How Should Construction Workers in New Jersey Handle Accidents?
When construction workers or bystanders are hurt as a result of construction work, there are several things that could occur. Someone who is hurt will need medical care, need to change jobs, or might go on disability. In the worst cases, a construction accident might kill the victim. Working with a New Jersey construction accident lawyer will help victims and their families obtain the full financial recovery that they deserve. These cases can expose negligence on the part of a supervisor, colleague, manufacturer, or municipal authority. Although the victim and family may want to focus on recovery or simply moving forward, they can rely on a lawyer who will litigate the case and determine how to obtain the compensation to which the victim is entitled.
Types of Construction Accidents
Claims after an accident might include a wide variety of injuries. Someone hurt on the job must receive medical attention and assess their injuries. Injured workers should reach out for help from a construction accident lawyer when any of the following injuries occur:
Falling objects: Falling objects are common on construction sites. Erection of those buildings require tools and materials that could fall. Unfortunately, anyone who is struck by these items could be seriously injured or killed. The same is true if a crane or large piece of machinery tips over or falls from a great height.
Slip and fall accidents: These accidents are also common because of slippery walkways, rain, and unsteady scaffolding. Even if a construction worker is wearing a hard hat, it cannot protect them from a serious injury as it flies off and they hit the ground. Pedestrians who are near a construction site might slip on debris that is just outside the construction site. For example, dust from a newly polished marble floor might spread into the street where a pedestrian could slip. Likewise, a worker could slip when a wet floor has not been marked properly.
Fires, explosions, and toxic substances: Fires and explosions can occur when workers are using flammable gases or powerful tools. Workers may also be exposed to toxic substances or chemicals while working on the site, and they may not realize they are sick until many years later.
Asbestos exposure: In the worst cases, victims can be exposed to asbestos on a work site. Asbestos exposure is often uncovered when the victim develops mesothelioma. This particularly aggressive form of cancer is often fatal. The victim or their family must work with a lawyer to recover damages caused by exposure. In most cases, the lawyer will file a claim against an asbestos trust that was set up by companies that have closed or gone bankrupt.
Injuries from defective tools: Defective tools and parts can cause injuries. The manufacturer of the tool may not realize that defective parts were provided as they completed their work. If a tool manufacturer knowingly avoids recalls or sells faulty products, they can be held liable for any injuries or deaths caused by those defective parts or tools. Therefore, victims should document precisely what happened during the accident. A construction accident lawyer can pinpoint the tool that malfunctioned, the manufacturer, and even the part that failed.
Electric shocks: Electric shocks are common on construction sites because standing water and exposed wires are often left to connect with one another. If the victim uses a tool with a frayed wire, they could receive a shock. Someone who is standing in water might be electrocuted when a live wire touches the water, or a pedestrian could be electrocuted if they step in an electrified puddle near a work site.
Motor vehicle accidents: Although construction sites are static, they have vehicles entering and exiting the site throughout the day. If a worker is injured by a moving vehicle, they may have a claim against an errant driver or the manufacturer of the faulty vehicle.
Injuries from negligence: If a supervisor, co-worker, or third party was negligent in their duties, which caused an employee to be injured, the victim should consult with a lawyer right away.
Am I Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Although Workers’ Compensation should be offered to employees, independent contractors who are hurt on a random worksite are not covered. These victims can file suit if the corporation managing the site was negligent, if a part or tool manufacturer was negligent, or if a co-worker/supervisor was negligent. Someone who is covered by Workers’ Compensation cannot sue their employer, but victims can sue third parties who may have played a part in the accident. If Workers’ Compensation insurance claims are not filed correctly, the employee should reach out to a lawyer who can determine who is liable for the accident, if Workers’ Compensation precludes a lawsuit against the employer in this instance, or if Workers’ Compensation insurance has been provided properly.
Who is Liable for My Accident?
An accident may occur as a result of the negligence of a co-worker, supervisor, tool manufacturer, parts manufacturer, or the corporation. Because these individuals have caused grievous injuries or even deaths, they can be held accountable for the accident. Someone who acts with malicious intent may also be investigated by the local authorities.
Supervisors are responsible for the intake and maintenance of parts and tools. A supervisor might have known that the tools or parts used on the site were not in compliance with the local building codes or standards of the industry. If that supervisor knowingly allowed workers to use substandard equipment, they could be held liable for the accident. Additionally, a supervisor might force an unprepared or unfit worker to perform a task that someone else should do. For example, someone who is not trained to use a certain tool might be told to get the job done as quickly as possible with no assistance. When the worker is injured because of the supervisor’s negligence, the supervisor should be named in a lawsuit.
