What Happens if a Construction Worker Gets Hurt on the Job?

If you’ve been injured as a construction worker, consider all your options for recovery

By Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on June 28, 2022

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Construction sites can be hazardous workplaces. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists four leading causes of injury in the construction industry:

  • Falling from heights
  • Getting struck by falling objects or heavy equipment
  • Getting caught in heavy machinery or excavation trenches
  • Electrocution

Construction injuries can lead to costly medical treatment, time away from work, and even permanent disabilities. This article will cover some of your options if you have been injured on the job site and point you to legal help.

Options for Injured Construction Workers

If you are a construction worker who has experienced a work-related injury, you have a couple of basic options to pursue a claim.

Workers’ Compensation

First, you could file a workers’ compensation claim.

State laws require most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Generally speaking, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you can show:

  • You are an employee of a company
  • You were injured in the course of working for that company

If you can show these two things, workers’ compensation will typically cover medical expenses, lost wages, or disabilities resulting from workplace injuries.

It’s important to realize that specific workers’ compensation requirements vary by state and can be complicated. An experienced construction accident attorney can help you navigate the rules in your state to see if you qualify.

Civil Lawsuit

Second, you could sue.

In a workers’ compensation claim, you don’t have to prove that your employer was at fault for your injuries. You only have to show you worked for the employer and were injured in the course of working for them.

In a civil lawsuit, you do have to show fault. Depending on your situation, you might bring a couple of kinds of cases.

Personal Injury Claim

If your employer’s actions caused your injuries, you might bring a personal injury lawsuit. If you sue for personal injury, you will generally have to show that:

  • Your employer had a duty to reasonably ensure your safety on the work site
  • Your employer failed to do this (by being negligent or reckless)
  • Your employer’s actions caused your injury

Your employer could be at fault for not ensuring your safety in a wide range of situations, including:

  • Negligent operation of equipment
  • Unsafe building materials, scaffolding, or substances
  • Defective power tools
  • No safety equipment

If you win in a personal injury lawsuit, your money damages can cover medical bills as well as lost wages and earning potential. The specific requirements for personal injury vary by state. A lawyer in your area can help you assess if you have a good personal injury claim.

Product Liability

Sometimes when worker injuries occur, it’s not because someone on the job site acted negligently. Sometimes injuries occur because the equipment was poorly designed or manufactured.

In this case, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the equipment or machinery. Generally, proving a product liability claim is similar to proving a personal injury claim. You have to show:

  • You were using the equipment properly
  • But the equipment was designed or manufactured defectively
  • And this defect caused your injury

Proving product liability can be a complex process, depending on the facts of your case and your state’s laws. A construction accident attorney with experience in product liability can help you assess and navigate your potential product liability claim.

Who to Sue

Who you sue will depend on your specific case and the kind of lawsuit you bring.

Many construction projects involve several construction companies. You may work for the general contractor, but several subcontractors may be involved.

One of these subcontractors may have caused your injury. In this case, you would sue the subcontractor.

With product liability, the company that manufactured the faulty equipment is at fault, and you will sue them.

Other times, multiple parties will be at fault. Figuring out who to sue can be complex. A construction accident lawyer can help you figure this out and ensure you get the best possible outcome.

Questions for Your Attorney

If you are a construction worker wondering what your legal options are, the good news is that many attorneys provide free consultations. These meetings are a terrific resource for both attorney and client. The attorney can hear the facts of the case, and the client can see if the lawyer meets their needs.

To decide whether an attorney and their legal team are the right fit, ask informed questions:

  • What is your fee?
  • What billing options do you offer?
  • What is your background as a personal injury lawyer?
  • Have you represented construction accident victims before?
  • Should I sue in addition to claiming worker’s compensation benefits?
  • What are my chances of winning in a personal injury or product liability case?
  • What is the statute of limitations in my situation?
  • What is the likelihood of a settlement in my case?

Finding the Right Attorney for Your Needs

It is essential to approach the right type of attorney—someone who can give you legal help through your entire case. You can visit the Super Lawyers directory and use the search box to find a lawyer based on your legal issue or location. 

For legal advice about a construction accident, consider looking for a lawyer practicing construction litigation.

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