When you are working on a construction site, you know about the number of dangers you encounter daily. Debris on the ground, loose wiring, and heavy machinery can cause injuries from minor such as burns and scratches to catastrophic ones such as amputation and even death.
Treating a major injury can be a harrowing experience, as it might mean multiple trips to the doctor along with tests, treatments, and therapy sessions. These experiences cost money, and as your medical bills increase, it is likely that you are not working or taking in income.
Fortunately, there are options to help you recoup these losses of money and income. Workers’ Compensation is a required insurance that most companies are required to carry that will help defray those rising costs. However, although Workers’ Compensation can be straightforward, it does have its limits. It does not cover everything.
There are instances in which a third party can be held liable for your accident. It could be faulty manufacturing in the machine that injured you, or a lack of signage about an unsafe work area. In these instances, you can file a third-party personal injury suit and seek compensation from that entity.
If you are unsure about what your options are after a construction accident, speaking with a lawyer can help you determine the next best step. They can evaluate your case and decide if there is enough evidence to move forward on a third-party liability case. They will also be able to assist if you are encountering trouble in making your Workers’ Compensation claim.
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What Are the Main Causes of Accidents at Construction Sites?
There are dangers throughout a construction site, and many can be deadly if not handled correctly. A significant number of people are killed every year in construction site accidents. The industry has highlighted four accident types that are the deadliest. These have earned the moniker of the Fatal Four. They are:
- Being Struck By An Object
- Electrocutions Or Burns
- Being Caught In Or Between Machinery
They lead to hundreds of deaths per year, although they are by no means the only cause of work site injuries. There are other causes as well, including a lack of safety gear, falling debris, lack of proper fencing, and defective stairs, among others.
Given the wide range of accidents that you can encounter when working on a construction site, it can lead to several injuries from mild to severe. They include:
- Muscle Sprains
- Internal Bleeding
- Broken Bones
- Loss Of Limbs
- Loss Of Hearing
- Chest Injuries
- Back Injuries, Especially From Lifting Heavy Equipment
- Head Injuries, Including Concussions And Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Repetitive Motion Injuries
- Brain Injuries
Although these injuries can result in an increase in medical bills and lead to long-lasting physical, emotional, and mental distress, there are several options at your disposal that will allow you to receive compensation for your injuries. Although this will not help you recover faster from those injuries, it will ease your mind about the financial implications of your injury.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
All companies are required to carry Workers’ Compensation. It is designed to protect workers who are injured while on the job. Regardless of the circumstances of the accident, employees are entitled to receive Workers’ Compensation. In exchange for receiving it, the worker agrees not to file a claim against their employer for pain and suffering and other such miscellaneous claims unless the injury was the cause of a deliberate act.
Workers’ Compensation is a national program; however, it is administered at the state level. That means that not all states handle the benefit the same. Certain things are covered in one state that are not covered in another. New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation includes:
- Medical Costs: Regardless of the extent of your injuries, you should seek medical help. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may need surgery, tests, or ongoing rehabilitation. Workers’ compensation will reimburse you for these expenses. Keep a record of all your visits with receipts and the doctor’s notes.
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits: When your injury keeps you out of work for more than seven days, you can receive benefits at a rate of 70 percent of your average weekly wage. You should receive an amount equivalent to between 20 and 75 percent of the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW). You will continue to receive this when you are out of work and seeking medical treatment for your injury.
- Permanent Partial Benefits: If you suffer a permanent disability, you could be entitled to a certain level of compensation. There is no set amount on how much you could receive, but a lawyer will help you determine the amount if you are eligible.
- Permanent Total Benefits: Your workers’ compensation will run for up to 450 weeks if you are unable to return to work. If after that period you are still unable to return to work, you will have to prove that, and the state will continue to compensate you for your injuries. The calculation for this amount is the same as that for the temporary total disability benefits. You are eligible for this benefit if you have lost a body part or sustained such a traumatic injury that it renders you unable to work.
- Death Benefits: Family members of those killed in a work-related accident or by an occupational illness are entitled to receive death benefits. They will receive 70 percent of the weekly wage of the deceased worker, but it cannot be greater than the maximum benefit established annually by the labor commissioner.
You will continue to receive your Workers’ Compensation until you return to work or achieve maximum medical improvement (MMI). That means medical treatment can no longer improve your condition.
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What Should You Do After a Work Accident?
When you have been injured at work, the first thing to do is seek medical attention as soon as possible. To receive Worker’s Compensation, you must see a doctor who has been pre-approved by your company. It may not be your own personal physician.
