Boston Construction Accident Lawyer
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Boston, MA 02108
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Finkelstein & Partners, LLP – Winning Serious Injury Lawsuits Since 1959
Despite pandemic-related shutdowns, Boston’s construction market continued to grow in 2020, with growth expected to continue for the next several years. Construction is an important part of both our economy and the viability of our city. The construction industry provides jobs for about 14,000 people, according to the city’s Redevelopment Authority.
What happens if you are injured while working on a construction site? Should you seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit or a workers’ compensation claim? An experienced Boston construction accident lawyer at Finkelstein & Partners can answer these questions and more in a free case evaluation.
While we can’t promise anything about the outcome of your case, we work hard for our clients and are pleased with the results we have obtained over the past 60 years.
Some of our recent wins include:
- A $28.3 million settlement for a roofing subcontractor who fell 18 feet and suffered a badly broken heel bone.
- A $3.77 million verdict for a construction worker who fell off a roof and required surgery to repair his injuries.
- A $3.2 million settlement for a 31-year-old welder who fell through a roof, suffering herniated discs in his back and a traumatic brain injury.
Common Types of Construction Accidents
Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the nation, accounting for about one-fifth of all workplace fatalities each year in the U.S. In the construction industry, more than half of all fatal accidents stem from just four types of accidents, which are commonly called the fatal four.
Construction’s fatal four most common causes of serious injury or death are:
- Falls. Falling, from height or not, is the most common type of accident resulting in injury or death in the construction industry, accounting for around 36 percent of all accidents. Falls are one of the most common causes of catastrophic injuries to the brain and the spinal cord, which are the two organs that make up the body’s central nervous system. These types of injuries often cause long-term disability.
- Being struck by an object. Construction sites tend to be chaotic places where a lot of moving equipment, including vehicles, tools, and other objects, transport around the site, sometimes multiple levels above ground. It is no surprise that one of the most common causes of injury and death in the industry is objects or equipment striking workers. This accounts for about 10 percent of the more than 400 workers killed on U.S. construction sites each year.
- Electrocution. Construction often involves working with or around electrical sources. Electrocution is death or injury by electrical shock. The shock can occur from contact with a power line, faulty equipment, exposed wires, or improper extension cord use. Around nine percent of construction fatalities are the result of electrocutions. Electricity is also responsible for other types of injuries, including electrical shock or burns from arc flashes, fires, and explosions.
- Being caught between objects. Just as many moving objects at a construction site can strike workers, a worker can also become trapped between two objects, vehicles, or moving parts of machinery, often leading to serious or fatal injuries.
Other common types of construction accidents include transportation accidents, exposure to caustic or toxic chemicals, accidents resulting from improper use of a crane or hoist, accidents involving entrapment in a trench, and accidents resulting from malfunctioning equipment.
Injuries Resulting from Construction Accidents
Nearly any type of accidental injury a person can incur can happen during a construction accident.
Some types of injuries are particularly common, however, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries. Falls are among the most common causes of this type of injury, which involves damage to the brain from a violent blow to the head or body. The brain is one of the most important organs in the body—tasked with controlling all functions and involuntary responses—and one of the organs that is least likely to heal after an injury. The brain consists of several functional sections, known as lobes. Each controls different functions in the body. Because the brain only has a limited ability to heal, a traumatic brain injury often results in permanent deficits that depend on which lobe or lobes in the brain sustained damage in the accident.
- Spinal cord injuries. Like the brain, the spinal cord has only a limited ability to heal, and falls are one of the most common causes of this type of injury. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves contained inside the spinal column. It extends from the base of the skull to the waist and relays messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Spinal cord injuries often result in paralysis, which causes limitations in strength, sensation, and function beneath the injury.
- Broken bones. Broken bones are also a common type of injury workers suffer in a fall or from being struck by or caught between objects.
- Amputated limbs. In addition to broken bones, being caught between two objects can result in traumatic amputation, particularly if the two objects are blades or moving parts of a mechanical apparatus.
