Although a decline in construction-related accidents, injuries and fatalities can be noted (as per a two-year summary report issued by the New York City Department of Buildings), there is still a concerning number of workplace-related injuries happening and affecting the lives of many.
Ramifications of these accidents are many, ranging from costly medical expenses to the major loss of income due to the employee’s inability to return to work.
The majority of these accidents are made up of falls that occur as a result of improperly devised, maintained or repaired ladders, which is why regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have introduced valuable changes in construction safety regulations.
If you’ve suffered a construction-related accident, depending on the severity of your injuries, you may be entitled to millions in compensation, so here are the three most important steps you should take right after suffering a workplace-related injury:
Seek immediate medical attention
Due to many states having time limits for worker’s compensation, it is important to start building your case as early as possible and the way to do so is by taking care of yourself first.
Time is of the essence due to multiple reasons – one of them being the possibility of developing complications from your injury, however minor it seems. The second one is that the longer you wait to report your injury, the more opportunities your employer will have to argue that the injury isn’t workplace-related.
Be honest about the extent of your physical and mental injuries and don’t try to downplay them because your medical records will serve as one of the primary pieces of evidence for ensuring proper compensation.
If you’re unsure about the relevance of a certain symptom, make sure to include it anyways. The extent of your injury may affect the time you’re forced out of work, which is directly linked to your wage loss and, therefore, the amount of compensation you may ask for.
The doctor you choose will testify in regards to the extent of your injuries, so it is in your best interest to choose a person you know and trust, as well as someone whose reputation will hold up in court. This way, you can make sure that your physician isn’t influenced by your work superiors or another third party.
Notify your employer promptly
Many statutes require an employee to report an accident to their superior within a certain time frame, due to a corresponding obligation of the employer to identify the cause of the accident, as well as react swiftly by getting a worker to a safe place and assisting them in minimizing the severity of the injury.
By failing to comply with these time limits, you may lose the ability to receive workers’ compensation, or the amount you receive may be reduced.
Similar to medical records, your report will also serve as proof of your compliance with the steps that need to be taken before asking for workers’ compensation, so make sure to have its written copy. The more specific and in-depth your report is, the more chances to hold up before the insurance company or the court it has.
Besides the name of the person to whom you’ve reported the accident and the date of the report, it should include answers to questions like:
- What sort of construction accident did you suffer an injury from?
- What sort of injury did you suffer, to what extent, what are the short and long-term consequences of the injury and was it one or multiple injuries? (This is especially important for determining the amount of compensation)
- Why did the accident happen? What is the cause?
- When did the accident happen?
- Describe the way the accident happened.
- Where did it happen?
Some states have strict rules in regards to the format of accident report forms, so consulting an experienced construction accident lawyer to make sure you’re compliant with all the regulations and limitations is advised.
Don’t forget to name the witnesses and provide their contacts, in case there were any and if they’re comfortable with testifying.
Other evidence, such as pictures of the place where the injury was sustained, video material from the surveillance cameras or correspondence with your employer, may also be provided to the court.
Consult an attorney
If you’re a layman, you’re not likely to know all the remedies available to you and the odds you have with them, considering the specifics of your case.
To recover as many damages as possible, as well as to check whether you’re entitled to additional benefits such as wage loss, loss of capacity to work, present and future medical expenses, pain, suffering and others, you should consult an experienced construction accident lawyer.
A lawyer will be able to establish whether the accident and the injury occurred due to a third party’s negligence or not. Furthermore, a lawyer will tell you whether you should file a claim against the General Contractor, Subcontractor or the owner of the property where the accident occurred.
Finally, a lawyer will tell you whether you’re entitled to a worker’s compensation claim and/or a personal injury claim.
In case none of these remedies prove as fruitful, a lawyer will be able to inform you of the appeals at your disposal and predict your success rates with them.