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. Consult with a Tampa construction accident lawyer today if you are the victim of a preventable construction injury.
What Are My Legal Options for Construction Injuries?
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?
Why Hire a Construction Accident Lawyer?
A construction accident lawyer in Tampa will be on your side during the claims process. Your lawyer will not work for anyone but you – not an insurance company, the courts or a major corporation. When you retain an attorney, you sign a contract that guarantees the lawyer will work according to what is in your best interest. This can lend multiple benefits to you as a client, including peace of mind while your lawyer fights for compensation on your behalf.
- Connections to great doctors near you
- Thorough construction accident investigation
- Identification of all possible defendants
- Claim filing and other paperwork on your behalf
- Meeting important deadlines
- Professional settlement negotiations
- Better odds of securing fair compensation
- The ability to take your case to court, if necessary
If you encounter any questions, problems or concerns during your construction accident claim, your lawyer can answer them. You will have 24/7 access to an attorney that truly cares about your needs, legal rights and the future of your family. Having an attorney in your corner can give you confidence and hope during a difficult time. If you have suffered serious injuries in a construction zone as a worker or pedestrian, hiring an attorney could be the right course of action for you.
Who’s Responsible for Construction Injuries?
A construction site has many moving parts. Working behind the scenes may be a construction company, site manager, multiple supervisors, electricians, trade workers and many other parties. Any of these entities could be responsible for your injury after a major construction site accident. A few parties are most commonly responsible for construction injuries in Tampa.
- The construction company. The construction company could be liable if it or one of its workers caused the injuries. Like all employers, construction companies are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees. The only exception would be if an independently contracted person at the site caused the accident, in which case the individual may be liable.
- An individual. If a subcontractor, independent contractor, violent criminal, third-party driver or another individual caused your injuries, you may be able to hold that person independently liable for your damages. Holding a company responsible, however, could increase your chances of a fair payout.
- Product manufacturer. Defective and dangerous products often cause accidents in the construction industry. A defective crane, for example, could buckle and collapse, causing catastrophic injuries. Manufacturers or distributors may be responsible for injuries or deaths involving their defective products.
Assigning responsibility for your construction accident injury may take help from an attorney. You may need a law firm’s connections to professional investigators near you. Professional investigators can revisit the scene of your construction accident, search for potential evidence and start to build a case against one or more defendants.
Do I Have a Valid Construction Accident Claim?
Construction workers who have suffered severe or life changing injuries that cause financial loss, time spend away from work or inability to perform future tasks in the workplace require the guidance of an experienced Tampa construction accident lawyer who fully understands workers’ compensation procedures and premises liability. The most common types of construction injuries that can lead to a valid claim and lawsuit include:
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 a construction 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
Causes of Construction Injuries and Accidents
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) keeps track of all serious and fatal construction site accidents in the U.S. to better address the most common safety and health issues. OSHA’s statistics for calendar year 2017 state that, once again, the greatest percentage (20.7%) of worker deaths occurred in the construction industry. The four most frequent reasons construction workers lose their lives on the job are falls, struck-by objects, electrocutions and caught-in/between.
- Human error
- Defective tools and equipment
- Transportation accidents
- Slip/trip and fall accidents
- Crane collapses
- Scaffold failures
- Ladder accidents
- Structural collapses
- Exposure to hazardous substances
- Fires and explosions
- Electrical hazards
- Acts of violence
If employers and others in the construction industry eliminated the four main causes of construction worker death, it would save at least 582 lives annually. Negligence and a wanton disregard for the safety of others cause most preventable accidents, injuries and deaths at Florida construction sites. If you believe someone else is responsible for causing you or a loved one’s recent accident, you could be eligible for financial compensation through one or more legal outlets in Tampa.
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 experienced construction accident and premise liability lawyer in Tampa for a free initial consultation, and see how a claim can help you get back on your feet.