Biloxi Construction Accident Lawyers Representing Injured Workers
Construction sites have many inherent dangers that cause numerous serious accidents every day, many of them with severe or fatal consequences. The construction industry tends to lead all other industries in the number of fatal work injuries year after year – in 2020, there were 1008 fatal construction accident injuries recorded in the United States. While it is known that the work environment found at a construction site can be dangerous by definition, there are many injuries and deaths that could potentially have been prevented if all parties followed the proper safety standards for the job site. Learn what you should do if you have been involved in a construction accident and the steps you can take to recover compensation.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Construction Accidents in Mississippi?
Unfortunately, construction accidents still happen on a daily basis in spite of several safety measures required for the job site. The four most common causes of construction site accidents in Mississippi are falls, trauma caused by being struck with an object, crushing injuries, and electrocution. These are the causes of approximately 60% of all fatalities suffered among construction workers.
There are countless hazards found on a construction job site. Multiple pieces of heavy equipment and machinery, exposure to potentially toxic chemicals and materials, off-ground structures, tall scaffolding that may be improperly built and collapse or cause someone to fall, power tools, ladders, and falling objects are just a few of the many dangers construction workers may deal with on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, some of the hazards are also caused by negligent or reckless actions of fellow workers, supervisors, or the construction company. Cutting corners to get the job done more quickly usually means not following safety protocols or rushing and making severe mistakes. Using sub-par materials and personal protection equipment to cut costs can often lead to serious accidents.
What Should I Do After a Construction Accident?
If you have been involved in a construction accident, seek medical help right away, and get emergency medical attention if your injuries are serious. Even if you don’t feel hurt or think your injuries are mild, it is still a good idea to be seen by a doctor. It is not unusual for some injuries to show delayed symptoms and not manifest themselves for days, even weeks after the accident occurs. This can make it harder for you to claim that your injury was a result of the construction accident and not caused by a separate event. By seeing a doctor soon after the accident, you will have the necessary medical records to document the progression of your injury, which will be an important piece of evidence when it is time to initiate a claim.
Besides getting medical help, getting evidence from the scene of the accident is also important. If you are unable to do so yourself, ask a colleague to document the scene of the accident by capturing pictures, video, and witness testimonies of the area where the accident occurred. Record any unsafe situations and take notes of what you were doing in the moments that led to the accident.
As soon as you are able to, report the accident to your supervisor or the individual in charge of the job site. This is a requirement in order to initiate your claim, especially if you are covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. In addition, by reporting your injury, you will also make your supervisor aware of the unsafe situation, thus preventing other workers from getting injured as well.
It is always best to file an accident report in writing and obtain a copy of it for your own records. This initial accident report is often referred to as FROI or First Report of Injury and needs to be completed not more than 10 days from the date when your injury occurred. If the accident results in a fatality, the deadline is shortened to 24h following the incident. Once the form is completed, your employer will then send it to the insurance company. The insurance company will start investigating what happened and decide whether to accept or deny your claim. At this stage, it may be in your best interest to seek the help of a construction accident attorney who can provide you with detailed guidance for your case.
What Happens if I Cannot Return to Work After a Construction Accident?
If you are entitled to receiving workers’ compensation benefits through your employer and your injuries are serious enough that you are partially or completely unable to work, you may be placed on temporary disability by the physician handling your workers’ comp case. This means you will receive a portion of your weekly pay while you step away from your position to get medical treatment and take the steps needed to recover from your accident. In Mississippi, the maximum amount of time you can continue receiving temporary disability benefits is 450 weeks.
If you are still not fully recovered after being away from work for 450 weeks, your physician may re-assess your situation to decide whether you qualify for permanent disability benefits or if you should return to work on light duty. Your doctor may also decide you have reached maximum medical improvement and your condition is stable and cannot be treated any further, meaning your benefits will likely end at that point.
Who Is Financially Liable for My Construction Accident?
As described above, many construction workers are covered by worker’s compensation insurance and thus can expect to receive coverage for medical expenses and lost wages as part of their employer’s worker’s comp insurance. However, not every construction accident falls under worker’s compensation coverage.
Subcontractors or individuals working at the construction site who are not classified as an employee are not covered by worker’s comp, and the most likely path for these individuals to recover compensation for a construction site accident is to resort to filing a claim with the construction company’s liability insurance. Unlike a worker’s comp claim, this type of claim may require the injured worker to present evidence showing that the accident occurred due to negligence and that the company in charge of the job site should have taken steps to prevent the accident, and thus may be legally responsible for your injuries. A case of this nature is a lot more complex than a worker’s comp claim, and getting the help of an attorney is highly recommended.
