Construction Worker Injuries in North Carolina
Construction sites are dangerous places. The work is very physical. Construction workers also are often required to use powerful machinery, climb to great heights or work on roadsides where traffic accidents may occur. Unfortunately, because of the inherent nature of the work, construction workers face a serious risk of injuries on the job.
If you are a construction worker who was hurt at work, you may be coping with serious medical problems, ongoing pain and financial worries due to missed work and medical bills. North Carolina laws provide a number of protections for construction workers who are harmed at work. It is important that you understand your rights under these laws.
Allow a lawyer from Hardison & Cochran to examine your case and help you to determine whether filing a workers’ compensation claim and/or a third-party liability lawsuit is appropriate in your case. We can conduct this case review for free. Simply call us today at (800) 434-8399 or fill out our online form to learn more. We respond to all inquiries within 24 hours.
Types of Injuries on Construction Sites
There are many different risks that construction workers face on the job. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the top causes of injuries on construction sites, which include:
- Falling from heights – A worker may fall from a building, scaffolding or piece of machinery to the ground below. Workers can also fall into holes or ditches on construction sites.
- Trench collapse – When a trench collapses, a worker’s air supply can be cut off, and the worker can be buried alive or suffer crushing injuries.
- Collapsed scaffolding – OSHA has strict rules to ensure the safety and stability of scaffolding, but things can still go wrong, causing a worker to plunge to his death or to fall and sustain serious injury.
- Electric shock and or arc flash/blast – Working with generators, power tools, machinery and electrical wiring all put construction workers at risk of suffering electrical burns.
- Failure to use appropriate protective gear – Hardhats, safety glasses and other personal protective equipment should always be worn on construction sites to prevent injury.
- Repetitive motion injuries – When the body is repeatedly asked to do the same things again and again, the muscles and soft tissues can become worn and damaged, limiting mobility and causing pain.
In addition to these top injury causes, workers on a construction site could also be hurt as a result of traffic accidents, a ladder’s collapse, malfunctioning tools or equipment, errors made by other workers and accidents with tools or machinery.
Workers on construction sites who experience these or other accidents can sustain a variety of serious injuries, including:
- Eye injury, including vision impairment or blindness
- Broken bones
- Knee and ankle injury
- Neck, shoulder or back injury
- Spinal cord injury, including damage that can cause paraplegia or quadriplegia
- Illnesses caused by toxic chemical exposure
- Head injury and/or brain injury.
In the most tragic of cases, the injuries sustained by the construction worker will be fatal.
Options Available for Injured Construction Workers
When you sustain an injury on a construction site, your medical bills need to be paid. You may also need to take time off from work, switch to a less physically demanding job or even stop working permanently as a result of your injuries. The costs of medical bills and lost income can be significant and can cause financial disaster.
However, the laws in North Carolina are meant to ensure that workers are not bankrupted by an injury sustained on the job. Those hurt in a construction accident in North Carolina have two possible options for obtaining compensation:
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Virtually all employers are required to buy workers’ compensation insurance for employees. These policies cover workers who sustain a work injury for any reason.
If you are hurt while doing your job, your injury is covered whether it happened at your normal place of work or anywhere else that you had to be. This is true even if your employer wasn’t negligent. It is also true even if you made mistakes that caused your workplace injury, as long as you weren’t violating company policy or intoxicated.
Workers’ compensation provides payment of your medical costs. It also covers lost wages and provides you with disability benefits if you are either permanently or temporarily disabled. If you cannot work at all, then you are eligible for total disability benefits. If you have to switch to a lower paying job because you are put on restricted duty, you can receive partial disability benefits to make up for some of the money lost due to your forced job change. In the event that death occurs, surviving dependents can also receive death benefits through workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation is the only way to take action against your employer. You cannot sue your employer for a work injury. However, the coverage provided is broad, and you can make a workers’ compensation claim for acute injuries caused by an accident, repetitive stress injuries or illness due to toxic exposure.
Third-Party Lawsuit Claims
If someone other than your employer did something that led to your construction accident, you may be able to sue. For example, if there was an architect involved and overseeing the project, and the architect’s negligence led to your injury, then you may have a third-party lawsuit claim. If a tool or machine was defective, then you may have a third-party lawsuit clam against the manufacturer of the bad machine.
Third-party lawsuit claims let you obtain compensation not available through workers’ compensation, such as payment for pain and suffering. However, you’ll need to show either negligence or that a product, machine or tool was defective when used as intended in order to successfully make a third-party claim.
How Our Attorneys Can Help Injured Construction Workers
If you or a loved one was hurt while performing work in a construction job, a lawyer from Hardison & Cochran can provide you with comprehensive legal representation. We can help you to:
- Determine whether to file a workers’ compensation or third-party liability claim (or both)
- Deal with the workers’ compensation insurer if the bills aren’t being paid, if there is a dispute over medical coverage or if the insurer tries to force you back to work too early
- Gather evidence to prove your eligibility for compensation
- Keep your claim moving forward
- Appeal a workers’ compensation claim denial
- Negotiate a settlement if there is a dispute over benefits
- File a third-party lawsuit in court and/or negotiate a settlement with a responsible third party
These are just some of the many services that our lawyers provide to clients across North Carolina. To learn more about how we can assist you after your construction accident, give us a call today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. You will pay no attorney fees unless we secure compensation for you.
- Construction, Occupational Safety & Health Administration