After an accident at a construction site, you’ll likely have to deal with the consequences immediately. In addition to managing your injuries, you’ll need answers to questions of liability and who was at fault, all while the work has to go on without you.
You’ll likely face immediate questions about worker’s compensation coverage and, too often, insurance adjusters that try to avoid taking responsibility. Asking whether you should hire a construction accident attorney in this situation is only natural.
Top Types of Injuries in the Construction Industry
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Relations, the United States saw nearly 200,000 workers suffer injuries at a construction site. More than 1,000 injuries proved fatal, making construction one of the most dangerous professions in the nation. In that environment, you need a strong legal partner to help you receive fair compensation and support you throughout the process.
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, tracks the top 10 most frequently violated standards every year.
In one recent year, five of the top 10 violations occurred in the construction industry, frequently leading to injuries or worse consequences:
- Fall protection (coming in at #1 on the most frequently cited OSHA standards)
- Construction ladders (coming in at #3 on the most frequently cited OSHA standards)
- Scaffolding (coming in at #5 on the most frequently cited OSHA standards)
- Fall protection training (coming in at #6 on the most frequently cited OSHA standards)
- Eye and face protection (coming in at #8 on the most frequently cited OSHA standards)
Each of these violations is directly related to the construction industry. Others in the top 10, like hazard communication and respiratory protection, can also apply to the field. Whether or not your injury is directly related to one of these violations, hiring a construction accident lawyer becomes essential.
Common Injuries in the Construction Industry
In part because of the above-mentioned safety violations, construction workers face significant risks on the job every day. Slips, falls, and faulty protection can all lead to potentially significant injuries that require extensive and expensive medical attention.
Some of the most common injuries for construction workers include:
- Traumatic brain injuries. Between 2003 and 2010 alone, more than 2,000 construction workers died because of these injuries, which constitutes 25 percent of all fatal accidents in the industry.
- Broken bones. Falls and slips, as well as being struck by an object, were especially common causes of this injury type, putting you out of commission for weeks and potentially months while recovering.
- Electrocution and burns. These injuries occur most frequently because of exposed wires or other safety code violations and can become especially harmful when going beyond skin level.
- Eye injury or blindness. This injury is most commonly caused by insufficient eyewear or protection. If your employer hasn’t provided proper protection or training, they might be liable for the injury.
- Illnesses caused by chemical exposure. Especially hazardous materials like asbestos remain a significant risk for construction workers. Making matters more difficult, you might not begin to feel symptoms of the illness for weeks to years after initial exposure.
Each of these injuries requires immediate and extensive medical attention. Often, that medical attention is expensive, and without being able to prove who is liable for their causes, you might incur significant financial risks. Talking to a lawyer can help you determine just that, taking financial worries out of the equation as you focus on your long-term recovery.
The Power Imbalance in the Construction Industry
When you get into a construction accident, it’s easy to feel discouraged. Even as you look to recover, it quickly becomes a power struggle to determine who is at fault. And here, you might find yourself up against an entire corporate structure with a strong legal team or their worker’s compensation insurer.
This scenario is not like a car accident, where each party has access to equal representation. Standing alone against an entire team set on saving money by avoiding liability is daunting. And yet, it’s the exact scenario that many workers injured at construction sites experience. Knowing how to counter it is crucial to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
5 Reasons to Hire a Construction Accident Attorney After an Injury
An attorney or law firm with experience in handling construction accident cases will become a powerful partner by your side. They’ll help you understand your rights and what steps to take next. The following outlines why hiring a construction accident attorney is such an important step.
1. Helping You Understand All of Your Rights
Especially given the above-mentioned power imbalance in these accidents, it’s easy to forget that every worker has rights. At their core, an accident attorney can help you understand what those rights are and what they mean for you in the aftermath of the event.
The right attorney is well-versed in worker’s compensation laws, both at the state and federal levels. As a result, they can help you understand the situation from a legal perspective, including who is liable and how you can get the justice you deserve.
2. Holding All Relevant Parties Accountable for the Accident
Perhaps one of the most important tools that construction accident attorneys bring to the table is investigation. When you work with one, you can expect them to spend as much time as needed understanding exactly how the accident occurred and how the parties involved might be liable.
Construction projects are complex, with parties like lead contractors, subcontractors, property owners, vendors, manufacturers, and more all having different roles and responsibilities on site. The right lawyer will help to determine how these parties might have been involved in the accident and what that means for your case.
