Construction jobs are rewarding, but they are also some of our nation’s most dangerous jobs. Construction workers must contend with many hazards, such as heavy machinery, scaffolding, trenches, and other occupational dangers. Exposure to the elements can lead to serious conditions such as heat stroke, dehydration, or even chronic illness.
Your employer has a duty to provide you with a safe work environment. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration sets certain minimum standards for safety in the construction industry and helps protect workers from preventable injuries. Despite this, construction accidents in Tampa can and do happen every day. If you recently incurred injury on a construction site, what are your legal options?
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
For most workers, the first line of defense is a workers’ compensation claim. Florida has a workers’ compensation program to protect employees who sustain injury on the job. This program is a no-fault system in which you can collect benefits while you’re recovering from a work-related injury. Since the system is no-fault, you won’t have to prove your employer was negligent before collecting benefits. In exchange for this, however, you forfeit your right to sue your employer for additional damages.
Florida law requires all employers carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover injuries their employees may suffer on the job. To collect your benefits, follow a few simple steps:
1. Report your injury as soon as possible
While you have up to 30 days to report the incident to your supervisor, it’s best to let him or her know as soon as you experience symptoms. Waiting to file for benefits may cause your employer to question the veracity of your claims. On the other hand, some injuries take days to fully manifest, so act as soon as you can.
2. Seek the appropriate medical care
Once you report your injuries, it’s your supervisor’s responsibility to file a claim with the workers’ compensation insurance company. However, it’s your job to find proper medical care. Ask if company policy is to see an in-network provider or if you can follow up with your PCP. Either way, it’s important to seek appropriate medical care as soon as you can.
3. Keep all your recommended doctor’s appointments.
If you’re not following recommended care, the insurance company (or your employer) might not think your injuries are as serious as they are.
What Happens After Your Claim Is Approved?
Once approved, your workers’ compensation claim will pay for a portion of your salary and all approved medical bills. Your wage benefit amount will depend on your company’s policy, but it’s usually around 2/3 of your previous salary. You will continue to receive benefits until you’re able to return to work.
One of the main advantages of the workers’ compensation system is that it’s no-fault. In other words, you won’t have to prove your employer was negligent to collect benefits. On the other hand, accepting workers’ compensation benefits forfeits your ability to pursue a personal injury claim against the company – even if their negligence led to your injuries.
Other Options for Compensation
Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation program rarely provides enough benefits on which to live. Chances are, you’ll only receive a portion of your previous salary. For this reason, many injured construction workers look for additional avenues for legal recourse. In certain situations, you may be able to bring a separate claim against other companies to compensate for damages.
The construction industry is unique in that you often work with multiple companies at once. For example, you might be working with other contractors, subcontractors, and vendors at the same time. If an employee of another company acted negligently and that led to your injury, you may be able to pursue an additional claim. If this applies, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. Examples of when this might apply include:
- A vendor negligently installing scaffolding
- A subcontractor digging a trench leading to hazardous waste leaks
- An onsite truck driver acting recklessly
- A roofing subcontractor negligently installing roofing material
Your Tampa Construction Accident Attorney
Construction accidents are often serious and may leave you out of work for the long term. If you’re struggling under the weight of bills and wondering how you’ll make ends meet, we can help. Contact our construction accident injury lawyers for a free initial consultation, and see how a claim can help you get back on your feet.