Construction Accidents and Workers' Compensation
If you have been injured while working at a construction site, any resulting legal claim may be affected by workers' compensation laws, depending on your employment situation and the extent to which your employer is responsible for your injuries. Following is a brief examination of the typical workers' compensation procedure for construction accidents, but remember that your attorney will determine the extent of your employer's liability. Keep in mind that parties other than your employer may be legally responsible for your injuries (such as third-party contractors, property owners, or equipment manufacturers) and your recovery from those parties will not be affected by workers' compensation laws.
What Is Workers' Compensation?
Worker's compensation is a system of laws outlining specific benefits to which an injured employee is entitled, including lost wages and medical expenses. It is an important safety net for employees when they are injured while on the job.
Under the law in most states, every business must have workers' compensation insurance to cover its employees. Filing a workers' compensation claim is similar to filing any other insurance claim. It isn't a lawsuit against an employer, rather a request for benefits.
Under most state workers' compensation programs, an injured employee is entitled to:
The injured party has the right to all reasonable necessary treatment to cure or relieve the effects of the injury. Included under medical treatment compensation are all medical bills, prescriptions and even roundtrip mileage to the hospital.
Under workers' compensation benefits, a patient might have to use the company doctor, but only for a maximum of 30 days. After that time, a patient may choose a different doctor, but may have to submit a written request.
If the injured party must take time away from work due to medical reasons related to the construction accident, they might be entitled to temporary disability payments. That would provide partial compensation for lost wages. There are specific maximum and minimum limits to the pay rate, but this normally equals about two-thirds of average weekly gross pay and is paid out every two weeks. After the doctor verifies an inability to work, the first temporary disability check should arrive within a few weeks.
If a worker can't completely recover from the effects of the injury, they could be entitled to a monetary award. Permanent disability means that the injured party has lost some ability to compete in the open labor market of uninjured workers. The amount and rate at which it is paid depends on how much limitation the injury places on activities. Other elements taken into consideration are age, occupation and earnings at the time of injury.
If the injury prevents a return to the former job, assistance in getting another job might be included in the benefits. During vocational rehabilitation, a partial income is distributed, similar to temporary disability. The vocational rehabilitation benefit usually has a maximum monetary limit and may be replaced by an offer of modified or different work from the employer.
What To Do If You Are Injured
Here are tips for filing workers' compensation claims if you are injured on the job:
- Report the injury to the employer - If possible, report the injury in writing and keep a copy of the report for personal records.
- Complete a claim form - No matter how the employer learns of the construction accident, they must offer the injured party a claim form immediately. Until this claim form is completed, the employer has no obligation to provide benefits. Make sure it is filled out completely and specifically. Keep a copy of the claim. It is then the employer's responsibility to immediately notify the workers' compensation insurance company and get medical help.
- File the claim as soon as possible - Those seeking to claim workers' compensation benefits should do so quickly. Any delay on the injured party's part could lead to potential snags or delays. Immediately reporting injuries and filing a claim as soon as it is decided to seek compensation increases the likelihood that benefits will begin quickly. Delays in reporting could lead to delays in benefits.
Don't Go it Alone: Talk to a Lawyer
It pays to learn as much as you can about your workers' compensation claim and the various types of disability that define workers' comp coverage. You may not need to file a separate claim after filing for workers' comp, but you may benefit from having an attorney review your claim and make sure you're on the right track. You can have a lawyer provide an initial review of your claim.
Contact a qualified workers' compensation attorney to make sure your rights are protected.