Charlotte Construction Site Accident Attorney
Accidents on construction sites are far too common. These accidents could end a career or even end a life. There are different options for injured workers or surviving family members to recover compensation after an accident occurs on a construction site. Auger & Auger Personal Injury Lawyers can help you understand your options and determine your best course of action if you or someone you love is a victim of a workplace accident.
Your Rights After a Construction Accident in Charlotte
In addition to a workers’ compensation claim, an employee injured at a construction site may be entitled to a claim for pain and suffering against the contractor or subcontractor’s insurance carrier that caused the accident and injury. This is called a third-party claim.
Most workers know that workers’ compensation benefits are provided through an employer’s insurer after an injury. These benefits protect injured workers from losses due to accidents, regardless of who was at fault or whether anyone was to blame for causing the injuries. Workers’ comp pays for the costs of medical treatment and provides temporary or permanent disability benefits for both full and partial disabling conditions.
While workers’ comp benefits ensure a safety net, so an injury does not destroy your financial stability, the benefits through workers’ comp programs are limited. You don’t receive any money for your pain and suffering due to your work injury, and family members are not compensated for the loss of companionship that goes along with a workplace death. You also receive only partial wage replacement.
A personal injury or wrongful death claim can provide broader benefits and much more significant compensation for individuals and families when an on-site incident occurs. While a lawsuit cannot be filed against an employer, there are many others who can be held responsible for a workplace injury and sued. An attorney at Auger & Auger can help workers or their family members determine if they can make a claim.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Attorneys at Auger & Auger have more than 50 years of combined experience providing representation to people who get hurt on job sites. We can represent you after construction injuries sustained due to:
- A fall on the same level, such as if you trip due to debris in the worksite
- Falling objects
- Falls from scaffolding or other elevations
- Crushing injuries from machinery or equipment or due to trench collapses
- Electrical injuries and burns
- Becoming trapped in machinery
When these and other injuries occur, it is important to determine if a third party is to blame. This may include a non-employer project manager, a product manufacturer, the driver of equipment or machinery, or a host of other individuals or companies. If anyone besides your employer was negligent or breached a legal duty and caused your accident, you can file a civil lawsuit.
When Worker’s Comp Isn’t an Option
Sometimes clients come to us after a worksite accident because they’ve been told they can’t file a worker’s comp claim due to being a contractor. Many people who work in and around the construction industry are contractors, including construction workers, plumbers, electricians, and other job positions. Contractors work for themselves for a variety of clients, while an employee typically works for one company (although the company may assign them to do work for multiple clients). Generally, the employer controls how an employee does their job, telling them what hours and where to work, supervising them, etc. A contractor usually requires little to no supervision and does the job the way they see fit, so long as it’s completed on time and to the client’s satisfaction.
Making these distinctions is crucial because you can’t file a worker’s comp claim as an independent contractor if you’re hurt on a job site. However, you can still sue a responsible party. Depending on the situation, you may have a claim against the site owner, another company or contractor doing contract work at the site, a manufacturer of faulty equipment, etc. Many of these parties may have liability insurance we can make a claim on, or we can sue the party directly. In some cases, it takes a little time to sort out the liable parties, but once we do, we can outline your options for pursuing compensation.
We also usually ask the client questions to ensure that they really are acting as a contractor. In some situations, a business may misclassify workers as independent contractors when they are actually fulfilling the role of employees. This can save the company a lot of money on benefits, worker’s comp insurance, etc. Unfortunately, these savings come at the worker’s expense. If we determine that you were actually misclassified as a contractor, you may be eligible to make a worker’s compensation claim, as well as ask for back pay on the benefits you would have been entitled to as an employee.
What Causes Construction Site Accidents?
Construction accidents occur due to many factors, but here are some common issues that put construction workers at risk:
- Failing to provide fall protection for workers on higher surfaces, like roofs or scaffolds. This could mean guardrails, safety nets, or a personal fall arrest system. Elevator shafts and holes in the floor or walls should be properly marked and blocked off. Unfortunately, falling is one of the most common injury situations in construction site accidents.
- On the other side of the coin, people working on the ground level need protection from falling objects that may come from above. Safety nets or covered walkways can help prevent dropped objects from reaching the ground. Signs and fences should be erected to keep people out of areas where work is being done. Additionally, all workers should wear hard hats to provide protection in the event that an object does fall and hits their head.
- Trip and fall hazards. Anything left lying around a worksite can lead to a worker tripping and suffering injuries, such as loose tiles, debris, insulation, hoses, garbage bags, etc. Slick surfaces can also pose a threat. Site managers should ensure all tools, trash, and other objects are removed in a timely manner, and that spills or puddles are promptly cleaned up. If the area can’t be dried, “wet floor” signs should be used to warn people of the hazard.
- Problems with power tools. Sometimes the issue is a missing guard or another protective device on the tool. In general, any time a power tool will be out of use for more than a minute or two, it should be turned off and unplugged. This reduces the risk that it will accidentally get turned on and injure someone if it’s bumped or jostled. Power tools should also be inspected regularly to make sure they don’t need maintenance or replacement. For example, if the cord is damaged, the power tool could become an electrocution hazard. However, in some situations, the tool itself may be defective when new, and the issue may be with the manufacturer.
- Other equipment failures. These can happen due to poor maintenance, failure to follow safe practices for the equipment, or a manufacturer defect.
- Failure to observe safety protocols around power lines or other situations with live wires.
- Ignoring any safety protocols. For example, if a worker decides they can skip looking behind them before backing up a forklift “just this once,” they could inadvertently run over a coworker they didn’t know was there. For this reason, site managers need to be firm about the necessity of always following safety rules.
- Failing to provide protective equipment and measures for people working in trenches. Workers should have hard hats, and the trench should be reinforced on all sides with metal plates to prevent a collapse.
- Design flaws can create unsafe situations in various ways, depending on the specific issue.
- Lack of proper training or supervision. Sometimes workers are asked to do things outside of their areas of expertise without help from someone experienced in that area, which puts them in danger. Site managers should ensure everyone is up-to-date on their industry certifications.
- Any other unsafe situation on the property. This can be anything from a vicious dog to an unmarked sinkhole or sudden dip in the ground.
Being aware of the many ways that injuries occur on construction sites is just one way to protect yourself from accidents and prevent harm.
Types of Injuries in Construction Site Accidents
Unfortunately, a wide variety of injuries can happen on construction sites. Here are some common reasons cited for worker’s comp and other injury claims:
- Broken bones. These can be painful and take months to heal properly, leaving the victim unable to work.
- Back and spinal cord injuries. In some cases, back injuries leave the victim with chronic pain that is difficult to manage. They may need continuing physical therapy, while their health insurance only pays for so many sessions a year. If the spinal cord is severed or damaged, the victim may lose the ability to walk and become permanently disabled.
- When these are severe, they may cause permanent scarring.
- Illnesses resulting from chemical or toxic materials exposure. These can happen due to improper storage of chemicals needed on the worksite or a lack of protective gear like goggles and masks. Site managers working on renovating older properties also need to think about toxic materials that are no longer used but may already be in the building, such as asbestos.
- Head, neck, and brain injuries. These are common with falls or dropped object situations. A blow to the head can lead to a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Some people make a full recovery, while others may continue to struggle with pain or neurological symptoms even months later.
- Eye or vision injuries. Sometimes these coincide with head injuries, but they can also occur due to small particles or toxic chemicals getting into the eyes. The latter scenario usually happens due to a lack of appropriate eye protection. Site managers should make sure that eye protection is available on site and that workers always use it in the appropriate situations.
Potential Damages in Construction Site Accidents
If you’re filing a worker’s compensation claim, you can ask for two things:
- Your medical costs to be paid
- Compensation for missed time at work
Unfortunately, lost wage compensation is only paid at about two-thirds of your normal rate of pay. Many people find this problematic, especially if they are out of work for weeks or months at a time. If this is the case, we will ask you questions about the accident to help determine if you have grounds for a third-party claim to help recoup the rest of your damages.
If you are a contractor and exempt from the worker’s comp system, or if you have grounds for a lawsuit against a third party, there are more damages you can ask for:
- Current and future medical costs, including any treatment that wasn’t covered by your worker’s comp claim.
- Lost wages, including any amounts not covered by worker’s comp. If you have become permanently disabled and will not be able to return to work, you can seek compensation for lost earning potential.
- Pain and suffering. This can refer to both yourAuger & Auge physical injuries and any mental health difficulties arising from the physical injuries or the trauma of the accident. It’s common for people injured at work to feel depressed, anxious, or have symptoms of PTSD, and you should not hesitate to get help from a mental health expert.
- Property damage. If any of your personal property, like a laptop or phone, becomes damaged due to an onsite accident, you can seek compensation.
- Loss of consortium or companionship, in the event that a loved one died in a construction accident.
Contact a Charlotte Construction Site Accident Lawyer Today
You need a knowledgeable attorney on your side to help you get the compensation you need after a construction site injury or death. Auger & Auger Personal Injury Lawyers are here to help. We have more than 50 years of collective experience representing clients after construction site accidents, and we will put our knowledge to work on your case. Call (855) 969-5671 today for a free consultation to learn more.