Construction is among the most dangerous industries, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are around 80,000 accidents in this industry each year. In addition, OSHA reports that more than 20% of all workplace fatalities that happen in the private sector occur at a construction job site.
It is not hard to see why construction job sites can be so hazardous. Working with heavy machinery in a fast-paced environment and often in high elevations creates a number of inherent dangers for workers. On top of all that, many are asked to work long hours and put in lots of overtime, which can cause a lot of stress when performing these dangerous tasks. And if proper safety measures are not put in place, the chances of a serious accident are even greater.
When someone is injured in a Huntington, WV construction accident, the first place they would usually go for coverage is their employer’s workers’ compensation policy. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system that gives employees access to benefits regardless of how the workplace accident occurs. The claims process is complicated and confusing, however, and employees are often denied the benefits that they deserve.
Outside of workers’ comp, there is also the possibility that a third party caused or contributed to the injury. This is somewhat common in the construction industry where there are so many moving parts and so many potential factors that could contribute to a workplace accident. If you or a loved one got hurt on a Huntington area construction site, you need an experienced attorney in your corner who understands the law and has the proven ability to recover full and fair compensation on behalf of clients.
At the Masters Law Firm, we are proud to stand up for the working people of Huntington and all of West Virginia, and we have been doing so for nearly five decades. Our lawyers have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and over the years, we have recovered millions of dollars of verdicts and settlements for our clients. We take the time to thoroughly assess the unique circumstances that contributed to the accident, and we explore every potential legal avenue toward obtaining maximum compensation.
Causes of Huntington, WV Construction Injuries
Liberty Mutual lists the top five causes of non-fatal construction injuries, and the direct costs of each:
Falls to a Lower Level: Just under 25% of construction related workers’ comp claims are because of a fall to a lower level. This usually happens because of unstable ladders or scaffolds, and possibly a failure to have proper OSHA-mandated fall protection standards in place. These types of accidents come with a direct cost of about $2.5 billion per year.
Being Struck by an Object or Equipment: As we talked about earlier, working with heavy machinery, tools, and equipment is inherently dangerous, and about 17% of construction claims are because of getting struck by a heavy object or piece of equipment. These events cost employers about $1.7 billion per year.
Overexertion: These accidents are typically caused by a combination of working long hours and handling heavy objects. Summer heat and adverse wintry conditions on a Huntington area jobsite can also be a contributor to overexertion. Overexertion injuries account for a little over 14% of construction accident claims with a cost of nearly $1.5 billion per year.
Falls on the Same Level: Some of the falls that occur on construction sites happen while the worker is on the ground floor and/or on the same level. These accidents usually happen because of slippery surfaces or tripping over some loose wiring, debris, or other objects that are difficult to see. Falls in the same level account for about 13% of construction claims at a cost of about $1.35 billion per year.
Being Hit by Vehicles: The fifth leading cause of non-fatal construction injuries is being hit by a vehicle. This can happen when a construction worker is a pedestrian and gets struck by a bulldozer or another small construction vehicle at the jobsite. It can also happen when workers are transporting materials to and from the site and get hit by another vehicle. Getting struck by vehicles accounts for a little over 7.5% of construction accident claims and costs about $790 million per year.
Huntington, WV Construction Accident Claims
Most West Virginia employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and this provides benefits to cover some of the economic costs of a construction site injury, such as reasonable and necessary medical expenses, a percentage of lost earnings for the time the worker is out, rehabilitation and retraining costs, and death benefits (in the event of a fatal workplace injury).
If your employer has workers’ comp coverage, this is the usually the best starting point for getting your losses reimbursed, because you do not have to prove negligence in order to recover benefits. The downside of the workers’ comp system is that workers who are eligible for benefits are generally prevented from suing their employer except under extreme circumstances when there is clear and convincing evidence that the injury resulted from the employer’s deliberate actions.
Many individuals who work on Huntington construction job sites learn that they are unable to obtain workers’ compensation benefits because they are independent contractors rather than employees. When this is the case, they may still be able to get compensation for their losses through a personal injury lawsuit against the construction company or another responsible party. Employees (of a construction company) may also have this avenue available to them if an outside party was responsible for the accident and injury.
For example, maybe you were driving some supplies into the jobsite when another vehicle crashed into yours and caused you to get hurt. In a case like this, you may be able to file an auto accident claim against the responsible driver. Another common example is when machinery or equipment malfunctions and causes an accident. In such cases, it may be possible to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of the faulty product.
Although personal injury claims require you to prove that the party you are suing was negligent, they also allow you to recover compensation for noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. These types of damages are not available with workers’ compensation claims.
Contact our Seasoned Huntington, WV Construction Accident Attorneys
Construction accidents often involve very complicated circumstances, and it is always best to have an experienced attorney review your case to find out what legal options may be available to you. If you or someone close to you suffered an injury on a West Virginia construction site, get in touch with the Masters Law Firm for skilled legal guidance. For a free consultation and case assessment with a member of our legal team, message us online or call our office today at 304-342-3106 or toll free at 1-800-342-3106.