Many construction sites are accidents just waiting to happen. Every day, dozens or even hundreds of workers enter into these dangerous environments filled with heavy equipment, power tools, scaffolding, ladders, holes in the ground, and piles of raw materials. When you factor in the tight schedules and restricted budgets of many construction projects, the potential for injury escalates. Despite numerous advances in safety measures over the years, construction accidents are still far too common. In fact, construction work is always near the top of any list of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S.
If you are injured on a construction site, it can be a confusing and overwhelming situation. Keep in mind that you are more than likely entitled to certain legal remedies. However, it is critical to protect your legal rights is by taking the proper steps as well as by hiring an experienced construction accident lawyer to represent you.
At Drake & Collopy, P.C., we have over 5 decades of collective experience fighting for the rights of those injured in job site accidents including construction accidents. We recently recovered $3.25 million on behalf of an ironworker who was struck by a falling bag of tools and suffered a serious cervical spine injury during the construction of a power plant in southern Illinois.
Steps to Take After a Construction Site Accident
After a construction accident occurs, there are a number of important steps to follow to ensure your legal rights are protected. Even though your boss or the construction foreman may seem like a friend, it is ultimately the responsible insurance companies who you (and your attorney) will have to battle with for compensation. You do not want to give the insurance companies the upper hand or ammunition to deny your claims by making critical errors. Some of the things you should do immediately after a construction accident include:
- Report the accident to your supervisor, foreman, or boss
- Ensure that an accident report is made and that it accurately describes your accident and injuries
- Take photos of the accident scene, relevant equipment, etc., and your injuries
- Preserve any relevant evidence pertaining to your accident, i.e., surveillance video
- Identify any witnesses to your accident and obtain contact information for those witnesses
- Seek medical attention for your injuries right away
- Make sure to tell your medical providers exactly how your injuries occurred
- Be very careful about your public activities and posting via social media. Anything you do in public or post via social media can be used against you to minimize your claim.
- Contact our legal team to discuss your situation
Various Legal Remedies Available to Construction Site Accident Victims
If you are injured while working on an Illinois construction site, you may have one or both of the following types of claims:
A workers’ compensation claim is a statutory remedy for an on-the-job injury. You are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you were an employee on the date of the accident and the accident arose out of and occurred in the course of your employment. You are not required to prove fault on the part of anyone to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits; rather, it is considered a “no-fault” claim. However, you are not allowed to sue your employer (or a co-employee) for negligence due to the “exclusive remedy” provisions of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Workers’ compensation claims are covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, and they are administrative proceedings overseen by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.
After an on-the-job injury, you are entitled to recover a number of different types of benefits. Based on your situation and the nature and extent of your injuries, the workers’ compensation benefits you may be entitled to include:
- Temporary Total Disability: If you cannot work for three days or more because of the injury, you are entitled to receive temporary disability benefits while you are medically unable to work. In Illinois, you will receive 2/3 of the average weekly wage you earned in the 52 weeks prior to the accident. Workers’ compensation carriers frequently miscalculate these benefits or fail to include eligible overtime wages or earnings from a second job.
- Medical bills and expenses: The Workers’ Compensation Act requires your employer pay for all reasonable and necessary medical costs related to your on-the-job accident. This includes (but is not limited to) hospital care, rehabilitation, surgery, equipment, medications, and more. You are entitled to seek medical care from your own physicians (with limitations) and are not required to treat with company doctors or clinics.
- Permanent Partial Disability: Injured workers who are able to return to their jobs are entitled to receive benefits based on the severity, nature, and extent of the injuries. These benefits are based on a percentage loss of use of the particular body part(s) (or the person as a whole) using formulas established in the Workers’ Compensation Act. They are subject to many different factors and are usually the biggest area of disagreement, negotiation, and litigation between the injured worker and the insurance company. These are typically paid on a lump sum basis upon settlement of the case.
- Vocational rehabilitation: If the injury you suffered at work prevents you from performing your job duties, you may be entitled to receive vocational rehabilitation benefits to identify suitable employment opportunities given your physical restrictions. You may also be entitled to receive maintenance benefits during this process after being discharged by your physicians.