- Burns. Burns are a hallmark of electrical shock injuries. Severe burns and burns resulting from electrical shock or contact between the skin and caustic chemicals must receive medical treatment so that a healthcare professional can analyze the injury and ensure that the burn didn’t hurt any organs. Severe burns come with a risk of severe infection and often cause extensive scarring.
- Cuts and lacerations. The most common cause of this type of injury is contact between the skin and sharp objects such as pieces of metal or nails.
- Eye wounds. Construction workers often work around a lot of airborne materials, such as dust or fine metal shavings. Failure to use proper eye protection at all times can lead to injuries if particles become embedded in a worker’s eyes.
- Heatstroke. Working outside in the summer or enclosed areas without proper ventilation can lead to heatstroke due to physical exertion at high temperatures. Exertion causes an individual to sweat, which can lead to an excessive loss of fluids, resulting in dehydration. Heatstroke can damage the body’s organs, including the brain, causing them to swell and even to fail if the person’s temperature does not quickly decrease.
- Repetitive injuries and hearing loss. Construction work often involves completing the same motion over and over. This can lead to injuries to the muscles and joints. Construction sites are also noisy locations, and some sounds, such as the noise of a jackhammer, are so loud they can damage a worker’s hearing over time.
Construction Accidents: Personal Injury or Workers’ Comp?
Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation laws require that all employers purchase a workers’ compensation policy for their employees, even if the business is small or family owned. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance policy that provides reimbursement for wage loss, medical treatment, and other benefits to workers who have suffered a work-related injury. Benefits are also available for family members of workers who die in an on-the-job injury or illness.
Because most Massachusetts employers must purchase a workers’ compensation policy, workers are generally ineligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer for injuries they suffered on the job, as workers’ compensation is considered an exclusive remedy.
There are, however, some exceptions, including:
- Workers injured by serious and willful misconduct by their employer or a co-worker. This can include injuries caused by the employer’s failure to observe OSHA regulations or to mitigate issues that the company had been cited for by OSHA. This also covers situations such as workplace violence.
- The employer was required to provide workers’ compensation and failed to do so. As previously stated, nearly all employers in the state are required to purchase workers’ compensation, regardless of the number of their employees.
- A third party (someone who isn’t your employer or your co-worker) caused your injury. A driver traveling through the work zone that injured you would constitute third-party liability. A general contractor who fails to provide a workers’ compensation policy for subcontracted employees and fails to require proof of workers’ compensation coverage can bear liability to an injured subcontractor.
It is not always clear which process is right for a particular situation. The attorneys at Finkelstein & Partners have extensive experience assisting clients with workers’ comp claims and assisting injured workers who are seeking compensation through a personal injury claim. Contact us to schedule a free consultation, and we can advise you which process is most appropriate in your situation.
About Massachusetts’ Workers’ Compensation Program
- Temporary total incapacity benefits, which provide 60 percent of the worker’s gross average weekly wage while the worker can’t work due to injury, for up to 156 weeks. These benefits are available after the worker has missed five days of work due to the injury. If the injury results in more than 21 missed days of work, the worker may receive compensation for the initial five days missed before qualifying for benefits.
- Partial incapacity benefits for workers who still can complete some job tasks, but not all of them, while they recover from their injury. This benefit provides up to 75 percent of the amount the individual would have received for total incapacity benefits for up to 260 weeks.
- Permanent and total incapacity benefits. If a worker’s injury prevents them from returning to work at all, they can obtain permanent and total incapacity benefits, including two-thirds of their average weekly wage and cost of living adjustments for as long as they are disabled.
- Medical benefits. Injured workers are entitled to adequate and reasonable medical care and reimbursement for travel to and from medical appointments and the cost of prescription medications.
- Permanent loss of function and disfigurement benefits. These benefits often come in a one-time lump sum payment, with the amount depending on the severity of the loss of function or disfigurement and the location of the affected organ or limb.
