Strong Representation for Injuries due to Construction Work

Posted on Friday, February 3rd, 2017 at 2:00 pm    

Construction work is one of the leading cause of workplace accidents and sadly causes of death, too. Many construction accidents leave a worker permanently disabled or needing extensive long-term medical care. Workers who can’t return to their job often need to retrained for jobs that involve much less physical labor. Construction work includes jobs at private residences, commercial buildings, industrial sites, road and bridge repair, and a variety of needs throughout both North Carolina and Virginia

Unlike office work, construction work is often at a temporary site which is a constant state of change because of the work being done. As with all workers comp injuries, there is no need to prove that the company that ran the site, a supervisor, or any other party was responsible or at fault for the employee’s accident. Any employee who is hurt while doing his/her job and suffers injuries that prevent an immediate return to work is entitled to payment for medical bills and 2/3rds of lost wages until a return is possible (with some exceptions).

Types of construction workplace accidents

Construction companies are supposed to comply with local building laws. If they don’t, accidents are much more likely. Even at sites that obey all the rules though, accidents are all too common. Some of the ways construction site accidents occur are:

  • Scaffolding falls and falls from high height. Many employees work on scaffolding that can be 5,10, or a 100 stories high. Others work on ladders and the top floors of buildings that are still being constructed. Falls can cause brain trauma, paralysis, and other serious injuries or death.
  • Slips, trips, and falls. It’s extremely difficult to keep floors, railways, lots and other surfaces clear of debris and spills. Construction sites are often a patchwork of hills, ditches, and holes. Accidents often happen because a construction worker falls on an uneven surface or over a tool that was left on the ground
  • Electrical accidents. These accidents can occur while employees are working with power lines, wiring, and any electrical work in progress.
  • Falling objects. Because upper levels aren’t complete; tools, equipment, lunch pail boxes, building materials, and other objects can fall and hit the worker on the head or body.
  • Crushing injuries. Workers can get stuck between a wall and forklift or pinned down between hard surfaces and work equipment or machinery.
  • Chemical exposure. Workers at construction sites can be exposed to dangerous chemical toxins which may entitle the worker to claim benefits because of an occupational illness.
  • Machinery failure. Any machine such as bulldozer, crane, nail gun, or other work equipment can cause violent injuries that can be deadly, life-threatening or permanent.
  • Vehicle accidents. Trucks are used to bring in and transport the building equipment needed for site construction. Workers who are focusing on their job are at the mercy of the truck drivers who aren’t always careful of their surroundings.
  • Dropping or shifting heavy equipment or supplies. One of the most common forms of injury is simply lifting something heavy suddenly shifts, either due to a co-worker dropping his or her end, or simply losing balance. These types of injuries typically result in back, neck or shoulder injuries.

Fatigue is another cause of construction site workers. Tired workers are easily injured by others and even by their own actions. Other accident causes include fires, explosions, and control of hazardous energy.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, one in five fatalities in the private sector were due to a construction site accident. The top four reasons (other than vehicle accidents) were falls, electrocution, being struck by an object, and being caught-in/between. Those four accident types accounted for over 60 % of construction site deaths in 2014 – over 500 workers.

Types of construction workplace injuries

Workers’ compensation does provide some additional benefits for some injuries such as the need to have a body part amputated. Attorney Joe Miller understands which injuries qualify for additional compensation and the amount of the compensation. He also explains to family members what benefits the family is entitled to if someone tragically dies. In addition to the strong possibility of a family losing a beloved relative, many workers suffer the following types of serious, sometimes permanent, construction site injuries

  • Work machinery accidents can easily cause an employee to lose an arm, leg, hand, foot, finger, or toe – either directly due to the accident or later in a hospital room. These injuries often prevent a worker from doing the same job he/she did before the accident.
  • Burns can be first, second, or third-degree burns. More serious burns often require multiple skin grafts. Even the best surgeries often leave disfiguring scars.
  • Spinal cord injuries. At best, these injuries cause acute or chronic pain. At worst, they can cause either partial or full paralysis which can leave a person a paraplegia or a quadriplegia, and often result in surgery.
  • Broken bones. Fractures typically take months to heal. During this time, the worker can’t do his or her job. Some fractures never heal quite right leaving the worker to cope with the pain and discomfort. Others frequently require external fixation with wires, screws and plates that are permanently implanted, and result in permanent partial disability to that body part.
  • Electrocution can result in a heart attack or thermal burns if there is direct contact with an electric source. Muscle, nerve, and tissue damage can be caused if electrical current passes through the worker’s body.

Other common construction work accidents include eye injuries, injuries to the extremities, and post-traumatic stress disorder

Special considerations

There are a few special considerations, your North Carolina or Virginia worker’s compensation lawyer will need to review if you are hurt at a construction site and want to file for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers generally need to be employees and not independent contractors. Whether you qualify is a decision for the worker’s compensation office to determine. Even if an employer says you are an independent contractor, you may still qualify as an employee.

The key issue is control. What level of control does the employer have over the worker? Does the worker have to report to the worksite at a certain time each day? Are there rules to follow that are set by the boss? Who supplies all the main work equipment? If it’s mostly the bossman, then in all likelihood, no matter what the employer tells you, you are an employee and not a subcontractor.

We see this issue come up again and again in construction cases. Workers compensation insurance can be expensive. So companies get bad advice from someone who says they can just call all their employees subcontractors, even though they are actually employees, and get away with it.

The worst part about that is that the employer will then fail to purchase workers compensation insurance. Then when the employee suffers a severe injury, the employer shrugs and says “oh, well, you know you’re a subcontractor, right?”

Sorry, Mr. Bossman, it does not work that way. The good news is that even in such situations, all may not be lost. If the employer was under another contractor or there was a general, the injured worker should be able to recover under the general contractor’s worker’s comp insurance. Also, in Virginia, assuming the employer had at least 3 employees regularly employed in the business, the injured worker may find relief from the uninsured employer’s fund.

In construction place accidents, the injured worker may have a direct personal injury claim against non-employers such as manufacturers of equipment that was improperly made or designed.

Make the call to an experienced work injury lawyer today

North Carolina and Virginia workers’ compensation attorney Joe Miller has the experience and tenacity that injured workers need. His dedication to detail, understanding of the relevant legal and medical issues, and his ability to argue the facts of your case have led to thousands of satisfied work injury clients. For immediate help and strong advocacy, please call attorney Joe Miller at (888) 694-1671. You can also schedule an appointment through his contact form.