Construction can be a dangerous career. When construction workers build homes, offices, bridges, and roads, they’re putting their safety on the line. The great heights, dangerous chemicals, power tools, and heavy construction equipment used in the business can create hazardous working conditions.
The risks of construction accidents become even greater when a construction site isn’t managed with caution.
If you’ve been injured in a construction accident, contact our New Jersey construction accident lawyers at (856) 778-5500. For more than 25 years, the law firm of Console and Associates has been consistently fighting to get clients maximum compensation for construction injuries. For example, we secured an $825,000 settlement for a worksite injury that left a construction worker disabled with multiple herniated discs and nerve damage.
Let our construction accident attorneys focus on compiling the facts of your case while you focus on your health. It costs nothing upfront to hire our highly experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyers to fight for you.
The statistics are alarming. Every year, several hundred construction workers lose their lives in the United States. Many more suffer non-fatal – but serious – injuries.
In 2019, for example, 1,061 construction workers died from injuries they sustained on the worksite, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reported. That equates to one in five fatalities in private industry.
Another 200,100 construction workers suffered recordable non-fatal injuries, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Some of these injuries were severe enough to cause life-changing and debilitating injuries.
Behind every one of these numbers is something even more important: a human story. More than 1,000 families suffered an irreplaceable loss. Hundreds of thousands of people dealt with debilitating pain and, in many cases, a temporary or permanent inability to continue earning a living.
We know you’re more than a statistic. As an injured worker, you’re going through something no one should have to face in the first place – much less on your own, without someone to advocate for you.
OSHA identifies the “Fatal Four” most common causes of construction worker deaths as:
The Fatal Four leading causes of on-site construction worker deaths aren’t the only risks. Construction site accidents take many different forms. Take the example of one of our past clients, for example.
When our client stepped into an unexpected 18-inch-deep hole in the concrete floor of the building where he was working, he violently twisted his ankle. The force of the accident left him with herniated discs in his back. He, like many other construction workers harmed on the job, had to undergo multiple surgeries.
Even after surgery, our client’s injuries were too severe for him to continue his career in carpentry. Fortunately, we were able to get him an $825,000 settlement. This payout covered his lost wages, loss of earning potential, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Just as there are common causes of construction site accidents, there are also medical conditions that are most likely to result from such an accident.
Some of the most common injuries that occur in the construction industry are:
If you suffered any form of injury in a construction accident, you may have the grounds for a claim.
Yes, many construction accidents are absolutely preventable. Workers at construction sites don’t have to take their lives in their hands every time they climb a ladder or turn on a power tool. With the right safety precautions, injuries at construction workplaces are avoidable.
Just getting rid of the “Fatal Four” causes of accidents would cut the number of construction worker deaths in half, OSHA reported.
Too often, the safety of the workers is not a priority on construction sites. OSHA found that several of the safety standards most often violated on construction sites pertain to the Fatal Four, such as:
Investigating the causes of construction accidents is important for multiple reasons. Workers, managers, and companies can learn from accidents that occur and put in place safety measures that prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. In certain circumstances, identifying whether someone else’s negligence caused an accident is the first step toward pursuing a third-party construction accident work injury claim.
First of all, don’t blame yourself. You couldn’t have known what was going to happen. Often, construction accidents have complex causes. You might not fully understand how the accident happened until after an investigation is performed.
The most important thing right now is recovering from your injuries, which is why getting medical care right away is crucial. However, finding out the cause of the construction accident still matters. You need to know what caused your injury and, more specifically, whether a safety standard violation or an unreasonable danger on your work site is to blame. Otherwise, you may unintentionally leave money on the table by failing to file a third-party claim that you’re eligible to pursue.
How do you investigate an accident when you have been so badly injured? How do you determine whether the conditions on the site violated safety laws? By having an experienced New Jersey construction accident attorney handle the investigation for you.
The aftermath of an accident is no time to undertake detective work or try to manage a legal matter on your own. You need to focus all of your energy on rehabilitation. Investigating accidents, gathering the evidence needed to prove another party’s negligence, and handling all aspects of a legal claim are all part of the job an attorney will do for clients – without ever asking for any money upfront.
Another thing you must do to protect your legal rights after a construction accident is report the injury. Let your supervisor know what occurred. Although NJ workers’ comp law does not require you to report the accident in writing, it is often in the workers’ best interests to do so.
