Construction jobs come with the understood risk of injury. A Band-Aid and some Tylenol might be enough to fix most of them. Others however, require far more attention. Serious injuries can put you out of work for an extended period of time and have you accumulating medical bills that you did not anticipate paying.
What Should I Do If I Am Injured at Work?
If you get injured at work, you must first seek medical attention and then report the incident to your employer right away.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
The most important thing is to get medical attention. Injuries that may not be immediately obvious could create serious and even long-term injuries, such as:
- Head, neck, or spinal injuries;
- Brain trauma;
- Internal bleeding;
- Lung damage;
- Hearing loss;
- Eye injuries; or
- Joint and muscle damage.
You might not feel symptoms from some injuries for days or even weeks. You need to seek treatment immediately and begin making a medical record to recover compensation for your medical bills and lost wages.
It is essential that you keep records of everything for a possible workers’ compensation claim or future litigation. You must have documentation of a causal connection between your injury and the accident. If you wait too long to seek medical attention, you may not be able to prove that your injuries are directly connected to your accident at work.
Report the Accident
You must report the accident to your supervisor or employer as soon as possible. Your employer should have a procedure in place to handle these situations. If you have to make any sort of written statement, ask for a copy for yourself. Make a record of the date you made the report, who took your report, and what they did with it. Do not sign any documents that ask you to give up any of your rights or accept any settlements without speaking to an attorney first.
Be Your Own Investigator
As soon as possible after you are injured, you should begin gathering any information about the accident. Collect contact information for all the witnesses. Take photos of the scene of the accident, any equipment involved, your injuries, any property damage, damage to the clothing you were wearing, etc. Preserve any evidence available. You should also get the contact information for your employer’s insurance company.
How Am I Going to Pay These Medical Bills?
Medical bills become expensive extremely quickly. Depending on how serious your injuries are, you may need ongoing medical care such as physical therapy, medication, and surgeries. You will likely miss some work or even be unable to work for an extended period. Some people are hesitant to initiate claims for compensation because they do not want to burden their employers, or they fear retaliation. Your employer has workers’ compensation insurance for exactly this reason.
What Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Workers’ compensation insurance is insurance that your employer maintains to protect itself when employees injure themselves on the job. Most construction companies are legally required to have this kind of insurance.
Employers who are enrolled in workers’ compensation coverage cannot be sued by their employees for work-related injuries. Their employees can usually recover most of their financial losses due to medical bills and time lost working because of their work-related injury. The employee’s injury must not have happened due to his or her own negligence or misconduct or while they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Employers cannot retaliate against their employees for filing valid workers’ compensation claims.
How Do I Make a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Once you have received the initial medical attention for your injury and reported the accident to your employer, you need to begin your workers’ compensation claim. Generally you have a year from the date of the accident to file your claim. In Washington you would file with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, also referred to as L&I. In Oregon you would file with the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Division.
Within 30 days, you must see a doctor that is covered by your employer’s insurance policy. After that time, you should be able to visit any doctor you wish. You must also agree to an independent medical exam (IME) by a doctor chosen by the insurance company. Workers’ compensation claims are no-fault, meaning you do not have to prove that your employer was liable or negligent.
What Is a Third-Party Claim?
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation will not cover all your expenses from your work-related injury. The workers compensation insurance will cover most of your medical bills and lost wages, but the insurance companies will try to minimize their payouts as much as possible. Third-party claims can fill these gaps.
Though you cannot sue your employer, you may be able to recover damages such as pain and suffering or emotional trauma from a third party such as a general contractor, subcontractor, material supplier, product manufacturer, or landowner. You will need to prove that their negligence caused your injury, and you must start a third-party claim within three years of your injury.
Why Should I Hire a Construction Site Accident Attorney?
Trying to figure out the claims process or initiating litigation can be intimidating and confusing on your own, as this is not something you do every day. The insurance company does not want to pay you. Any third parties that might have some liability do not want to pay you. Pretty much every entity involved will likely have their own attorneys as well. You are going to need a lawyer with personal injury experience, specifically with construction accidents.
A lawyer can help you determine the value of your claim based on your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. They will help you understand your rights and help you get your documentation in order. Most importantly, a lawyer can protect you from being taken advantage of or losing your legal rights.
D’Amore Law Group Can Help
At D’Amore Law Group, we have the experience you need to litigate a successful claim. We understand the stress of dealing with a serious injury and of losing time at work. We have the resources to fight the insurance companies for as long as is necessary. We have a history of successful recovery for victims of construction site accidents and their families. We will fight for you from day one. Contact us as soon as possible for a case evaluation.