For example, if the accident happened while you were working for your employer, you might be entitled to worker’s compensation. If a piece of equipment or tool was at fault, a claim against the manufacturer might also be an appropriate course of action. Other parties, like property owners, might also contribute to unsafe conditions causing the accident and exposing themselves to legal liability.
An experienced construction accident lawyer has plenty of experience with these complexities. They’ll help you uncover the layers and know exactly what next steps you need to take to hold the right parties accountable.
3. Working With Insurance Companies for You
Few injury cases involve claims against companies and corporations on their own. In most cases, it means working with their insurance companies that cover potential claims.
Of course, it’s in the best interest of those insurance companies to minimize the amount they have to pay. That can mean the use of unfair tactics in which an agent will find a way to get a victim to admit at least some level of liability.
When you hire a construction accident attorney, you no longer have to worry about this uncertainty. As your legal representation, they will work with all parties on your behalf, including insurance companies and their representatives.
Unlike the insurance company, your lawyer will have your best interests in mind throughout the process. They’ll know how to manage individual conversations and whether or not a settlement is high enough for the case in question. They can also help you file paperwork correctly and gather evidence to show that your injuries were actually caused by the accident, two points that insurance companies frequently use to dispute initial claims.
4. Understanding the True Value of a Construction Accident Claim
It’s difficult to gauge exactly how much of a claim for your construction accident would be justified. For a personal injury claim, you’ll have to consider not just the cost of the medical bills but also the loss of income you’ll suffer while recovering and unable to work. If the accident caused any property damage, that will need to be added to the total claim as well, as will pain and suffering damages because the injuries have hurt your life.
When construction attorneys discuss getting you the biggest settlement possible, they don’t mean trying to cheat anyone out of their well-earned money. They mean ensuring that all of the damages the accident has caused, both tangible and intangible, are accounted for. That way, even as you fight to recover from your injuries, you will at least be able to take monetary concerns off your list of stressors.
5. Navigating Your Way Through the Settlement and Legal Process
Working through the aftermath of a construction accident is a constant give and take. The initial steps involve much work, like collecting witness statements, police reports, medical bills, and other evidence. You’ll need to file a claim for workers’ comp or personal injury from there, which might require more evidence. And then it’s a waiting game.
Other parties may look to deny the claim altogether or offer a low settlement amount to start. As the legal process advances, those settlements and stances may change. It becomes a legal dance in which all parties try to get the most for themselves while minimizing risks.
This process, of course, is both time-consuming and immensely stressful. Knowing whether you should take a settlement or keep fighting is difficult. Your attorney can help you make those decisions based on years of experience, navigating you through the legal process with advice that aims to secure your long-term health and future.
When Is the Best Time to Hire a Construction Accident Attorney?
Every situation is different, but generally speaking, hire a construction accident attorney as soon as possible after your injury. The sooner you work with them, the sooner they can get to work for you.
Don’t consider it another daunting step in an already difficult time. Think of it as a step that, if you take it early, can simplify the future for you. As soon as you hire a construction attorney, they’ll begin collecting and analyzing evidence before site repairs occur and evidence is lost. They’ll interview witnesses, work toward deadlines, and become your legal representative in conversations with employers, insurance companies, and other parties.
The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to gather the evidence and collect all necessary documentation. You’ll also start to find yourself up against filing and claim deadlines. Hiring a construction accident attorney takes care of all that while providing crucial peace of mind.
Questions to Ask Your Construction Accident Lawyer at the First Consultation
Most accident attorneys offer a free consultation to get some initial information from you and provide some initial advice.
At that consultation, a few questions can help you understand whether the lawyer has the experience you need to become a reliable legal partner:
- Will you handle my case, or will it be passed off to others in the law firm?
- How long have you been practicing and managing construction accident claims?
- How many of the construction accident cases you’ve handled have been settled? How many have required litigation?
- What can I expect in terms of legal fees and out-of-pocket expenses?
- Can I talk to your past clients to understand their experience working with you?
You should leave the conversation feeling confident that this lawyer is the right representation for you. Be prepared to answer specific questions about your employment situation and the details of the accident, as well.
Hire a Construction Accident Lawyer Today
After a construction-related accident, your may feel overwhelmed. Injuries are often serious, and you’ll be up against a powerful corporation and/or insurance company. Hiring an attorney with relevant experience in this field can take those worries out of the equation. They’ll become your legal representation while you can focus on your recovery. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
If you or someone you love has been in a construction accident, now is the time to seek legal advice. Contact a construction accident lawyer for a free consultation today.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.