If you or a loved one has been in a construction accident, you may feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or afraid when trying to pursue a claim or stand up for your rights. It’s a sad fact of life that workplace accidents happen all the time in Indiana but not everyone gets the compensation they’re due.
Here’s what you need to know about construction accidents, which are a leading cause of on-the-job deaths. An Indiana construction accident attorney can help you work through the claim process so you receive the compensation to which you’re entitled and can move on with your life again.
Construction Accident Statistics
Unfortunately, accidents happen every day on construction sites across the USA, including in Hamilton County. The US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains statistics about workplace accidents.
In 2020, 4,764 workers died on the job across all professions. Nearly half of those fatalities include people in construction, transportation, material moving, and extraction jobs.
OSHA has developed standards to reduce accidents and improve workplace safety. However, these standards are often violated, resulting in accidents and deaths. The 10 most common types of violation are:
- Fall protection in construction
- Respiratory protection in multiple industries
- Ladders in construction
- Hazard communication in general workplaces
- Scaffolding in construction
- Fall protection training in construction
- Control of hazardous energy across many sectors
- Eye and face protection in construction
- Powered industrial trucks in many industries
- Machinery and machine guarding in multiple types of workplaces
As you can see, construction represents an overwhelming number of OSHA safety violations.
Types of Construction Accident Lawsuits
Accidents in construction fall into a number of different categories, based on the specific type of work involved. Small construction sites, such as home building and renovation, as well as municipal and large industrial construction projects contribute to accident statistics, which in turn spur many lawsuits.
Some common types of construction accidents include:
- Shoring accidents
- Tunnel accidents
- Highway construction accidents
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Big equipment accidents
- Machinery code accidents
- Scaffolding failures
- Lifting accidents
- Welding accidents
- Trips and falls
- Safety code violations
A few of these accident types have been termed the Fatal Four by OSHA because they are sadly so common: struck by objects, falls, electrocution, and caught in/between. If these accidents were eliminated, hundreds of lives would be saved every year.
Typically, workers’ compensation claims are the only type filed following these accidents. Workers’ compensation is insurance that employers take to cover medical and disability expenses for employees injured on the job. However, workers’ compensation doesn’t always cover the extent of money or physical health lost by workers.
There are other types of claims that could be brought in many construction accidents, such as:
- Personal injury cases, usually involving negligence on the part of someone involved in the job site
- Product liability if a tool or utility is responsible for the injury (product liability can also include wholesalers and retailers, as well as the product manufacturer)
- Wrongful death, brought by a family member if someone dies on the job
This is one reason it’s smart to speak with an Indiana accident lawyer if you have an accident while working. You may be eligible for claims beyond workers’ compensation and not know it.
What Are OSHA Rights?
Your employer is required to provide you with a workplace that is free of the hazards discussed above and in more detail below. You should not become injured or sick while on the job, and this right is required by OSHA.
Do you know your OSHA rights? Here are the ways you should be protected at work.
You have the right to information that affects your health and safety at work.
This includes chemicals used at work, accidents involving other employees, and tests your employer has done regarding safety issues like chemical, noise, and radiation levels.
You have the right to know about chemical hazards.
Before you are exposed to any chemicals, you should be informed about them, including receiving a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on each one. They must be properly labeled, and you should be trained on how to work with them, as well as offered the appropriate personal protection.
You have the right not to be discriminated against for taking proper health and safety activity.
You cannot be punished, be transferred, be denied a raise, have your hours reduced, or be fired for taking workplace precautions. Speaking up about workplace safety concerns can be considered whistleblowing in many scenarios; your employer cannot retaliate against you for whistleblowing.
You have the right to health and safety training.
Your employer must provide training related to safety in the workplace. In particular, this applies, but is not limited to, working with chemicals or lockout/tagout procedures with equipment.
You have the right to file an OSHA complaint.
If you think your workplace is unsafe, you can file a report with OSHA in writing or by phone (1-800-321-OSHA).
You have the right to an OSHA inspection of your workplace.
You can ask for OSHA to inspect your workplace for potential safety violations. You can do this by visiting the OSHA office nearest to you.
It can be intimidating to fight back if your OSHA rights have been violated as a construction worker. You may worry about retaliation that affects your livelihood. Also, it can be tough to deal with OSHA rights violations after you have already had an accident or sustained an injury on the job.
That’s why many people turn to a construction accident attorney for help. Construction accident claims and lawsuits tend to be complex too. An experienced accident lawyer can help with issues such as:
- Interpreting state and federal regulations
- Negotiating with insurance companies
- Securing compensation you are rightfully owed
- Representing you in court, if necessary
- Preventing future workplace accidents of the same nature
Common Causes of Construction Accidents
As mentioned above, many construction accidents are due to the same causes, often caused at the root by hurrying to get a job done quickly or an employer trying to save money. Have you or a loved one encountered any of these common construction accident causes?