Many construction workers are familiar with the busy and sometimes chaotic environment of an active job site, which frequently includes multiple vendors and subcontractors working in close proximity at the same time. When deadlines are tight, or a vendor may be interested in cutting costs, mistakes and shortcuts often result in unsafe conditions that may lead to accidents. If your accident was caused by a subcontractor, you may be able to seek compensation through their liability insurance policy. If that vendor or subcontractor is not insured, you may be able to initiate a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. This can be done in addition to any worker’s comp benefits you may be receiving. Every case is different, so speak to an attorney to see who may be financially responsible for your particular injuries.
What Happens if I Am an Independent Contractor Hurt in a Construction Accident?
Worker’s compensation insurance only provides coverage for those with an employee status, which leaves out those working as independent contractors. The path for an injured independent contractor to receive compensation is usually a personal injury lawsuit, which may take longer to yield results when compared to a regular worker’s comp claim. However, a successful personal injury lawsuit might often yield higher settlement amounts than the injured worker would typically receive in worker’s comp benefits. It may also be possible to file a claim with the company’s liability insurance carrier, but when that is not successful, a civil suit for personal injury may be a feasible choice.
Lawsuits for personal injury are meant to help the plaintiff receive restitution after an injury that was usually caused by another party’s negligent or reckless actions. The burden of proof lies on the plaintiff, which means it will be up to you to show enough evidence that points to the construction company as the responsible party for your accident. An experienced construction accident attorney can help you determine the best course of action for your case.
What Should I Do if My Construction Accident Was Caused by Faulty Equipment?
There is a large number and variety of equipment used on a construction site – from a simple hammer to a crane weighing several tons and anything in between. While many accidents can be caused by human error due to improper or unsafe use of these tools and machinery, other accidents can simply be caused by faulty equipment. If a worker was using a certain piece of equipment in the way it was intended to be used and under normal operating conditions and suffered an injury, it could be due to a manufacturing or design defect.
Injuries caused by faulty equipment are referred to as product liability claims, and injured workers may be able to hold the manufacturer of that piece of equipment financially responsible for his or her losses. A successful product liability claim entails strong evidence that points to the defective tool, machine, or piece of equipment as the root cause for the accident and resulting injuries, making the product a hazard for any user. You may be able to initiate a product liability lawsuit even if you are receiving worker’s comp benefits, making it possible for you to get additional compensation for your injury-related damages, including pain, suffering, and emotional distress as well as financial losses.
How Can I Get Compensation if My Claim Was Denied or My Employer Is Not Insured?
It is common for insurance carriers to try to find ways to minimize their losses by reducing the amount they are willing to pay for workers’ comp claims or denying claims altogether. If you have made a worker’s comp claim in good faith and your claim was denied, you are entitled to receiving an explanation from the insurance company with the reasons why your claim was denied. Common reasons for denial can be claiming that the worker waited too long to report the injury or initiate the claim or that the worker did not submit enough medical evidence to document their injuries.
Once you learn why your claim was denied, it may be in your best interest to seek the help of an attorney to know what your next step should be. Sometimes, your attorney may be able to resolve the problem on your behalf with a few simple phone calls. Other times, things can be a little more complicated, and relying on the help of a professional can increase your chances of a favorable outcome. Attorneys who are seasoned negotiators can be essential in resolving cases in which a claim is being improperly handled or denied in bad faith.
The same applies to cases in which an employer does not have worker’s compensation coverage. In Mississippi, employers with 5 or more employees are required by state law to offer worker’s compensation insurance. Employers that are required to offer workers’ comp coverage and fail to do so may face significant consequences, including fines and even potential jail time. If you were hurt in a construction accident and found out your employer is non-compliant with state laws and has no workers’ comp insurance, contact an attorney to see if you may be able to file for a personal injury lawsuit in addition to workers’ comp benefits.
At the Rundlett Law Firm, PLLC, our construction accident attorneys have represented countless injured workers in Biloxi, MS, and surrounding areas. We can help you navigate the process of successfully filing a claim or a civil lawsuit to receive the compensation you deserve. Contact our office at 228-338-1515 to see how we can help.