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New Jersey Construction Accident Lawyer

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.

 

 

worker's compensation accident justice

The Numbers Behind Construction Accidents

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.

The “Fatal Four” Causes of Construction Accidents

OSHA identifies the “Fatal Four” most common causes of construction worker deaths as:

  1. Falls. Falls accounted for a shocking 36.5 percent of all construction deaths. That means more than one in three construction site fatalities involved a fall, often from rooftops, scaffolding, or ladders. The heights at which construction workers must work play a role in the danger posed by falls in this industry.
  2. Struck by Object. With the number of large, heavy parts and pieces of equipment that construction workers encounter on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that accidents happen in which victims are struck by objects. More than 10 percent of construction deaths involved objects striking workers.
  3. Electrocutions. It’s essential to take precautions on the job site when working with electricity, which can be dangerous and may even prove fatal. About 8. 6 percent of construction workers killed on the job died by electrocution.
  4. Caught-in/between. About 2.5 percent of construction worker deaths involve being caught in or between objects or machinery. Although the percentage of deaths caused by these circumstances is smaller, the danger is still very serious. Even a victim who survives being caught in or caught between the parts and machinery on a construction job may lose fingers, feet, or arms. The consequences of non-fatal construction accidents that involve being caught in or between objects can change victims’ lives radically, including ending their construction careers and making it much harder for them to earn a living.

Beyond the Fatal Four Construction Accident Causes

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.

Common Injuries in Construction Accident Claims

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:

  • Amputation, the full or partial loss of a limb or other body part
  • Back injury, such as a herniated disc, that can cause significant pain and mobility limitation
  • Brain injury, closed-head or open-head injuries that damage the brain and can, in turn, cause severe and widespread losses in function
  • Broken bones, some of which can require surgery and physical therapy as part of rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injury, which can lead to paralysis
  • Soft tissue damage, including not only whiplash but also painful medical conditions that require more extensive treatment

If you suffered any form of injury in a construction accident, you may have the grounds for a claim.

Are Construction Accidents Preventable?

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:

  • Fall protection
  • Scaffolding
  • Ladders
  • Machinery and machine guarding
  • Electrical wiring methods, components, and equipment
  • Electrical systems design
  • Powered industrial trucks

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.

What Should You Do If You or Someone You Love Suffered Injuries in a Construction Accident?

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.

How to Make an Accident Report in Construction

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:

  • The date and time the accident occurred
  • The precise location of the accident
  • Any witnesses to the accident
  • What happened

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.

The 5 Most Important Steps to Take After a Construction Accident

    1. Report the accident to your supervisor or construction site manager. An accident report proves that the injury occurred at the workplace and may be required to start accessing workers’ comp benefits.
    2. Seek medical care from an appropriate provider. Ensure that you’re bringing to the doctor’s attention any injury or ailment related to your accident, no matter how moderate, and don’t let your concerns be dismissed.
    3. Keep a file of any and all paperwork and correspondence for your reference. If you need to bring on an attorney later, these documents will be helpful.
    4. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. If you encounter an obstacle in your workers’ comp claim, speak to a workers’ compensation attorney.
    5. If you believe someone other than your employer could be responsible for your injury, consult a lawyer who handles third-party work injury cases.

What Do the Labor Laws in New Jersey State About Construction Accidents?

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.

Workers’ Compensation Claims in NJ

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.

When Does Workers’ Comp Apply to a Construction Accident Injury?

A covered employee would be able to file a workers’ comp claim in NJ if the injury resulted from causes like the following:

  • The worker’s own actions
  • The actions of a coworker
  • A tool mishap
  • The actions of the employer

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.

What Benefits Does Workers’ Comp Insurance Cover?

The law requires that workers’ compensation insurance policies in NJ cover the following types of benefits for injured employees:

  • Medical benefits
  • Temporary disability benefits
  • Permanent partial disability benefits
  • Permanent total disability benefits
  • Death benefits

Workers’ Comp Medical Benefits

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:

  • Emergency care
  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Any other treatment deemed necessary by the doctor

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.

Disability Benefits Under Workers’ Comp

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 Under Workers’ Comp

Death benefits are paid to the dependents of any worker who:

  • Was killed on the job, or
  • Died from a work-related injury or illness

Unless otherwise ordered by a judge, only the following people are considered eligible dependents for workers’ comp death benefits:

  • Spouses
  • Children who were living with the deceased worker

When Do You Need a Workers’ Comp Lawyer?

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:

  • The insurance company providing the workers’ comp policy argues that your injuries aren’t directly related to your work, such as claiming that they resulted from pre-existing conditions
  • The insurance company denies your claim
  • There are disputes over the severity or permanence of your injuries
  • Your injuries keep you out of work for a long time, require very extensive medical treatment, or are especially serious
  • Delays on behalf of the insurance company keep you from promptly receiving the medical care you need

A workers’ compensation attorney represents and advocates for you in your workers’ comp claim.

What Happens If an Employer Fails to Carry Workers’ Comp Insurance?

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.

Third-Party Construction Accident Injury Claims

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.

What Is a Third-Party Work Injury Claim?

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.

What Counts as a Third-Party Construction Accident Claim?

Some examples of instances in which a third-party claim could arise out of a construction accident include:

  • A defective tool or equipment causing the accident (leading to a claim against the manufacturer)
  • Another driver striking a construction vehicle you were driving while on the clock (leading to a claim against the driver)
  • A dangerous work environment caused by a party with whom you do not have an employer-employee relationship that would be covered under workers’ comp insurance (such as if you are brought on as a subcontractor for the duration of the project rather than an in-house employee)

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.

What Is the Statute of Limitations in New Jersey for Construction Accident Injuries?

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.

The Statute of Limitations on Workers’ Comp Claims

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.

Statutes of Limitations on Construction Accident Personal Injury Claims

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.

What Kinds of Damages Can I Recover in a Construction Accident Claim?

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.

Damages in a New Jersey Workers’ Comp Claim

In a workers’ compensation case, the injured worker can receive medical benefits and lost wages benefits.

  • Medical benefits: Worker’s comp medical benefits cover the costs of approved medical care related to the injury. You don’t have to pay a deductible under workers’ comp coverage.
  • Lost wages benefits: Workers’ comp insurance includes benefits for lost income while an injury kept you out of work. However, you won’t receive payment for the full amount of your lost wages. Instead, workers’ comp claimants receive a portion, 70 percent, of their usual income.

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.

Damages in a Third-Party Construction Accident Case

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:

  • Medical benefits: Of course, the injured person in a personal injury claim can recover money for their medical expenses.
  • Lost wages benefits: Suing for a personal injury can get you compensation for the full amount of your lost wages, not just the 70 percent you would receive under a workers’ comp claim.
  • Pain and suffering: A third-party construction accident personal injury claim also allows the injured person to sue for non-economic damages. These damages include pain and suffering, as well as declines in your quality of life. You can’t seek payment for pain and suffering under a worker’s comp claim.

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.

What Our New Jersey Construction Injury Lawyers Can Do for You

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.