If you are working on a construction site, you are putting yourself at risk every day. There are numerous hazards throughout a work site that you know to avoid. Unfortunately, not all of them are avoidable, and they can cause significant injuries, from burns and scratches to something more catastrophic as an amputation and even death.
Fortunately for most workers, Workers’ Compensation will help cover your costs of medical bills as well as compensation for the time you are forced to stay home from work while you are recuperating. The problem is Workers’ Compensation, although not complicated, has its limits.
It may not be able to cover you long-term, especially if you are unable to return to your previous job or cannot work again because of your injury. There are instances in which the carelessness or negligence of another person led to your injuries. By filing a third-party personal injury claim, that person or entity can be held liable and made to compensate you for your injuries and your long-term expenses.
It may not seem clear when it is appropriate to move forward on a third-party liability claim. You may not believe there is enough evidence, or you are worried about not receiving anything for your accident. A construction accident lawyer can sort the situation out for you. They will listen to details about your case and offer advice on the best legal path for you to receive the compensation you deserve.
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What Types of Injuries are Common in Construction Accidents?
You can suffer several injuries if you are hurt working on a construction site, depending on the type of accident you sustain. The more severe the accidents, the more severe the injury. The common injuries 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
Unfortunately, many workers are killed in accidents on construction sites, and the industry has managed to determine the four deadliest causes of accidents. They have been labeled the Fatal Four, which includes falls, electrocution, being struck by an object, and being caught in between a piece of machinery.
These situations will have long-lasting physical repercussions, but they can also have mental and emotional ramifications for you going forward. Fortunately, there are multiple options for you that will help minimize the financial impact these injuries will have on you and your family.
What is a Third-Party Liability Claim?
Although Workers’ Compensation will help pay for your medical expenses and recoup some of the wages you will not be able to earn while you are recovering, there are limits to what it can cover. There might also be another party or two that are responsible for the circumstances that led to your accident.
As a condition for receiving Workers’ Compensation, you are prohibited from filing a claim against your employer unless the accident was a deliberate act on their part. However, you might have a case against a third party. New Jersey law allows you to file a claim against another party if you can demonstrate their liability.
When you file a third-party claim, you are entitled to compensation like that of Workers’ Compensation, including compensation for your medical expenses and your lost wages. However, you can also seek a claim for pain and suffering as well as punitive damages. In addition, the death benefits for your family are far more comprehensive. 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 expire.
What are Examples of Third-Party Litigation Cases?
There are numerous instances in which third-party litigation will be involved. A few of those situations include the following:
- Car Accident: If you were injured while driving as an errand for your boss, it is work related and therefore eligible for workers’ compensation. However, the driver can file a claim against the person who caused the accident.
- Faulty Equipment: If the injury occurred from faulty equipment, you could file a claim against the manufacturer of the machine for creating the flaw in its operations.
- Defective Product: This could also be the cause of an injury, meaning you can file a claim against the manufacturer for failing to make the product properly, causing the health risk.
- Subcontractors: Although you cannot file a claim against your employer for the injury you sustained, if a subcontractor’s actions caused your injuries, you can file a claim against them for their actions.
- Dangerous Design: If you are hurt because of the fault in the design of your work site or the building on which you are working, you can file a claim against that third party because it was their design that created the unsafe work environment.
- Property Hazard: A property hazard claim could be made if you are conducting work on someone’s property, and you are hurt because of conditions in the area that the owner of the property failed to address.
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What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is an insurance that most New Jersey-based businesses are required to carry that compensates you for a portion of your expenses should you become injured at work. You cannot be denied Workers’ Compensation by your employer regardless of the circumstances that led to your accident. In exchange, for this, you are prohibited from filing a claim against your company for additional compensation for things such as pain and suffering. The exception to this rule is if the company caused your accident deliberately.
Workers’ Compensation covers most of the bills you will incur after your work-related injury. Each state decides what expenses Workers’ Compensation will cover and how it will cover it. In New Jersey, it covers these costs:
- Medical Costs: When you are hurt, you will require medical treatment for your injury. There may be tests you need to undergo along with an evaluation by the doctor. Keep a record of all these expenses and the doctor’s notes to submit as part of your claim.