- Lack of respiratory protection or other necessary safety gear
- Tripping hazards from debris or materials around the construction site
- Lack of fall protection for workers on elevated structures
- Failure to protect people on the ground from falling objects
- Unsafe equipment or vehicles
- Power tools lacking protection, like missing guards
- No safety precautions taken around power lines
- Lack of protection for workers in trenches
- General unsafe property conditions
- Failure to secure a highway or roadway worksite from motorists
These are just some of the many ways workers get hurt on construction sites, but it is by no means comprehensive.
Who is Liable in an Accident on a Construction Site?
Every construction accident is unique. If you wish to file a claim or lawsuit following injury on the job in Fishers, Indiana, or elsewhere in Hamilton County, you and your accident attorney will have to prove that someone was liable, meaning they were responsible for the accident, usually through negligence.
A construction accident isn’t always caused by only one party. Any of the following parties could be considered liable, depending on the situation:
- The employer or job site manager
- Property owner
- Equipment manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer
- Utility company
- Municipal government
- Union personnel
- Another third party
Some liability cases are very difficult to unravel. That’s where a good personal injury lawyer can be invaluable in making a good case.
What to do Immediately After a Construction Site Accident
If you have been recently involved in a construction accident, there are four steps you should take right away to protect yourself.
First, seek medical attention for any injuries or illnesses. You want to reduce the likelihood that any health problems could become career-limiting for you in the future. Even if it seems like your injuries are minor, it’s best to consult with a doctor to make sure they aren’t something that could get worse over time.
Second, notify your employer in writing, and be certain to keep a copy for yourself. This will help speed up any workers’ compensation claim; make your claim seem more valid to the employer, the insurance company, and the court; and help satisfy OSHA requirements that may lead to the prevention of future accidents too.
Third, document what happened and gather information as best as possible. This includes:
- Getting contact information for witnesses
- Photographing the scene and any damage
- Recording your medical expenses
- Keeping track of correspondence with your employer regarding the accident and the conditions surrounding it
Finally, you want to consult with a construction accident lawyer. You may only be eligible for workers’ compensation. However, there are circumstances where a personal injury lawsuit may be justified. An accident attorney can help you figure out if that applies to your case.
What Does a Construction Accident Attorney Do?
We talked a bit above about what a construction accident lawyer can do to help you or a family member after a construction accident. Let’s go into a little more detail here so you understand how this type of attorney can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
What are all the ways an accident attorney can help you?
Construction accident attorneys not only understand the complexities of accident scenarios but also know the statute of limitations for acting. Both workers’ compensation claims and lawsuits have time limits that must be considered in order to receive what’s rightfully yours in the end. If you live in Fishers, or nearby in Hamilton County, for example, applying the Indiana statute of limitations would be very important in your case’s success.
- They can take your details of what happened and help you determine if you have a case, using their experience with the law.
- They can hold the parties accountable, which as mentioned earlier can be complex and involve more than one person or group.
- They can negotiate with insurance companies, who are well-known for trying to pay as little as possible in accident claims.
- They can take on documentation, phone calls, and other tasks that you may be too sick, busy, or overwhelmed to handle.
- They can fight for your rights, whether via an insurance claim or in court.
- They can speed up the processing of claims so your case doesn’t drag out longer than it should and you can get your life back.
- They can help you figure out potential losses you may not have calculated, such as how your accident affects future earnings, your quality of life, or your family’s life, which in turn affects your claim.
- They can initiate a lawsuit on your behalf, helping you file the paperwork and representing you in court.
- They can help prevent other workers from suffering the same injuries as you by bringing the liable party’s negligence to light.
How Much is My Construction Site Accident Claim Worth?
As we have said above, you may be limited to a workers’ compensation claim if your employer or a coworker was responsible for your accident. That’s one of the trade-offs of workers’ comp. However, there are other scenarios in which you may be eligible for a personal injury claim.
While the compensation via workers’ comp is generally more limited, a personal injury claim can be broader in scope and seek compensation for:
- The cost of your medical care
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Long-term impairment
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Loss of income (current and future)
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
- Wrongful death (for family members)
Proving liability and working with an experienced accident attorney who can best make your case for you gives you the greatest likelihood of a positive outcome that gives you the damages you deserve.
If you’re ready to discuss the details of your construction accident and see what your claim might be worth, SLG Accident Attorneys in Fishers, Indiana welcomes the opportunity to speak with you. There is no charge for an initial consultation to chat about your case. Call us at 317-762-4186 or reach out online to let us know how we can help.