When to Take Legal Action After a Construction Injury
Construction jobs are among the most dangerous professions with one out of every five worker deaths in the U.S. reported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Although construction projects carry an inherent risk, construction companies owe a duty of safety to their employees and passing pedestrians.
Employers, site superintendents, foremen and others must follow OSHA regulations, including:
• Ensuring that employees have safe and maintained tools and equipment
• Understandable safety training and operating procedures
• Color codes, posters, labels and signs to warn employees of worksite hazards
In other words, construction workers have the right to a safe work site, but when and how to pursue a workers’ compensation lawsuit will depend on whether you’re a construction employee or a pedestrian that has become injured on a construction site.
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Benefits Workers Are Entitled to After a Construction Accident
If you’ve been injured at a construction job, whether it involves construction or some other form of job-related injury, you can apply for a workers’ compensation claim as soon as possible after your injury.
Most employers in North Carolina must carry workers’ compensation insurance, which may pay the following depending on your job-related disability:
• Medical bills for your injury treatment
• Disability benefits for as long as you can’t work (covers 66 and 2/3 percent of your average weekly wage)
• Disfigurement benefits of up to $10,000
• Vocational rehabilitation benefits
• Death benefits if you are an eligible survivor
While filing a workers’ compensation claim prevents the individual from suing their employer for their injuries via a personal injury claim, workers’ compensation coverage is considered “no-fault” insurance. It doesn’t matter how you were hurt.
The benefits of a workers’ compensation claim are that you don’t have to prove negligence but merely the fact of injury while completing your duty as an employee.
You also have the right to be free from retaliation by your employer if you file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Your employer can’t fire or demote you simply because you got injured on the job and sought benefits.
What If Your Employer Refuses to Pay?
If your employer refuses to pay, you have the right to file an individual claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. This must be filed within two years of your injury.
You also have the right to appeal if your employer or its insurer denies your claim for workers’ compensation benefits. You should never accept a denial if a workplace injury has prevented you from working for more than a week.
If a contractor or third-party vendor caused your injuries (neither an employer nor a co-worker), you may also have the right to pursue what’s called a third-party injury claim. In this situation, you cannot sue your employer, but the responsible party may be held accountable for your construction injury through a personal injury lawsuit.
Benefits Pedestrians Are Entitled to After a Construction Accident
Filing a personal injury claim is another option available to any individual that sustains a construction injury. However, in order to file a personal injury claim, the lawsuit will likely be rooted in tort law. In other words, you must prove negligence.
In order to prove negligence, there are several elements that you must establish:
• Prove that the construction worker or employer had a duty to not engage in some activity or act in a way that would not bring harm to others.
• The worker or employer had to breach that duty by their actions or failure to act in some way.
• The individual had to sustain an injury as a result of the breach.
• The breach of duty had to have caused the injury.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
The workers’ compensation benefits system in North Carolina can be complex, and employers and their insurers may do little to help an injured worker understand his or her rights. At Campbell & Associates, our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers can provide a free consultation about your case. We will help you navigate the legal system while ensuring that you receive the medical help you need.
Call Campbell & Associates today to speak to one of our qualified workers’ compensation attorneys at 704-333-0885.