Colleagues might also engage in horseplay at work that cause accidents. In the worst cases, someone could be hurt because of people who are acting inappropriately. The corporation or insurance company might even believe that the injured worker was involved. The victim should speak to a lawyer to ensure that their claim is not invalidated because of a colleague’s negligent or cavalier behavior.
The manufacturer of a part, tool, or vehicle may be responsible for the accident if they were aware of defects in their products. A lawyer can investigate the manufacturers involved in the accident to ensure that they provided safe and reliable products. Even the manufacturer of a single malfunctioning part in a machine that caused serious injuries or deaths should be held accountable.
Common Construction Accident Injuries
Construction accidents can cause a wide range of injuries. Workers may mistakenly believe that these injuries are just a part of the job. However, injured workers must report their injuries and take them seriously. Even someone who is not protected by Workers’ Compensation insurance must report their injuries and seek treatment to create a timeline for the accident. Construction workers and passersby need to be aware of how they could be hurt and the level of treatment that is required.
- Cuts: Cuts and scrapes are often seen as small problems that can be solved with a bandage. However, construction workers or innocent bystanders must have their cuts and scrapes checked by a doctor. These wounds could become infected, and they may be so painful that it is difficult to work.
- Burns: Burns can also become infected, and they should be treated with great care. Those areas will need extensive treatment if it is difficult to move, sleep, or concentrate.
- Broken bones: Broken bones are not always obvious. Although someone with a broken arm or leg will be rushed to the emergency room, someone with a broken toe or finger may not realize there is an issue. Victims should report these injuries and seek medical care.
- Internal damage: Internal injuries, including organ damage and internal bleeding, must be taken seriously. Anyone who has been wounded could have internal bleeding, even if it looks as though they appear to be uninjured. Therefore, it is important to go to the doctor immediately after the accident.
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss is often a gradual process that workers might experience when they are not wearing earplugs and work in a loud area. A serious accident, however, could cause major hearing loss. When someone hears ringing in their ears, they need to speak to a doctor. Hearing loss can make it difficult or impossible to return to work as normal.
- Blindness: Blindness can occur after a serious accident. Workers and their families must speak to a lawyer to investigate improper storage of chemicals or defective tools that caused loss of sight.
- Amputations: Although no one wants to believe that an amputation can occur, these accidents can change the victim’s life forever.
- Concussions: A concussion produces nausea, headaches, and fainting. Workers should see a doctor when they experienced a blunt head injury.
Workers who are injured should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible to review the nature of the accident and the injuries that were sustained.
What are the Hazards of Working in a Construction Zone?
Construction zones are often very dangerous and busy. As cars race by on the highway, drivers and passengers could be injured when the construction zone is set up improperly. Although most drivers slow down near these areas, they cannot account for everything that could occur. Causes of construction zone accidents often include the following:
Construction vehicles: A construction zone is managed by a corporation and a team of people to keep the workers and passing drivers safe. Unfortunately, construction vehicles enter and exit the highway without much warning. A construction vehicle that merges onto the road without the driver looking could cause a crash. If the entrance for the worksite is in a blind spot, these crashes could be even more frequent and devastating.
Roadway debris: Debris on the roadway can cause an accident, result in major damage to a vehicle, or even crash through the windshield of a passing vehicle. When cars drive over debris, their tires might be blown out. If a driver notices debris and tries to swerve around it, they could crash. If the debris is so massive that cars need to stop completely, a multi-vehicle accident could occur.
Improper signs or markings on the road: The construction crew is responsible for adding proper signage or markings on the road. If the work site is not properly marked, drivers do not know they should slow down. In fact, drivers might not realize they are approaching a construction zone until they encounter a large construction vehicle or barrier. Likewise, flaggers should communicate effectively to ensure that drivers can pass safely.
Improper barrier usage: Construction companies also use barriers to separate the construction zone from the rest of the road. If there are hardly any barriers, drivers may not realize the construction zone is there. The barriers might be too close to the edge of a lane, and drivers might crash into one another as they try to slip through such a small space.
Unsafe lane merging: If the construction crew wants to divert traffic, it will merge lanes or change the direction of the lane. Drivers must be given plenty of warning when lanes are merging, and those lanes should be continuously marked until the lane has disappeared.
