Workers who are injured in construction accidents tend to suffer life-changing injuries or disabilities that could leave them unable to work for an extended period of time. The steps you take after a construction accident can be absolutely crucial in terms of determining the amount of compensation you receive for your injuries damages and losses.
Even though construction work is viewed as inherently dangerous and the risk of injury is significantly higher than others, construction workers still have the right to a safe and healthy work environment. If you have been injured in a construction accident, you may be able to seek workers' compensation benefits. However, in many cases, construction workers may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit or third-party claim in addition to seeking workers' comp benefits.
In fact, third-party claims or personal injury lawsuits are worth much more than workers' compensation benefits, especially in cases where workers have been killed on the job or have suffered catastrophic injuries that prevent them from returning to work or making a livelihood. Unlike workers' comp benefits, which only cover medical expenses and a portion of lost wages, third-party claims compensate workers for cost of future treatment and care, pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of earning capacity among other damages.
Regardless of your specific situation, here are some of the steps you should take after a construction accident injury to make sure you are fairly compensated for your losses.
Seek Prompt Medical Attention
If you have been injured in a construction accident, one of your first priorities should be to seek prompt medical attention, treatment and care. You should do so even if you believe your injuries may be minor. This is because, in many cases, symptoms of serious injuries may not surface for hours or even days after you suffer the injury.
Getting care right away for your injuries is the most important step to putting you on the road to recovery. When you do so, it will also serve as proof that you sought medical attention without delay – information that will serve you well whether you file a workers' compensation claim, construction accident lawsuit, or both. So, seeking prompt medical attention will not only put you on the road to recovery but also make sure there is a record and documentation of the type of injuries you suffered in the construction accident as well as the treatment you sought.
Notify Your Employer
Once you've sought medical attention and addressed your health concerns, it is important that you report the construction accident to your employer at the earliest. Under California law, you must report your accident to your employer within 30 days of the incident. This kind of prompt reporting serves several purposes.
First, reporting the accident will expedite processing of your workers' compensation claim and avoid any unnecessary delays. Reporting your accident as soon as possible will also add a sense of urgency and validity in the eyes of your employer, their insurance company and anyone who takes a look at your case down the road.
There is also another reason why such prompt reporting of the incident is important. Typically, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to take safety measures when a construction accident occurs. These measures help prevent accidents from occurring and causing more injuries. If employers are not promptly informed about these accidents, they may not be forced to take those steps that might help prevent future injuries. While this may not be relevant to your construction accident claim, it is important for the welfare of those who work at the site.
When you report your accident, be sure to make a written report and get a copy for your records. Be as specific as possible when you talk about what happened. Include every possible detail you can remember. A detailed report can be extremely valuable if a dispute arises about the facts or circumstances of the case down the road.
Gather Relevant Information and Evidence
It is important to gather as much information and evidence as possible about your construction accident. Here is a list of some crucial pieces of information and evidence that could prove valuable:
Eyewitness information: If anyone saw your accident, be sure to get their name and contact information. If you have to go to a hospital right away or if the witness is reluctant to provide their personal information, ask your attorney to help you get that information later.
Photos and video: Take photos and video of the accident scene, which is very easy to do with smartphones these days. This is particularly important if there is evidence such as collapsed scaffolding, malfunctioning equipment of lack of safety devices, which could be lost later. It is also important to get photos and videos of any injuries you and others may have sustained in the accident.
Medical records: It is also very important that you keep track of all medical expenses so that you can be accurately compensated for these expenses later. In addition, it is a good idea to start keeping a journal documenting the impact the accident has had on your everyday life and activities.
Correspondence: You should also maintain a folder with copies of all correspondence with your employer and other parties involved with your case. Take notes if you have any meetings with your employer or representatives of the insurance company with regard to your case.
Contact an Experienced Construction Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a construction accident, you may be able to file a workers' compensation claim. Workers' compensation benefits typically compensate workers for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. However, they can be extremely inadequate if your injuries are major or catastrophic. In such cases, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party.
For example, if you construction accident was caused by a sub-contractor or by the negligence of a property owner, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against those third parties in addition to receiving workers' comp benefits from your employer. Please remember that if you unsuccessful with your workers' compensation claim or your injury lawsuit, you may still be able to file an appeal.
There is no question that suffering injuries in a construction accident can cause significant physical, emotional and financial repercussions. Having an experienced construction accident lawyer on your side during such a challenging time in your life is extremely important if you want to obtain a settlement or verdict to compensate you for the incident.
Our Los Angeles construction accident attorneys have a long and successful track record of protecting the rights of injured workers and their families. We fight hard to help our clients secure maximum compensation for their losses. Call us at (323) 782-0535 to schedule a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.