I've Been Injured On A Construction Site. What Should I Do First?
We understand that the aftermath of a work accident is extremely stressful. You may be wondering if you'll ever recover or be able to work again. There are a few measures you should keep in mind if you find yourself in this situation:
Seek Medical Care
Your health is always the top priority. After an injury, you must seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your employer may suggest a specific doctor. However, you have a right to seek medical care independently. We recommend exercising this right.
Document The Accident
It would be wise to document the accident as much as you can. Call 911 and have the police complete an accident report. This will provide you with an unbiased account of the facts, which could prove useful in a civil trial. Get copies and keep records for the following:
- Police reports
- Medical reports
- Name of address of job site
- Employer contact info
- Names and contact info for everyone else on job site
- Names and contact info for witnesses
Finally, take plenty of photos of anything relevant to your accident. This includes equipment and your injuries.
Contact A Lawyer
Whether you think you need one or not, it would be wise to at least consult with an attorney. He or she can help analyze the information you've compiled and help determine the viability of a possible lawsuit. Don't share any details, information, or documents with anyone but your lawyer - especially insurance representatives. Adjusters will look for any reason to limit or deny your Workers' Compensation coverage.
What Types Of Accidents Can A Lawyer Help With?
At Monheit Law, our attorneys have experience with a wide range of construction accidents. The circumstances of each accident are different, so a prompt consultation is necessary to determine if you have a case. Some of the more common situations we have experience with include:
Can I Sue My Employer Or Co-workers?
The short answer is no. In the vast majority of workplace injuries, the Workers' Compensation Act prevents employees from suing employers after an accident. Negligence is irrelevant in these cases. As long as your employer has complied with this act, he or she is protected from a lawsuit. You are also prohibited from suing co-workers for their negligence.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
Negligent third parties may be held liable for damages in a construction accident. Most job sites are comprised of workers from different sources. There are several different third parties who could be found liable if they contributed to your accident:
- Independent contractors and subcontractors - Other workers who are not employed by the same company may be held liable for damages. For example, if an independent contractor drops a tool which knocks you off balance and causes a fall from scaffolding.
- Equipment and material manufacturers - Some accidents are caused by defective designs, equipment, or building materials. For example, the manufacturers of face guards or ear plugs could be held liable if the product is defective and results in vision or hearing loss.
- Architects - Sometimes, an incompetent architect may be held liable. For example, in the Philadelphia building collapse of 2013, an expert witness testified that architect Plato A. Marinakos Jr. was primarily responsible for the incident. The expert testified that Marinakos was completely unaware of OSHA's rules regarding worker safety on demolition sites.
- Property owners - Property owners are obligated to provide safe working conditions for construction projects. If they neglect to notice or notify workers of possible dangers, they could be found liable for damages.
What Damages Can I Recover?
Workers' Compensation is presented as a safety net for employees, but employers usually benefit more. When an employer behaves in a negligent way which causes an employee to be seriously injured, Workers' Comp insurance keeps the employer immune from consequences.
Payments for medical bills and partial wages are not enough to cover the extensive damages victims must suffer following an injury. In many cases, a lawsuit is the only recourse victims have. A determined personal injury lawyer can help injured workers who have fallen through the cracks of this system. Additional damages which could be awarded include:
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Past and future lost wages
- Punitive damages
- Loss of consortium for families
What If I Can't Afford A Lawyer?
We understand that serious work accidents may cause a great deal of financial stress. That's why we accommodate prospective clients with free consultations. You shouldn't have to wade through Pennsylvania's complicated work injury policies on your own - you have enough on your plate as it is. We'll gladly work to determine the viability of your case free of charge. If we do accept your case, payment will only be required if we win or settle.
Resources For Injured Workers