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Step-by-Step Guide of What To Do After a Construction Site Accident

personal injury lawyer

In 2019, around 20% of worker fatalities were construction site accidents. This means that out of 5,333 worker accidents, 1,061 were construction site injuries — accounting for one out of five worker deaths. This makes for alarming labor statistics considering that there are numerous professions, but being a construction worker is considered one of the most dangerous jobs.

Causes of construction accidents include poor training, exposure to high-risk equipment, lack of safety equipment, and more. While accidents happen on construction sites and are often inevitable based on labor statistics, there are certain measures you can take to alleviate the effects of these unfortunate situations. Read this guide to learn more about construction site accidents, the common causes and injuries, and the step-by-step process to follow in filing a personal injury claim.

Most Common Types of Construction Site Accidents

There are several common construction site accidents that happen in the construction industry. Below are some of them:

Demolition Accidents

Demolition is often necessary to give way to newer infrastructures on construction sites. However, this process often involves explosives that may expose the construction workers to imminent danger. Demolition and similar construction accidents may lead to serious injuries such as traumatic brain injury, lacerations, burns, paralysis, and broken bones, among others. These kinds of accidents, even when survived by the worker, are often traumatizing and cause permanent injuries.

Machinery Accidents

Construction workers deal with pieces of dangerous heavy equipment on construction sites every day, which increases the risk of death among its operators. Examples of this large equipment are cranes, bulldozers, and jackhammers, but it’s crucial to note that smaller and lighter power tools like drills and nail guns can also be sources of a construction accident. Most common machinery injuries are caused by forklift accidents. Those who use this ground machinery are at a higher risk of getting injured.

Falling Debris

A construction site is often a place that’s falling apart, and falling objects on the ground are inevitable. Materials such as pieces of scaffolding, heavy building materials, and other construction tools can fall from great heights and cause serious injury to a construction worker who gets hit. This is why they are required to wear hard hats at all times for safety precautions.

Ground Collapses

An area of soil gets disturbed during excavations before constructing a new building. Because of this, the surrounding soil may become unstable and collapse. Construction workers may get trapped, injured, or worse, killed when this happens while they’re on said ground at the construction site.

Explosions and Fires

Equipment malfunctions, gas leaks, electrical issues, and improper storage of flammable items can lead to explosions and fires on construction sites. There are several serious injuries that these construction accidents can cause, such as disfigurement, burns, and developed illnesses like lung problems caused by smoke inhalation.

Slips and Falls

Falls often occur from roofs, ladders, scaffolding, elevator shafts, chimneys, and other high places where construction workers perform their tasks. The injuries are often severe since most construction workers work in a high office location. This is why safety nets are recommended to protect many construction workers who are working on a project at the same time from construction accidents.

Slips, on the other hand, are one of the most common construction site accidents on this list. Because of tools, debris, imbalanced flooring, holes, poor lighting, unsafe stairs, slippery elevator shafts, and greasy floors on a construction site, a construction worker may sustain soft tissue injuries, sprained ankles, and lacerations, broken legs, and traumatic brain injury leading to death.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Construction workers deal with repetitive stress injuries due to the routine work they perform and the same heavy equipment they deal with on a daily basis. These repetitive stress injuries may include serious damage to ligaments, nerves, muscles, and tendons.

Electrocutions

Construction workers often expose themselves to power sources and lines. Some of these lines and wires are exposed, unfinished, or downed. Even a properly trained employee won’t be able to see these wires, especially in the middle of construction work. This is the root cause of electrocution, and construction sites should keep the working area clear to prevent deadly construction site injuries and other construction accidents.

Overexertion

A construction worker works long hours in harsh weather conditions while being exposed to hazardous chemicals and substances emitted during construction work. Because of this, they may faint, dehydrate, or have a stroke. Another reason for this is fatigue, which leads to serious health risks and conditions in the long run.

Vehicular Accidents

These commonly happen on highway construction sites, especially when distracted, speeding, or intoxicated drivers lose control of the vehicle. This can cause serious injuries and death among the workers on shift during that period.

Construction sites on highways often put up large signs or lights to veer vehicles away from the place and allow them to drive safely.