- Survivor or dependent benefits. The family members of a worker who died from a workplace injury or illness can receive these benefits, which include wage replacement of up to two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage and additional weekly compensation for each of the deceased worker’s dependent children. The benefits for spouses last as long as the spouse does not remarry. While the spouse’s remarriage can cause a benefits reduction, monetary benefits remain available for the deceased’s dependent children.
- Burial expenses. Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation program provides up to $4,000 for burial expenses for workers who died of a work-related injury or illness.
Boston Construction Accident FAQ
Below, we discuss some of the most frequently asked questions regarding construction site accidents. If you still have questions or need help with your case, contact our Boston construction accident attorneys.
Whether you are working on a job site or simply a pedestrian passing by, construction accidents are not something you usually see coming. Most of us don’t plan for this type of accident or have a contingency if the worst-case scenario happens. However, it is always helpful to know what to do in the event of an accident.
Every case is different, but generally, you should:
- Evaluate the situation and your injuries: Your health and safety are the most important thing after an accident. Before you do anything, figure out if you are injured or safe. If you are in a dangerous situation, get yourself to safety if possible. If you are injured, call for help.
- Report the accident to the worksite manager: All construction sites should have a worksite foreman. Report the accident to the person in charge because, if a dangerous condition injured you, your report will allow the supervisor to remedy the situation to prevent further injury. Additionally, when you report an injury, it lets the foreman know they need to take a report and contact the relevant parties. If you were on the job at the time, failure to report your injury can result in delays or denials of your claim.
- Seek medical care: After any injury, it is usually a good idea to go to a doctor for a thorough evaluation. An exam can help detect any serious issues and establish a report of your current symptoms and injuries. Report any symptoms or pain, even if you don’t know if it is relevant. Your medical report will become a part of your legal case if you choose to pursue one. Be sure to attend any recommended follow-up care.
- Contact an experienced construction accident attorney: Construction accidents are serious. It is hard to know just how an injury will affect you immediately following an accident. Serious injuries can result in lost time from work and extensive medical bills. An experienced attorney can help you work with the responsible parties to help ensure you don’t have to carry the burden of your injuries alone.
Many people shy away from talking about money after an accident. There is absolutely no reason to do this. Money is a valid concern after an accident. If you miss time from work or need surgery, you need to think about how you will cover these costs.
After a construction accident, the law allows you to pursue reasonable costs and damages from the responsible party to make you whole. In other words, you should not have to suffer any further damages from an accident that was not your fault. When a court or insurance company considers the value of a case, they look at actual and potential costs—that is, damages. Each case’s value will consider different variables, including economic and non-economic damages. Common costs include:
Economic damages normally have an exact dollar amount associated with an item or service. For these damages, your attorney will likely fight for 100 percent reimbursement.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical bills: Many claims cover these bills at 100 percent. Typical costs include doctor appointments, medical procedures, prescription medications, and specialists.
- Lost wages: If you have to take time off from work to recover from your injuries, you will likely need help to cover your loss of income. A personal injury case can include lost wages, starting from the date of your injury, until the day you return to work.
- Vocational retraining: If you can’t return to your previous job, but you can still work, your final settlement may include vocational retraining. Depending on your skills and experience, this may include college courses, certificate programs, or trade school.
- Durable medical equipment: If you break your leg, you may need crutches. If you hurt your back, you may need a brace. Relevant costs can be a component of your final settlement.
- Residential improvements: If your injuries limit your mobility, you may need to modify your home to get around. These improvements are expensive and likely something you cannot cover on your own. Improvements may include wheelchair ramps, handrails, and other assistive devices.
Non-economic damages are harder to quantify. These costs are variable and depend on the unique circumstances of your case. Often, the insurance company will look at the severity of your injuries and their effect on your quality of life to determine an award.