Inadequate drainage: A road might be slippery because the construction company has not accounted for proper drainage on the work site. Drivers could skid off the road on a sunny day when they hit a large puddle caused by a negligent construction crew.
Unsafe speed limits: A construction crew must post an appropriate speed limit for the area. Although drivers want to get to their destination as quickly as possible, the construction company must choose a speed limit that aligns with the work zone and merging lanes.
Should I Collect Information from the Accident Scene?
Someone who is hurt in a construction area must ensure that they collect as much information as possible and take the appropriate steps after an accident. When the accident occurs, the victim should not try to move if they are badly hurt. Workers and supervisors on-site should call 911 and send the victim to the hospital. The victim also needs to attend to the following:
- Photographs of the accident site: Pictures and videos of the accident site will show how the accident unfolded and what the aftermath of the accident looked like. If the area is cleaned in the interim, evidence could go missing.
- Dates and times: Dates and times should be recorded so that the worker can prove that they were doing their job properly. The employee must show that they were on the clock, performing their normal work duties, and used all the provided safety equipment.
- What was happening: The details of the accident are often important if an insurance company denied a claim. A supervisor or co-worker might assert that the employee was not doing their job properly or was engaging in inappropriate behavior. The corporation might even claim that the employee was breaking the law. Recording as much information as possible helps prove that the victim was injured through no fault of their own. Although Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault system, independent contractors must continue to fight for compensation if they are hurt.
- Eyewitness accounts: Eyewitness accounts better explain what occurred during the accident. If someone is willing to come forward, they might shed light on negligence that occurred on the work site. At the same time, an eyewitness might know that a tool or part malfunctioned.
- Immediate medical attention: Victims must receive immediate medical attention, no matter how small the injury. The victim needs to show that they took the injury seriously and spoke to a doctor. A patient chart or receipts from a medical facility can be used to prove that medical attention was sought and required. A corporation or insurance company that does not see any medical expenses will wonder how the victim could have been injured if they never saw a doctor.
- Reporting the injury to a supervisor: Workers need to report the injury as soon as possible. In the aftermath of a major accident, a supervisor might be distressed. That person might not realize that an insurance claim must be filed, or they might not know what to write in the report. Even an independent contractor should report injuries to a supervisor. Although these employees do not receive Workers’ Compensation, they need to establish a timeline for their accident and injuries.
Victims need to collect as much information as possible before scheduling a consultation with a construction accident lawyer. They should be honest and allow the lawyer to assess the validity of the case before moving forward.
When Should I Hire a Lawyer?
A lawyer must intercede if the victim has been denied Workers’ Compensation insurance or suffers from injuries caused by a negligent party. A lawyer will begin to collect information from the case and give their client progress reports while the case is pending. It is always important that a lawyer speak on behalf of the client. When the client is contacted by the corporation, insurance companies, or other lawyers, all that information should be forwarded to their lawyer.
Additionally, a lawyer can negotiate a settlement before the case goes to court. The lawyer may also need to spend some time determining who was truly negligent when causing the accident. A corporation that hires independent contractors is not shielded from liability. Moreover, that company might have bought faulty tools with substandard parts. The manufacturer of those parts should be held accountable for the accident along with the manufacturer of the tool if it knew those parts were not fit for production.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When families lost loved ones to accidents and injuries, they may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party. It is important to remember that employees of a business will receive death benefits under Workers’ Compensation. An independent contractor’s family, however, may sue the employer if negligence occurred. The manufacturer of a faulty tool, vehicle, or part may be the subject of a lawsuit, or a negligent colleague who caused the accident and subsequent death may be sued by the family. In New Jersey, families have two years to file a wrongful death claim, and they must adhere to the following rules:
- Spouses, children, parents, and grandparents may file suit.
- Extended relatives may file suit if no immediate family members remain.
- Other relatives or friends who were dependent on the decedent may file a claim on behalf of the decedent’s estate.
Families should contact a construction accident lawyer for assistance when a loved one has died, and the negligent party must be held accountable.
New Jersey Construction Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Construction Accident Victims
Speak to a New Jersey construction accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr when you or someone you love has been hurt or killed on a construction site. You want someone who understands that your case is unique and takes the time to learn exactly what happened to you, as well as what you need to move forward with your life. Call us today at 732-249-4600 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve construction accident victims in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.