Inform the manager or job site supervisor of the following:
If you believe that defective equipment contributed to the accident, you should ask that this equipment be preserved and promptly speak to an attorney about launching an investigation.
Let your company know that you are injured and want to see a doctor, and begin the process of starting a workers’ comp claim for medical benefits, if applicable. Since you won’t have a diagnosis, a prognosis, or a treatment plan until after you have been examined by a doctor, avoid making statements that could undermine the unknown severity of your injury. Don’t say, for instance, that you’ll “probably be fine in a couple days,” because you can’t know that. Instead, leave that for the doctor to determine.
An employee injured at work will generally receive benefits through the New Jersey workers’ compensation system. The workers’ compensation laws in this state are extensive. These laws outline employee and employer rights and responsibilities in the aftermath of a work injury.
The New Jersey workers’ compensation laws do not specifically address construction accident injuries. Instead, these comprehensive regulations cover incidents that occur in all industries.
Under New Jersey law, all NJ employers not covered by federal programs must carry workers’ compensation insurance. This law extends to construction companies and other businesses in the construction industry.
What’s clear about the New Jersey workers’ compensation system is that it is a “no-fault” insurance system. This means that an injured worker should receive benefits no matter who or what caused the injury. Even workers who get hurt due to their own mistakes can still file a workers’ comp claim.
A covered employee would be able to file a workers’ comp claim in NJ if the injury resulted from causes like the following:
If the injury occurred at work or while engaging in work activities, it doesn’t matter who caused it. The worker would have the grounds to pursue a workers’ comp claim.
The law requires that workers’ compensation insurance policies in NJ cover the following types of benefits for injured employees:
Medical benefits are among the most important areas of workers’ comp coverage. Workers’ comp insurance pays for medical treatment up to the point that the injured employee reaches maximum medical improvement. This means that the worker has made the best physical recovery they are likely to achieve.
Medical benefits covered under workers’ comp include:
The employer retains the right to choose which doctor will treat the injured worker. If the doctor chosen for you isn’t listening to your symptoms and concerns and is trying to rush you to wrap up your medical care before you have really recovered, it may be time to bring in an attorney. Similarly, if your doctor isn’t ordering appropriate tests or treatments – preventing you from gaining access to the care you need – you may have to hire a lawyer to advocate for you.
An employee who is unable to work for more than seven days due to a work-related injury or illness is eligible for temporary disability benefits. These benefits are meant to compensate you for lost income while you are out of work.
Temporary disability benefits under workers’ comp insurance don’t cover your full loss of income. Typically, workers receive 70 percent of their weekly wages. This means that, for whatever length of time you’re out of work, you’re taking a 30 percent pay cut. For many families, the reduction in income, even with workers’ comp insurance benefits, is financially devastating.
Not all work injuries are only temporary. If your injuries have a permanent effect on your ability to work, you may be entitled to permanent disability benefits. These benefits may be partial or total, depending on the extent of your disability.
Sometimes, a person’s injury causes them to become permanently partially disabled. You can’t return to your old job, but you may be able to work in a different job role or capacity. In that instance, the injured worker can receive permanent partial benefits after temporary disability benefits end. These benefits are often paid on a weekly basis.
A worker who is unable to return to any type of gainful employment due to their injuries may be able to receive permanent total disability benefits. These benefits are paid on a ratio determined by the worker’s former level of pay. Workers will receive these benefits for a period of up to 450 consecutive weeks. After that point, the injured worker must again prove that they are unable to return to work to continue to receive these benefits.
Death benefits are paid to the dependents of any worker who:
Unless otherwise ordered by a judge, only the following people are considered eligible dependents for workers’ comp death benefits:
You generally don’t need an attorney if you have a relatively straightforward workers’ compensation claim. Most injured workers start the process of seeking workers’ comp benefits without legal representation.
Generally, you will want to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer if one of the following occurs:
A workers’ compensation attorney represents and advocates for you in your workers’ comp claim.
Employers in New Jersey must provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. It’s the law. Any employer that fails to do so can face significant penalties.
A willful violation of this legal requirement can result in a disorderly persons offense. In New Jersey, this is a crime of the fourth degree.
Companies may also see financial consequences of failing to insure workers against work-related injuries. Employers can face fines of up to $5,000 for the first 10 days they go without workers’ comp insurance in place, plus up to $5,000 for each additional 10-day period. The officers of a corporation that goes without workers’ comp insurance may face individual liability for these penalties.
