Should I Hire a Construction Accident Attorney?
If you work in construction and suffered injuries in a construction accident, they likely kept you from working and required extensive medical treatment.
You may believe that workers’ compensation will cover you automatically, so you don’t need to get an attorney for help.
That is not the case.
You must follow certain steps within specific timelines to get the compensation you need in the complex and confusing workers’ compensation claims process.
An attorney can help you navigate the legal process, gather evidence, and build a strong case for you. They can also negotiate with insurance companies and other parties so you receive fair compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, lost income, and other damages. A lawyer can also file an appeal if your employer or the insurance company denies your claim.
An attorney can also file a third-party claim against a general contractor, subcontractor, or other entity that caused your injuries.
If you don’t know whether to hire an attorney, consult a few different lawyers to discuss your case and get their advice. Most construction accident attorneys offer free consultations, so you can get a better idea of whether you have a case and what options you have available.
The Construction Industry Is Dangerous
Working in construction is inherently dangerous. You routinely work at heights and around heavy equipment and machinery that can injure you. You can also sustain lifting injuries and other harm from simply conducting your work duties. Additionally, you could slip, trip, or fall on uneven surfaces, electrical cords, and other items.
In fact, Advisor Smith claims that nearly half of the 25 most dangerous jobs in America are in the construction industry.
Some occupations that see the largest number of construction accident injuries include:
- Construction helpers
- Construction supervisors
- Crane and construction equipment operators
- Cement masons
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the private construction industry in California had the highest rate of workplace fatalities in one recent year, with 79 construction workers losing their lives.
What Are Common Types of Construction Accidents?
Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates and enforces safety regulations in the workplace, construction accidents still happen. Employers may cut corners or disregard safety regulations place their workers at risk, but many construction accidents happen as the result of carelessness, human error, or neglect.
Some common types of construction accidents include:
- Falls. Falls are the leading cause of death in construction accidents, and they kill or injure thousands of construction workers each year. Falls can result from unmarked ledges or openings in scaffolding and platforms, lack of secure handrails, or from slippery surfaces, cluttered floors, debris, and other hazards. Many workers fall from ladders or into open trenches or excavation spaces, and many falls would not have happened if the employer properly trained the worker and provided the necessary safety equipment.
- Struck by objects. Falling objects or equipment, including tools, machinery, and materials, can strike construction workers.
- Electrocution: Electrical injuries can occur when workers come into contact with live wires, faulty equipment, or power lines.
- Caught in or between objects. Workers can sustain an injury or die when caught between heavy machinery, materials, or other objects.
- Faulty or malfunctioning equipment. Construction accidents can also occur if equipment or machinery fails or malfunctions. Depending on the nature of the accident and the equipment involved, malfunctioning machinery can cause serious, even fatal injuries.
Construction workers and employers must prevent these injuries by providing appropriate safety equipment, training workers on proper safety protocols, and following Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. If you sustained injuries and your employer or contractor did not follow OSHA regulations, speak with an attorney about your options for filing a third-party negligence claim against them.
Common Construction Accident Injuries
Construction accidents can cause workers to suffer a wide range of injuries, from relatively mild to catastrophic and life-threatening.
Some of the most common construction accident injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back injuries
- Burn injuries
- Crushing injuries
- Deep cuts and lacerations
- Internal organ damage
Workers can also suffer repetitive motion injuries. Repetitive tasks, such as using vibrating machinery or performing assembly line work, can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Also, lifting heavy objects or constantly twisting or bending can lead to overexertion injuries, such as strains, sprains, and back injuries.
Along with physical injuries from construction accidents, construction workers can suffer respiratory issues if exposed to hazardous substances, such as asbestos or silica. Toxic exposure can lead to severe respiratory illnesses, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and silicosis. Construction workers often perform their duties outdoors in hot weather, which can lead to heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke.
Workers’ compensation covers work-related illnesses as well as injuries, so you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you contracted a serious illness from working in construction.
Although workers’ compensation covers most construction workers who work for construction companies, it may not cover self-employed general contractors and subcontractors. Also, even if you are an employee of a construction company, your injuries may have resulted from defective equipment or machinery, or some other cause not directly connected to your employer. Although you cannot pursue a third-party claim against your employer if you obtain workers’ compensation, you can bring a claim against a liable third party to recover damages for your injuries.
If faulty equipment, tools, or machinery caused your injuries, you may file a product liability claim against the product’s manufacturer. You may also file third-party claims against contractors and subcontractors, property owners, and others who contributed to your injuries through their negligence or wrongdoing.
Your attorney can review your case and advise you of your best options for holding all responsible parties accountable. They can also file claims for you within prescribed deadlines and represent you throughout all legal proceedings to help you get the full amount of compensation you deserve.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
An attorney can also handle all dealings with the insurance company for you, particularly if you want to pursue a third-party claim. Insurance companies typically look out for their best interests, not yours. Paying on claims reduces their profits, so they try to deny claims or reduce the amount they have to pay.
An attorney will understand insurance company tactics and can assert your rights and fight with the insurance company to get them to honor your claim and cover your injuries. A lawyer can also negotiate to get you the maximum compensation allowed under the law.
Never accept an initial settlement offer from an insurance company without consulting a lawyer, and should defer all communications to your attorney. Your lawyer will know how to respond to the insurance company and can serve as a zealous advocate for you to improve your odds of a successful outcome.
Choosing the Right Construction Accident Attorney for You
You have a lot at stake trying to obtain the benefits and compensation you need for your construction accident injuries, and you can benefit greatly from having an attorney represent you throughout the process. You also have a lot of choices of construction accident attorneys, and you want to ensure you get the best representation possible.
Ultimately, which attorney to hire is a personal decision that depends on your specific circumstances and needs. Choose someone with experience handling construction accident cases, who you feel comfortable working with and who you trust will take an active interest in your case.
The construction accident attorneys at Bentley & More have decades of combined experience representing clients throughout Newport Beach, Orange County, and the surrounding areas of Southern California. Our attorneys have earned consistent top rankings, honors, and awards for our professionalism and client service. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
We are fully committed to you and making sure you have everything you need to deal with your injuries and recover as fully as possible. Contact our law firm today at (949) 617-0938 for a free review of your case and advice regarding your options.