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits: If your injury is going to cause you to miss more than seven days of work, you are entitled to benefits at a rate of 70 percent of your average weekly wage. The amount you receive should be between 20 and 75 percent of the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW). You will receive this amount while you are out of work and seeking medical treatment for your injury.
- Permanent Partial Benefits: You could be entitled to a certain level of compensation if you suffer a permanent disability. The amount you receive varies, but a construction accident lawyer will help you determine the amount.
- Permanent Total Benefits: If you are unable to return to work because of your injury, workers’ compensation will continue to pay you benefits for up to 450 weeks. If you can prove that you are unable to return to work after that period is up, the state will continue to compensate you for your injuries. The amount is the same as what you would receive under 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 renders you unable to work.
- Death Benefits: If your family member dies of the injuries they sustained in a work-related accident, you are also entitled to receive death benefits. These are 70 percent of the weekly wage of the deceased worker. The amount will not surpass the maximum benefit established annually by the commissioner of labor.
The payments from Workers’ Compensation will terminate once you return to work or achieve maximum medical improvement (MMI), which means that your situation will no longer improve with further medical intervention.
- $1 MPedestrian Accident
- $845 KCommercial Truck Accident
- $275 KSlip and Fall Accident
What Should I Do After My Work Accident?
The most important need to address after a work-related accident is your health. If you require immediate medical attention, you should go to the hospital. Even if you do not believe you were injured, have yourself checked by a doctor as soon as possible. To be eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation, you will have to go to a doctor who has been pre-approved by your company. It may not be your own personal physician.
It is also important that you report the accident to your supervisor as soon as possible. If you need to go to the hospital right away, be sure to come back to work as soon as you are physically able to file a report. If you cannot do it, ask a trusted co-worker to do it for you. If you can wait to see a doctor, file the report immediately following the accident. Once it has been filed, your employer can begin the process of signing you up for Workers’ Compensation.
There are those companies that are more reluctant to provide Workers’ Compensation for a variety of reasons. That is why it is important for your own protection that you gather evidence related to your accident, including photos of the place where the accident occurred. You should also take pictures of the conditions that led to the accident and speak with any witnesses about what they saw. Be sure to collect their contact information for later. If you are unable to perform these tasks, ask a trusted co-worker to do it for you.
As part of gathering evidence, obtain a copy of your timecard in case your employer or their insurance try to claim that you were not working at the time of the accident.
How are Workers’ Compensation and Third-Party Claims Different?
If you have been injured while on the job, you should know all the facts about how you wish to proceed. A construction accident lawyer can help you on this decision, as they will know your likely pathway to success.
New Jersey is a no-fault state, meaning that the circumstances of what led to your accident are irrelevant when it comes to collecting on this insurance. Even if the accident was the result of your own carelessness or negligence, you will still receive the benefits under Workers’ Compensation.
In a third-party liability claim, you will have to prove that the negligence of a third party is what caused your accident and subsequently your injuries. However, although the burden of proof is higher for this claim, it has the potential to pay out more than Workers’ Compensation, as it will pay not only the entirety of your medical bills and lost wages, but also other expenses such as pain and suffering and more comprehensive death benefits.
Workers’ Compensation will pay out for medical bills and lost wages but will pay only a portion of those expenses and not the full amount. You should note that you can file a third-party claim and move forward on your Workers’ Compensation process as well. However, after you settle your third-party claim, you may have to use a portion of that settlement to reimburse your employer for the Workers’ Compensation it has already paid out.
If you intend to file a third-party claim in New Jersey, the statute of limitations on when you can file this case is two years from the day of the accident. If you were unaware of being injured in the accident, the two-year timeframe begins the day you learn about your injury.
South River Construction Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Get You the Help You Need after Your Work-Related Accident
Getting hurt at work can be a devastating ordeal made even more difficult if you have an employer that is not being forthcoming when it comes to your Workers’ Compensation. You might believe that there is a third party that is also to blame for your situation. The South River construction accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr can help you determine your best course of action. We will look over your case to determine if you have grounds for a third-party claim and stand up to your employer to make sure they pay the compensation for which you are entitled. 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.