While your attorney may describe all non-economic costs as pain and suffering, a breakdown of these costs can include:
- Pain and suffering: Every person responds to an injury differently. Whether you suffer from physical pain or emotional distress, this pain can affect your quality of life. As such, most personal injury cases include pain and suffering. Common complaints covered by pain and suffering include temporary or permanent physical pain, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
- Loss of companionship: There are many components to a relationship. Loss of companionship may result from diminished physical, emotional, or sexual connection resulting from an injury.
- Wrongful death: Safety and Health Magazine reports a 41 percent increase in construction worker fatalities over the past several years. While financial compensation cannot take away the pain of the loss of a loved one, it can help cover necessary expenses. This may include funeral and burial costs, outstanding medical bills, future lost wages, and pain and suffering.
During your treatment, many costs may come up. This may include doctor’s appointments, chiropractic visits, medications, and other necessary costs. In most cases, you will not receive a payment from the other party until you reach a final agreement. However, this does not mean you have to cover all of your costs out of pocket.
If you need care while your case is pending, your attorney can work out an agreement with your care providers to defer any billing until the end of your case. In this case, your attorney can draft a letter of protection, promising payment once you receive your funds. Not every provider will accept a letter of protection, so you need to talk to your attorney and your care providers before receiving any treatment.
Other options for payment include:
- Your private medical insurance
- Workers’ compensation insurance, if the injury was on the job
- Your auto insurance, if you were driving at the time of the accident
Before you pay any medical bills out of pocket, talk to your attorney about your options. If you purchase any medical supplies from a pharmacy or retail store, be sure to keep all receipts, as you may be eligible for reimbursement.
While many cases only include lost wages for the time you miss from work up until a final settlement, in some cases, the insurance company may consider future lost wages. This generally happens when your injuries are so severe that you likely will not return to your previous line of work.
When this happens, your settlement may include a lump sum payment for wages you would have earned for the remainder of your career. To do this, the court or the insurance company will look at your prior wages and your expected remaining working years until retirement. If your injuries require prolonged treatment or care, your attorney may also argue for future medical costs.
After an accident, the defendant’s insurance company usually handles all matters related to your case. That means all correspondences, settlement offers, and phone calls will come from them. If you do not have an attorney, the insurance company may try to reach out to you for details about the accident.
You do not have to talk to the company, nor should you provide a recorded statement. While the insurance company may try to convince you that they have your best interest in mind, the truth is, they only make profits if they pay out as little as possible. This means they will look for reasons to lower the value of your case.
For this reason, it is always a good idea to have an experienced construction accident attorney handle all communication with the insurance company. This will allow your attorney to determine what information is relevant to the case and control what information becomes part of the official record.
If you receive a phone call from the insurance company, provide them with your attorney’s contact information and ask them to cease any further communication with you. If you do not have an attorney, let the insurance company know your attorney will reach out once you have found appropriate representation.
The Massachusetts statute of limitations determines how long you have to take legal action after a construction accident. For personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is three years. This means you must have the necessary paperwork filed with the court within three years.
Construction accident cases are often complex and take time. The sooner you contact an attorney after your accident, the more time they will have to review the facts and gather evidence to support your case. Further, the sooner you file the case, the sooner your attorney will be able to begin negotiations and ultimately resolve your case.
If you believe your accident falls outside the statute of limitations, contact a construction accident attorney just in case. An experienced attorney can review your case and determine whether you may qualify for an exception to the statute of limitations.
Construction accidents are serious. Even if you feel fine now, symptoms can appear weeks or months after the initial injury. Protect your rights. The best way to do this is to contact an experienced construction accident attorney. During the initial consultation, an attorney will review all relevant facts and details of the accident and discuss your options moving forward.
Injured in a Construction Accident? Finkelstein & Partners Can Help
With experience in both the personal injury process and the workers’ compensation program, an experienced Boston construction accident attorney from Finkelstein & Partners can help you determine the appropriate process for you to seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury.