Construction Accident Lawyer
Construction sites are a sign of a bright future and a better tomorrow for the Carolinas, but these sites can also be the location of dangerous and deadly accidents. Construction accidents in the Carolinas occur every year, with some leaving accident victims paralyzed or deceased due to their injuries.
After their construction accident, injury victims may not know where to turn to pay for the costs of medical treatment. Workers’ compensation is not always available, depending on the nature of their employment or the accident. Even when a worker’s comp claim is available, injured workers can pursue a third-party claim against non-employers. Some construction accident cases also involve negligent companies, contractors, and non-employers who could be held liable for the damages caused.
Only a construction accident attorney experienced in these types of cases can fully evaluate who may be determined at fault for your incident and, accordingly, responsible for the financial consequences. By pursuing a personal injury or defective product claims against all potentially liable parties, accident victims have the greatest chance of recovering the compensation they need to resume a normal life.
You can learn more about your available legal options and the potential next best steps to take by speaking with an attorney at Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers. For over 25 years, we have provided clients with an ally and an advisor ready to fight for their case.
Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our construction accident lawyers today to learn more about your options for obtaining compensation. To schedule your free case evaluation, call 855-971-1114 or contact us online.
Who Might Be Liable for Damages After a Construction Accident
Every construction accident case is unique. A personal injury lawyer can examine the circumstances of the injury-causing incident to determine who might be the most appropriate party to pursue for compensation.
An injured worker can often file a third-party liability claim against non-employer parties to obtain compensation for all damages. Innocent bystanders injured on or near a construction site can also look for opportunities to file a third-party claim.
There are many situations where a negligent party may have caused or contributed to the accident that injured you. The property owner where the construction project is taking place may have allowed a dangerous condition to remain, for example, opening up a possible premises liability claim. If a product failure or a lack of safeguards was a contributing factor, injury victims might be able to pursue a defective product claim.
Additionally, other third parties may be involved, such as contract-awarders, contractors, related corporations, and members of the general public. In some of these cases, worker’s compensation may not be enough or may not be applicable. Instead, a general personal injury lawsuit may be filed. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you decide what type of lawsuit best fits your situation.
Injured construction workers can usually seek a workers’ compensation claim from their employer’s insurance, provided that their injuries occurred during the scope of their job. This arrangement prevents employees from filing personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits directly against their employers under most circumstances. However, worker’s compensation insurance may not provide all of the forms of damages needed to recover all your losses from your accident.
Pursuing compensation from all available avenues allows construction accident attorneys to maximize their clients’ chances of obtaining the finances they need.
Frequency of Construction Accidents in the Carolinas and the U.S.
Construction is a dangerous industry. It may be the most dangerous industry in the U.S.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that in 2017, the domestic construction industry experienced 971 deaths. More granular data shows that the industry also had over 3.4 million injury cases at a rate of 3.1 per every 100 workers.
State-specific data reveals that North Carolina experienced 3,600 construction industry injuries in 2017, while South Carolina saw 2,100.
OSHA reports that the majority of deadly incidents in the construction industry related to the “fatal four” types of accidents:
- Falls: Falls from platforms, machinery, and structures accounted for 39% of all industry deaths in 2017.
- Struck by object: 8% of all fatal injury cases include being struck by transported materials, machinery in operation, dropped tools, falling debris, and other objects.
- Electrocutions: 7% of deaths involve contact with live currents directly at their source or transferred through materials like metal or water.
- Caught-in/between: 5% of fatal incidents involved structural collapses, getting trapped between objects, being struck by a vehicle, caught in machinery, etc.
Why You May Need More Than Worker’s Comp and How a Construction Accident Lawyer Can Help
Worker’s compensation policies tend to be strict in how they cover injuries, where you can receive treatment, and the maximum amount of lost wages you can claim while you recover. Seeking a workers’ comp claim as appropriate to your injury circumstances is almost always a good idea, but injury victims must often look elsewhere to cover all their resulting damages.
If you need additional sources of compensation to repay all damages, your construction accident attorney can help you pursue all available legal avenues. Larger companies, such as construction contract purchasers or commercial property owners, tend to have more resources available for compensating accident victims than the average workers’ comp policy.
If the injury victim’s incident was caused by negligence or a defective product, looking to these types of claims can increase the chances of fully recovering all available damages — as opposed to being left in debt by injuries that were no fault of your own.
What Should You Do After an Injury on a Job Site?
First, you should seek medical attention for your injuries and hang onto any medical bills you receive. If you can think somewhat clearly after your accident, try to document what happened. Take pictures of the area where the incident occurred, any equipment involved, and your injuries. Write down the events while they’re still fresh in your mind, and make a note of people who were potential witnesses.
After you see a healthcare provider, report the accident to your supervisor. You will probably need to fill out some forms for an accident report. Be sure to make or ask for copies for your records. If someone else was filling out the form while asking you questions, read the final report very carefully and speak up about any inaccuracies you notice before signing anything. Even a minor discrepancy could be important later and should be corrected.
If an insurance carrier calls you for a statement about the accident, remember that you don’t have to talk to them right away. We recommend consulting a construction accident attorney before giving any statements to an insurance company rep. Insurers look for any and every excuse to deny a claim. Often with worker’s comp claims, the excuse is that your injury wasn’t caused by the accident. The insurance adjuster may pick apart everything you say until they find a statement they can use to support that narrative, no matter how weak the connection. But you can let the insurance company’s calls go to voice mail until you have a chance to seek legal representation. If they get you on the phone, it’s fine to say that now isn’t a good time to talk and you’ll get back to them later.
What If You Were Injured on a Construction Site as a Contractor?
This is a common concern because many people who work in construction are contractors rather than employees. What is the difference?
- A contractor is self-employed and usually works on a per-project basis. In the construction industry, for example, the project may be building a new office or residential dwelling or performing renovations on an existing structure. Contractors typically have a contract spelling out what they will do and by when but have few restrictions on how they do the work. They usually set their own schedule so long as the work gets done by the project owner’s deadline. When the project is finished, their relationship with the client is concluded. Contractors often have multiple clients, and their services are usually available to the public.
- An employee, on the other hand, usually works for one entity, the employer. They have an ongoing relationship with the employer and are expected to keep doing their job indefinitely unless they quit or are terminated. The employer typically has a lot of say in how and when the employee does their job – for example, a job description might say that you’ll work in the office between 9 and 5 using methods the employer trains you on. The employee receives employment benefits like health insurance and paid days off. The employer is also obligated to withhold taxes from the employee’s paycheck.
Because they are not employees, contractors cannot file a worker’s compensation claim when injured. However, they can still pursue a civil claim against any liable parties for their damages.
There are some situations where the question of “employee or contractor?” becomes complicated. For example, let’s say that Dan owns a paper company and needs a new office building constructed. He owns the property it’s going to go on and contracts to Tom and Jane’s construction company for the building work. He also contracts with Amy’s local architectural firm to design the building. The architectural firm and the construction company are contractors for the paper company. But the people working for the architectural firm and construction company may be either. Both businesses may have employees but also contractors. For example, Tom and Jane may have a secretary, a business manager, and a site foreperson on staff as employees. But for an individual project like Dan’s new building, they may subcontract some of the work, like plumbing and electrical, to other individuals or businesses. They may also use independent contractors for their labor needs when constructing the building. These workers will also have a contract for a specific project, after which their work with the company is completed.
Another issue arises if the injured worker was misclassified as a contractor when they are actually an employee. Many businesses misclassify employees as contractors as it saves them money on benefits. Sometimes we’ll have a client come in with an injury, concerned that they can’t file for worker’s compensation due to their contractor status. But after talking to the client about their work, we may discover they are doing the work of an employee. If this is the case, they are not only eligible for a worker’s comp claim but also may be owed back pay in benefits.
Should You File a Worker’s Comp Claim?
This is a good option for many workers. It allows you to pay your medical bills and receive about two-thirds of your normal pay when you are out of work (with some restrictions). However, it may not cover all your damages, especially if you were severely injured and have permanent pain or disability. Some people prefer to file a worker’s comp claim anyway because it allows them to recover at least some of their damages without a lengthy and stressful trial where they have to prove fault. However, others would rather file a suit seeking compensation for all their damages, which can include non-economic costs not figured in worker’s comp claims, such as pain and suffering. Every situation is different, and only you can determine the best path for you to seek compensation. But a construction accident lawyer can explain your options, answer your questions, and help you execute whatever plan you make.
The accident and injury lawyers at Auger & Auger want to provide a knowledgeable construction accident lawyer to serve as an ally and an advisor in our injured clients’ time of need.
If you have been hurt by a construction accident, either as an employee or a bystander, then speak to an attorney for free to learn what your next best actions to take might be. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 855-971-1114 or using our convenient form to contact us online.