The demand for new buildings, roads, and other structures has made the construction industry one of the top five industries driving the US economy, according to Investopedia. The Associated General Contractors of America said over seven million people work in construction and employment increased by 52,000 jobs in January 2019 alone.
Unfortunately, those promising figures are tainted by tragedy. Based on fatal work injury rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 20.7% or 971 out of 4,674 worker fatalities in 2017 were in construction. This translates to one in five worker deaths.
The fatal four of construction workers
The BLS said more than half or 59.9% of construction worker deaths in 2017 were caused by these fatal four reasons:
- Falls (39.2%)
- Hit by objects (9.4%)
- Electrocution (8.3%)
- Caught-in/Between (7.3%) — this refers to workers who are caught or stuck in machinery, or crushed by a collapsing structure or equipment
Eliminating these hazards can save the lives of 582 workers yearly, the BLS added.
Construction workers face danger daily
Those grim statistics are not surprising since construction workers are almost always in danger due to the nature of their work. In addition to working long hours, they operate heavy machinery and other potentially dangerous tools, work high above the ground on scaffolding, or below in trenches. This puts them at risk for accidents and injuries.
If you happen to be a construction worker who was accidentally injured, here’s what you can do:
1. Apply for workers’ compensation benefits
If you are injured on the job, you can apply for workers' compensation benefits. While the compensation systems differ from state to state, here’s how they work in North Carolina (NC).
First, you don’t have to spend money in court to prove that another person caused the accident by negligence. You only have to show that you were injured “by accident” while working. The various ways you can show an injury was “by accident” in NC can be tricky, so consulting a lawyer is best.
While employers are required to have workers' compensation insurance if they have three or more employees, some fail to have proper coverage in the construction arena particularly. You may have to hire an attorney to battle an uninsured employer or look for potential coverage through a general contractor.
If you establish that the injury was “by accident”, workers’ compensation insurance covers the injured person’s medical expenses, lost wages, and partial or permanent disability.
2. File a civil lawsuit
Aside from workers' compensation, if you can establish that someone or some other third-party company was responsible for your injury, you may seek payment for damages from other persons or companies in civil court.
Construction work normally entails working with other subcontractors or vendors like architects, engineers, and suppliers who may or may not be on the job site. If your injury is the result of negligence, you may file a claim for damages against the person responsible as well as your employer.
To be successful, you must prove the following: (1) that another person or entity had a duty to act in a reasonable and safe manner; (2) that the person or entity failed to perform his duty or was negligent; and (3) your accident or injuries were caused by that negligence.
3. File a product liability lawsuit
If your injury was caused by malfunctioning equipment due to faulty design or low quality, you could file a civil lawsuit. The defendant in the lawsuit could be the designer of the tool or the supplier of parts used in making the equipment.
Even though these people were not in the construction site, their actions may have played a role in your job site injury. To get paid, you must show that the tool or equipment that caused your injury was unreasonably dangerous when it left the supplier or manufacturer, or it had a dangerous defect that injured you.
Were you injured recently at work or need help with personal injury law? Know your rights by talking to a Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist in North Carolina--Maggie Shankle of Shankle Law firm, PA. She will defend you to the very end. Her hardworking team has been serving the entire State of North Carolina since 2008 and will help you determine if you’re entitled to financial compensation. Call Maggie at Shankle Law Firm today for your legal options!