Even if a company declares bankruptcy, it cannot get out of the consequences of failing to carry workers’ compensation insurance. These penalties are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
In certain cases, a worker injured in a construction accident might have the grounds for a personal injury claim. You might file this claim instead of or in addition to a workers’ comp claim, but you must file it against a third party – not against your employer.
Generally, you can’t sue your employer for injuries you suffer in an accident. Workers’ comp insurance protects employers from lawsuits over work-related injuries.
You can, however, sue someone other than your employer if that person or entity caused your injury. This entity would be considered a third party – in addition to you and your employer – to your accident.
Some examples of instances in which a third-party claim could arise out of a construction accident include:
In many cases, there are multiple third-party construction companies or independent contractors present at a single construction site. When a third party (not the employer) causes an accident, the injured party can secure compensation through a personal injury lawsuit as opposed to strictly through a workers’ compensation claim.
If you think you have the grounds for a third-party construction accident claim, you should consult an attorney. An experienced work injury lawyer can help you figure out whether you can make a claim and handle your case.
States set their own time limits for how long a person has to take action on a legal matter. These time limits are typically called the statutes of limitation.
Understanding the standard limitations for a New Jersey construction accident injury means understanding how the injury occurred, who caused the injury, and what NJ laws say. The statute of limitations and other deadlines determine how long you have to report an injury or file a claim for the purposes of both workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits.
Under New Jersey law, an injured worker generally has 14 days to report an injury. In some cases, the injured worker may have up to 90 days to report a specific injury to collect workers’ compensation benefits.
The sooner an employee reports an injury, the better. If waiting to report an injury causes a delay in your diagnosis and treatment, that can make your rehabilitation take longer.
After notifying the employer, an injured worker typically has two years to file a claim to receive compensation.
Third-party work injury claims are different from workers’ comp claims. However, those differences may not extend to the amount of time you have to file a claim.
If you’re filing a third-party claim over your construction accident injury, the New Jersey personal injury statute of limitations applies. Under this statute, a worker injured by a third party at a construction site generally has two years to file a lawsuit.
There are certain exceptions, though. For example, if the third party you are seeking to hold accountable for your injuries is a government agency or public entity, you may have as little as 90 days to formally take action.
Injured construction workers should speak to an attorney as soon as possible to start their work injury lawsuit. Remember, third-party work injury matters are personal injury claims, not no-fault workers’ comp claims. You have to prove that the defendant was negligent in a third-party personal injury case. It’s a lot easier to gather the evidence necessary to prove negligence around the time of the accident than if you wait until months, or almost until years, have gone by.
The kinds of damages you can seek in a construction accident case depend on the type of claim you’re pursuing. The damages you can seek in a workers’ comp claim differ from what’s available in a third-party personal injury claim.
What Are Damages?
“Damages” is the legal industry term for the harms and losses you suffer in a personal injury, such as in a construction accident. The separate but similar-sounding term “money damages” refers to the compensation you receive through your claim.
In a workers’ compensation case, the injured worker can receive medical benefits and lost wages benefits.
Keep in mind that the workers’ compensation system in New Jersey is a no-fault system. This means that it does not matter which party caused the injury. You still get workers’ comp benefits even if you were at fault for the accident that caused your injuries.
However, workers seeking damages in a workers’ comp claim can’t sue for additional compensation for pain and suffering.
Injured construction workers who are able to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit are entitled to more money. That’s because damages in a third-party claim aren’t restricted by workers’ comp rules.
The more extensive types of damages you might seek in a third-party claim include:
The chance to sue for pain and suffering can have a big impact on the amount of your settlement. So can the ability to recover the full amount of your lost wages, instead of just a portion of that amount. Two injured workers with the same injuries and paths to rehabilitation may see very different payouts if one is able to sue a third party.
At Console and Associates P.C., our attorneys have more than 25 years of experience helping accident victims. We know how to prepare your case for success, how to negotiate the maximum settlement with the responsible parties, and, when needed, how to fight for you in court.
We also know what you’re going through. That’s why we’ll do everything we can to make the situation less of a burden on you. The only thing you should have to focus on right now is getting better.
Despite the strict standards and regulations, construction site workers face high risks of injury every day they’re on the job site. Don’t give up your legal rights by trying to handle this accident on your own. Contact Console and Associates P.C.‘s experienced New Jersey construction accident lawyers today at (856) 778-5500 to get started with a free consultation.