Getting Trapped

Construction workers also deal with narrow passageways or even deep crevices to perform construction work. They may get trapped, run out of oxygen, and sustain broken bones. They may also get trapped in between debris falling from significant heights.

Causes of Accidents in Construction Sites

Construction accidents are unforeseen circumstances that could have been avoided if better measures were in place. Below are some of the common causes of construction accidents:

Cluttered Tools and Objects

Sharp and heavy objects should be stored properly on construction sites as they can compromise occupational safety among construction workers. These may cause deep cuts, bruises, and head trauma that could lead to death.

Flimsy Ladders and Scaffolding

Some construction materials are too old and should not be used anymore on construction sites. They become flimsy in the long run and may not be durable enough to handle construction workers assigned to work on heights. The falls caused by flimsy ladders and scaffolding may cause fractures and even death among workers.

Faulty Machinery

Some construction workers do away with checking their equipment for damage or malfunctions. Little do they know that this may cause grave construction site injuries and claim numerous lives. This is why construction companies are advised to employ durable and properly functioning equipment for their construction workers.

Lack of Proper Training

Companies that are in a rush to finish a project may hire workers on a whim, not knowing that they actually lack the basic training required from construction staff. This is one of the leading causes of high-risk accidents since these workers are unaware of or lack proper training on safety precautions.

Hazardous Construction Location

Some construction sites can either be unsuitable for work or disaster-prone. This is why engineers conduct ocular inspections first before workers can start their operations on site. However, despite this measure, accidents can still happen.

Noise Hazards

Some construction workers experience deafness caused by the loud noises emitted by heavy machinery and equipment. These loud inaudible sounds can also inflict long-term medical conditions on the limbs and nerves of the workers.

Common Injuries Experienced by Construction Workers

Some of the most common injuries experienced by construction workers are as follows:

  • Knee and ankle injuries
  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Eye injuries (leading to blindness or vision impairment)
  • Electrocution
  • Burns
  • Head injuries (leading to brain damage)
  • Toxic chemical exposure (leading to long-term and permanent illnesses)
  • Spinal cord injuries (leading to quadriplegia or paraplegia)
  • Neck, back, and shoulder injuries

This list is not all-inclusive, and construction workers may still experience more serious injuries leading to significant medical bills and even death in worst-case scenarios. This is why occupational safety is considered crucial in all workplaces, especially in the construction industry.

Steps a Construction Worker Should Take When Injured

These injuries and accidents may sound alarming, but you are not left without any remedy. There are certain measures and steps you can follow to ensure you get medical attention and the legal remedies you deserve after an unfortunate accident.

Seek Medical Attention

No matter the gravity of the personal injury you’ve sustained, you must immediately seek medical help before even thinking about other matters. Typically, construction companies enlist medical doctors on-site to take care of injured employees. Be wary of your movements once you sustain an injury. For instance, if you have a back or spinal injury, it’s always advisable to stay still and wait until a medical practitioner arrives.

A minor wound can turn into a serious injury after hours or even days of letting it be. Thus, seeking medical attention should be the first step before you can file or report anything about the construction accident to your employer, a law firm, or the authorities.

Notify the Employer

After letting a physician address your medical concerns and diagnose you properly, report the incident to your employer or contractor in detail. Note that certain states impose a limited period as to when a worker must report a work accident.

Moreover, there are other reasons why you should report your construction injuries to your employer as soon as possible:

For Your Workers Compensation Claim

Reporting the construction incident early means speedier processing of your workers’ compensation claim. This will help you avoid unnecessary delays and claim the amount you deserve for the injuries and lost wages you’ve sustained. You can also contact a law firm at this point to answer any questions you may have about your situation.

For Future Precautionary Measures

Once you inform your employer about the incident you’ve experienced, they can take better measures to keep the workplace safer for other construction workers.

For Credibility

Your medical claims may eventually reach court and the insurance company depending on the circumstances. Thus, it’s best to report the incident promptly to your employer to erase any trace of doubts they may have as to the credibility of your narrative. Once you employ a law firm, they can instruct you on the accurate process to observe as you deal with your case.

