8 Most Common Construction Accidents Resulting in Personal Injury
There are several different ways to measure how dangerous an industry is. According to the National Safety Council Injury Facts, Construction ranked eighth in 2021 for the number of non-fatal injuries, and number one in deaths. Considering all of the heavy equipment and hazardous conditions on a construction site, these statistics are not surprising.
Unlike typical personal injury cases, construction accidents resulting in personal injury usually result in a workers’ compensation claim rather than a lawsuit. Workers’ comp claims differ from regular insurance claims in some significant ways and vary from state to state. It is a good idea to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure full compensation. Hipskind & McAninch, for example, have experience handling cases for both workers’ compensation and general personal injury.
Common Construction Accidents
OSHA identifies the leading cause of death for construction workers as the “Fatal Four.” Together, these four account for nearly 59% of all construction accident deaths. They are also responsible for many non-fatal personal injuries:
- Falls (either from heights or due to slipping or tripping)
- Being struck by an object
- Getting caught in or between objects or equipment
There are also other incidents that can cause bodily harm, some minor and some leading to temporary or permanent disability:
- Vehicle accidents
- Exposure to toxic materials
- Fires or explosions
- Heavy lifting or other overexertion
Despite a steady decline over the last five decades in injury incidents, construction sites are still dangerous places for those who work there. Regardless of safety practices, any of the things on this list can happen. As a result, workers can experience minor injuries like sprains and strains, or may be seriously hurt or even killed.
Types of Injuries in Construction Accidents
As with any accident, whether a car crash or a slip and fall, personal injuries can range from a few bumps and bruises to chronic pain or a debilitating, permanent disability. Just as the types of accidents cover a wide variety of situations, there is also a wide range of possible injuries in construction accidents:
- Cuts, scrapes, and lacerations
- Sprains and strains
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Respiratory issues
- Mesothelioma (asbestos cancer)
- Eye injuries or blindness
- Scars or disfigurement
All of these injuries will require some level of medical assistance. This may include emergency services, surgery, hospital stays, doctor visits, medication, physical therapy, etc. These costs will add up quickly, so it is important to get full compensation.
Navigating Workers Compensation
Construction accidents fall under the rules of workers’ compensation, as long as there is an employee/employer relationship between the victim and the contractor or construction company at the time of the incident.
Employers are liable for all injuries to their employees while they are on the clock. Filing a workers comp claim for a work-related injury is different from filing a claim with an insurance company for something like a car accident. The major differences are:
- The only way to receive compensation is by filing a claim. An employee can appeal a claim that is denied. They can not, however, sue their employer, even if they feel that a settlement amount is inadequate.
- Unlike in a car accident or slip and fall, there does not need to be any negligence. In fact, an employee can often collect even if the incident was partly their fault. Exceptions can include if the employee was intoxicated, committing a crime, or disobeying policies when the accident happened.
- The injury must be related to the employee’s work for the employer. Breaching company policy, inadequate training, or defective equipment can all affect a settlement amount, either for or against the employee.
- Victims can not receive compensation for pain, suffering, or emotional distress—something that is often included in a typical personal injury claim.
Victims are allowed to hire an attorney to represent them in a workers’ compensation case. This is a good idea since the process can be confusing, especially while trying to recover and heal from an injury.
Hiring an Attorney for a Construction Accident Claim
Lawyers do many of the same things in workers’ compensation cases that they do in other personal injury cases. They will help gather evidence and incident reports, conduct interviews and depositions, calculate a settlement amount, and file all of the necessary paperwork.
Workers’ compensation claims can be tricky because the rules depend on the state where the accident happened. Railroad, postal, and maritime workers are the exception; those industries are covered by federal law.
Hipskind & McAninch represent workers’ compensation cases in both Illinois and Missouri, and the laws are quite similar. In both states, workers comp covers medical bills. And employees can collect ⅔ of their regular pay while away from work. After a victim has reached “maximum medical improvement” (MMI), they may be eligible for disability benefits.
There are differences between the two states, for example, the number of weeks of pay received for a disfigurement. And Missouri covers travel expenses associated with medical care. But Illinois pays for vocational rehabilitation to train for a new job if a victim is no longer capable of doing what they did before.
Not only do state laws differ, but they are subject to change at any time. An experienced attorney will know how best to represent a case based on the most current information.
When to File a Lawsuit
While employee injury settlements are governed by workers’ compensation rules, there are some instances when a construction accident could lead to a lawsuit.
Sometimes, there is a third party who is at least partly responsible for the accident. This could include tool or equipment manufacturers whose products fail or malfunction. Engineers may be held accountable for faulty plans and design flaws. Any non-employees on or near a construction site—pedestrians, delivery people, clients doing a site visit—might do something to cause an accident that endangers a worker.
In all of these cases, the employee can seek compensation from the third party in addition to their workers’ compensation claim with their employer. In those cases, they also have the right to request damages for pain and suffering.
When a non-employee visitor or a bystander is hurt in a construction site, they too can file an insurance claim and potentially a lawsuit for their injuries. These would be handled like a regular personal injury case against whoever was responsible for their harm, such as the developer, owner of the property, or the construction company—provided they can prove negligence.
Getting Full Compensation for Construction Accidents
If you have been injured at your construction job and need to file a workers’ compensation claim, contact Hipskind & McAninch. With experience in both Illinois and Missouri, the firm will make sure that your claim gets the attention it deserves, and that you get the settlement you need.