been denied, but sometimes it happens. Just because workers’ comp is “no-fault” insurance, doesn’t mean it’s “no denial” coverage. Here are some potential reasons the insurance carrier may give for denying your claim:
This is another situation that may complicate your claim. As we discussed earlier, many construction workers are independent contractors and therefore are not eligible for workers’ compensation. However, misclassification of employees as contractors is very common in the industry. Additionally, some contractors engage sub-contractors, and in certain situations, may insure the sub-contractors.
If you’re a contractor injured on a construction site, please contact us immediately for a free review of your case. There may be several options for pursuing compensation for your injuries. We’ll ask you some questions about your work, and if we believe you’ve been misclassified, we will take it up with the company for you. Should your misclassification case be successful, you would not only be entitled to your workers’ comp benefits but also other back benefits like health insurance or vacation time.
Here at Auger & Auger, we understand the financial pressures that a work injury can put on you and your family. Accordingly, we offer you a free consultation with a construction accident attorney, not an assistant or paralegal. And we don’t hesitate to take your case without a retainer; in fact, we offer a Zero-Fee Guarantee, and you don’t pay a legal fee unless when win your case.
You have enough to worry about, what with medical appointments, healing, stress over job loss, and how soon you’ll be able to work again. Let us handle your case so you can stay informed without doing all the work.
Call (843) 751-4690 today for your free consultation, with no fees due until recovery!