Three Questions to Help Workers Seek Damages for Construction-Site Injuries

Posted on: 30 August 2016

How do construction workers get damages when injured at a construction site? The answer to this question depends on several factors that determine if you can file a personal-injury claim, workers compensation claim, or both. If you are suffering from such an injury, consider these three questions to help you gauge which claim to file.

What Were You Doing?

If you were working at the time of your fall, then you are entitled to workers compensation benefits. For example, this may be the case if you slipped and fell while nailing roofing shingles. Therefore, report your injury to your employer, complete the claim form, and file it as soon as possible.

However, you shouldn't automatically assume that you aren't entitled to workers compensation just because you were not on the clock at the time of your injury. There are some gray areas in which you might or might not receive the benefits. For example, injuries to workers visiting the workplace after hours aren't usually covered by workers compensation insurance. However, you may be covered if your employer knows about your after-hour visits and you therefore had their tacit approval. In such controversial cases, it's best to talk to an attorney before filing your claim.

What Caused the Fall?

The cause of your fall may also determine who is liable for your injuries. Here are a few examples of why you may fall at a construction site and of respective claims you may pursue in each case.

  • Defective scaffolding – You can pursue a product-liability claim against the manufacturer of the scaffolding and a workers compensation claim too. You may have to reimburse the workers compensation when you win your product-liability claim.
  • Fight with another worker – If you were fighting over an issue not related to work, then you might not get workers compensation benefits, and you will have to pursue a personal-injury claim against the co-worker.
  • Pure accident – If the fall is a pure accident—for example, if you just lost your balance and fell—then your only recourse would be to file a workers compensation claim.

Note that personal injury claims are likely to lead to higher settlements than workers compensation settlements. Therefore, if a third party caused your injury, it may be best to sue them while pursuing a workers compensation claim simultaneously.

Were You Intoxicated?

Drinking on the job can cause you to lose your workers compensation benefits. Moreover, construction is an inherently dangerous job, and intoxication only increases the danger further. Therefore, you may not benefit from workers compensation if you were intoxicated at the time of your injury. However, you may still get other forms of compensation depending on the cause of your fall. For example, you may pursue a personal-injury claim against a co-worker who pushes you even if you were intoxicated at the time.

The answers to these three questions may help you decide which claim to make. However, an experienced attorney is best placed to analyze the unique circumstances of your injury and help you choose the path to follow for maximum recovery.