Write a Thorough Report of the Incident

Similar to other legal processes, a thorough report is necessary to expedite your claim processing. You have to write in exact detail the nature of your injury, the exact time and date the incident occurred, and eyewitnesses who could have seen the accident.

Some construction sites have CCTV cameras. If you can secure footage of the incident, that would also be a big help for your personal injury attorney.

Take Pictures

While this can be a challenging step, especially if the incident occurred in a blink of an eye, you can gather pictures from CCTV cameras. You can also ask any eyewitness or workers if they managed to take pictures of the machinery accident, for example. You can also instruct another worker to take pictures of the site and the scene for future reference. You may need them for your claim.

Contact a Law Firm

Contact a personal injury lawyer for legal advice about your claim and compensation. These can be challenging to process, especially since the burden of proof is upon you. You have to work with your personal injury attorneys to prove that the accident was work-related and that the requisites of a valid claim are all complied with.

Work on Your Recovery

No matter how minor or grave, a construction accident can affect someone’s physical and mental health and well-being. Thus, it’s important for you to focus on your recovery aside from all the legal matters you’re dealing with. Focus on your health as your personal injury lawyers deal with the rest. A personal injury attorney can alleviate the effects of the construction accident for you and make recuperation easier after sustaining injuries on a construction site.

Workers’ Compensation

The construction industry, having the most dangerous jobs in the world, recognizes workers’ compensation claims as they are mandated by law to do so. There are various types of policies available, and employers can obtain coverage in New York City through the New York State Insurance Fund, a private insurance company, or through self-insurance.

Learn more about workers’ compensation by reading the requirements and eligibility below.

Who Is Eligible?

The following are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits:

  • Some employees of not-for-profit businesses
  • Employees of for-profit businesses
  • Employees working in New York City

Note that there is no residency requirement for a worker who is planning to take advantage of these benefits. As long as you fall under any of these eligibility requirements, you may apply for personal injury compensation.

Coverage

Below is the coverage of the construction workers’ compensation benefits:

  • Medical expenses and healthcare expenses related to your injuries
  • Funeral costs in case of death
  • Lost wages during the injury
  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Disability benefits (due to temporary or permanent disabilities)
  • Ongoing long-term medical treatment
  • Cash benefits (two-thirds of the average weekly wage)
  • Travel expenses (for health care appointments)

Process of Getting Workers’ Compensation

As mentioned previously, the first step is to obtain medical treatment immediately. These construction accident injuries can be life-threatening. It’s best not to take your chances and risk losing your life over delayed treatment.

Then, after informing your direct supervisor about the injury, notify your employer in writing about the extent of your injury. This should be a detailed account of the construction accident for them to grant you the compensation you deserve. This must be accomplished and submitted within 30 days of the accident.

Next, fill out a form called Employee Claim (C-3) the moment you can. You can get this form from the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. This form should be accomplished within two years of the construction accident. The next steps will involve the assistance of your counsel. They know the ins and outs of a workers’ compensation claim, and they can help you get approval under the New York State Law. They can also help you file an appeal in case your claim gets rejected or when you need to file a new one.

Contact a Construction Site Accident Lawyer

Accidents happen, and since construction work is one of the most dangerous jobs, you have to be careful not to sustain these injuries. However, since accidents are unforeseen and can happen while you’re operating machinery or using power tools, you can contact a personal injury attorney to help you. They are well versed in terms of local law and work injury and can provide you with reliable legal services to alleviate the suffering sustained from forklift accidents or similar incidents you’ve sustained.

Moreover, construction accidents can be tough, which is why you don’t need to stress yourself out with the technical matters involved in litigation. If your claims reach as far as the courts, reliable personal injury attorneys can help you get through it without much work on your part. They know all the processes involved in compensation claims and construction accidents. You can get the ruling you deserve with an attorney you trust. 

The construction industry possesses a greater risk of accidents and injuries. For accident victims who need a personal injury attorney after being injured or getting involved in construction accidents in lower Manhattan, you can call The Pagan Law Firm. We can give you sound and fair legal advice about your personal injury case. You can call us at (219) 266-6502 or click here for a free consultation.