It is important that you report the injury to your supervisor as quickly as possible. If you do not need a doctor right away, report the injury afterward. If you need immediate medical attention, report the accident as soon as possible. Once the report has been filed, your employer can begin the process of signing you up for Workers’ Compensation.
For your own protection, gather evidence about your accident such as photos of the location where you were hurt and the circumstances that caused your accident. You should also obtain the statements and contact information for any witnesses to the accident. This is in case your employer or their insurance is attempting to block you from receiving your benefits. Also collect your timecard to prove that you were at work at the time of the accident.
What Is a Third-Party Liability Claim?
Worker’s Compensation may provide you with compensation regardless of how you were hurt at work. However, it will not cover everything. There are limits. If you want to seek full compensation for your losses plus an additional settlement, you will have to file a third-party claim.
You cannot file a claim against your employer unless the injury was the result of a deliberate action. However, if you can prove negligence by a third party contributed to your accident, you can file a claim against that entity. New Jersey law allows you to file a claim against another party if you can demonstrate their liability in the case.
What Are Examples of Third-Party Litigation Cases?
Third-party litigation cases can arise from several circumstances. Those include:
- Car Accident: If you were involved in a car accident while you are on a work-related errand, such as transporting material to a site or taking care of something for your boss, you can file for workers’ compensation. However, you might be able to file a personal injury claim, depending on the circumstances.
- Faulty Equipment: If faulty equipment caused your accident, you might have a case against the manufacturer of the machine because they created the error in its operations.
- Defective Product: Similar to the faulty product, the manufacturer could make a mistake in the manufacturing of a machine that could lead to a failure that pose dangerous to the operator.
- Subcontractors: If a subcontractor is working at your office or onsite and their actions led to the accident that caused your injuries, since they do not work directly for your company, you might have a case against that individual.
- Dangerous Design: There are accidents that are caused by the defective design of the machine you are working on or the machine you are operating.
- Property Hazard: If you were working on someone else’s property and a hazard caused your accident, you might have a claim. A hazard could be debris on the field or a slippery floor.
- $1 MPedestrian Accident
- $845 KCommercial Truck Accident
- $275 KSlip and Fall Accident
How Are Workers’ Compensation and Third-Party Claims Different?
There are benefits and drawbacks to both Workers’ Compensation and a third-party claim. It may be difficult to determine which option will yield the more agreeable compensation. The good news is you can file a third-party claim as you move forward with your Workers’ Compensation. The two can be seen as separate. However, should you receive a settlement on your third-party case, you may be required to reimburse your employer for the Workers’ Compensation benefits they have already paid out.
If you are unsure of which option is better, you can work with a construction accident lawyer who will look over your situation and make a recommendation on your best course of action.
One of the benefits of Workers’ Compensation is the lack of obstacles you will have to face before you start receiving payments. Since New Jersey is a no-fault state, it means the details of what led to your accident are irrelevant. Even if you bear responsibility for what happened, you are still entitled to compensation.
In a third-party case, however, you will have to demonstrate that the negligence of another party caused the accident that led to your injuries. If you were responsible for any aspect of your accident, it could hurt your case in a third-party claim.
Although it may be more difficult to prove a third-party liability claim, the compensation is more thorough. When you file a third-party claim, you are entitled to similar compensation as you receive through Workers’ Compensation, including compensation for your medical expenses and your lost wages. However, Workers’ Compensation will pay only for a portion of those expenses, whereas in a third-party case, you may receive full compensation. In addition, you can also claim pain and suffering as well as punitive damages in a third-party claim.
Finally, the death benefits for your family are far more comprehensive in a third-party liability claim. Your family will be paid for the loss of companionship and for a full lifetime of financial support. Workers’ Compensation has limits in the amount offered and time on when those payments end.
You have two years from the date of the accident to file a third-party claim in New Jersey. If you did not realize that your injury was caused by a workplace accident, your two-year window begins on the date that you discovered your injury was caused by the accident.
Perth Amboy Construction Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Will Help You Get the Benefits You Deserve
It can be devasting when you are injured at work as you fear for the security of you and your family. You have options ahead of you, including Workers’ Compensation. Although that might be an attractive choice, it is by no means your only option. Speaking to the Perth Amboy construction accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr can advise you on your best course of action. We will stand up to your lawyer or a liable third party to ensure you get the compensation package you deserve. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-537-8570 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.