- Wage Differential: For more serious injuries with permanent restrictions that prevent you from returning to work but allow you to return to a lower-paying job, you may be entitled to a wage differential that is equivalent to 2/3 of the difference between what you would have made if you were not injured and your new average weekly wage up to the age of 67. They are subject to many different factors and are generally a major source of disagreement, negotiation, and litigation between the injured worker and the insurance company. These are typically paid on a lump sum basis upon settlement of the case.
- Permanent Total Disability: When you reach maximum medical improvement, if the medical and vocational evidence establishes that you cannot perform work of any kind, or if you lost the use of both eyes, legs, feet, arms, or hands, you may be considered permanently and totally disabled. These cases typically involve the most serious injuries. If you are awarded permanent total disability benefits, you are entitled to receive benefits for the rest of your life (or in a lump sum settlement agreement).
- Death benefits: If a member of your family was killed on the job, it may be possible to recover death benefits. The benefits include medical expenses, burial expenses up to $8,000, and up to 2/3 of your deceased loved one’s average weekly wage during the 52 weeks prior to the accident.
A third-party personal injury claim is a civil remedy for damages caused by the negligent or wrongful conduct of another. As mentioned above, you are not allowed to bring a third-party personal injury claim against your employer or a co-employee. If, however, your accident was caused by the negligence or wrongful conduct of another party, such as a general contractor or sub-contractor you are not employed by, you may bring a personal injury claim against the responsible party or parties. The damages you may be entitled to in a third-party personal injury claim are vastly different from those available in a workers’ compensation claim. Those damages include:
- Medical expenses: the cost of all related, reasonable, and necessary medical care, services, and treatment you receive and that you will require in the future.
- Pain and suffering: compensation for the pain you experienced because of the accident and injuries and any future pain and discomfort caused by a permanent condition.
- Lost income: compensation for all lost past and future profits or earnings. This also accounts for commissions, bonuses, fringe benefits, and other types of income you would have received if the injury did not occur.
- Loss of a normal life: if you are rendered disabled due to the accident and injury, you can recover compensation for being unable to participate in your normal life activities.
- Emotional distress: compensation for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health conditions related to the accident and injury.
- Damages for wrongful death: if you have a family member who dies because of an accident or injury, it may be possible to recover for all related medical costs, pain and suffering by the decedent, loss of financial support, loss of companionship or consortium, and funeral and burial costs.
- Loss of consortium of spouse: compensation to a spouse who has lost the services, companionship, or intimacy of the injury victim because of the spouse’s injuries.
- Punitive damages: damages designed to punish someone for reckless or egregious misconduct.
Many construction site accidents involve BOTH a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party personal injury claim. It is therefore crucial to retain attorneys with substantial experience in handling both types of claims in order to maximize your recovery.
How Our Team of Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help with Your Case
When you retain our law firm to handle your construction site injury case, you can count on us to do the following:
- Conduct a complete and thorough investigation of your accident to determine how your injury occurred and who should be held responsible for the injuries you suffered.
- Investigate all potential types of claims, defendants, insurance policies, and avenues of recovery.
- Retain experts from various fields as necessary, including medical experts, engineers, accident reconstructionists, vocational experts, economics experts, and life care planners.
- Give you access to our network of physicians, specialists, and other medical providers who can provide quality medical treatment for your injuries.
- Evaluate your medical records and other relevant records to identify any issues relating to causation or the nature and extent of your injuries.
- Handle all communications and negotiations with the responsible insurance companies.
- Ensure that all documents are filed properly and on time with the appropriate entities.
- Prepare and present a persuasive case in court, at arbitration, or in mediation.
Contact Our Legal Team for Help with Your Construction Site Accident Case
If you are injured in a construction site accident, we are here to help. Our experienced legal team is dedicated to aggressively pursuing those responsible for your injuries in order to recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. Do not hesitate to contact our team of Illinois construction accident lawyers at Drake & Collopy, P.C., to discuss your situation. Our team is ready to put our decades of experience to work for you.