The construction industry is one of the most vital business sectors in the United States, with a market size of $2.7 trillion. However, it is also one of the most dangerous for its workers.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, there were 106,900 non-fatal workplace injuries in 2020. About 74,000 cases required time away from work, job transfer, or restriction on job duties. The construction industry accounted for over 4,000 non-fatal workplace injury cases in Illinois.
If you suffer a workplace injury at a construction site in Illinois, your employer may be liable for your damages. The construction accident lawyers at Nessler & Associates will explain your rights and legal options after a construction accident.
Learn how we can help you file a workers’ compensation claim or pursue damages so you can receive a financial settlement for your injuries.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Construction Injuries?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the construction industry is one of the most hazardous occupations for workers.
The organization has identified four areas of focus, known as the Focus Four, that account for the highest number of accidents for construction workers. These include falls, caught-in and caught-between accidents, struck-by accidents, and electrocutions.
Falls are one of the most common causes of construction accidents. According to OSHA, construction workers are at risk of injuries whenever they are exposed to heights of 4 feet or more.
OSHA rules require construction companies and general contractors to provide adequate fall protection equipment and safety measures for any worker operating at 6’ or higher and in any location with heavy, potentially dangerous machinery.
Failure to provide adequate fall protection measures can result in serious construction injuries or death. Examples of construction accident injuries associated with fall hazards include:
- Fractures, including broken wrists, ankles, hips, arms, and legs
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
If you suffer an injury due to a fall at work, we can review the circumstances and help you seek workers’ compensation benefits or sue a third party.
Caught-In and Caught-Between Accidents
A caught-in accident, also called caught-between, is a construction accident where a worker is injured or killed due to being grabbed, caught, crushed, or stuck between two objects.
One of the most common types of caught-in accidents is the cave-in event, which often occurs during trench digging, sloping, or shoring jobs. Caught-between accidents may involve workers suffering injuries from being pulled or crushed by moving machinery.
These accidents can occur due to unguarded or unsupervised equipment or poor training. Workers injured in this type of accident generally have not received sufficient warning or protection to avoid or mitigate the danger.
If you suffered injuries in a caught-in or between accident, speak with an attorney from Nessler & Associates. We can look for evidence of employer negligence and hold them responsible for your injuries with a workers’ compensation claim.
According to OSHA, if an impacting object is solely responsible for an injured worker’s damages, it is considered a struck-by event. OSHA classifies struck-by accidents into four sub-categories:
- Struck by falling objects, such as tools dropped from overhead scaffolding
- Struck by flying objects, such as rock projections from digging equipment
- Struck by swinging items, such as impacts from suspended beams or rotating machinery
- Struck by rolling objects, such as construction vehicles entering or exiting work sites
According to the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), despite an overall downward trend, struck-by incidents of all types have been the leading cause of nonfatal injuries and the second most common cause of death in the construction industry since 1992.
Electrocution hazards are typically caused by accidental or negligent exposure to unsecured power lines or dangerous power sources. These hazards may be direct, such as when a worker accidentally touches a live object, or indirect, such as coming in contact with a construction element conducting electricity.
Due to the relative conductivity of the human body, electrical hazards can cause many types of injuries. Direct exposure to electricity can cause:
- Electrical burns that cause thermal damage to the skin, muscles, and nerves
- Muscular spasms and temporary loss of bodily control
- Cardiopulmonary disruptions that prevent the worker from breathing correctly or disrupting heart functions
While direct electrical damage is dangerous on its own, electrically injured construction workers may sustain additional injuries due to electrocution. For example, an electrocution can cause a worker to fall, or an electrically-induced spasm or loss of control may result in additional injuries, compounding their risk of injury.
If you suffered an electrocution injury, our attorneys at Nessler & Associates can help you pursue compensation to pay for your medical treatment. We will ensure your employer files a workers’ compensation claim on time and that you receive the full benefit you’re entitled to in Illinois.
Who is Liable After a Construction Site Accident?
Depending on the construction site and the circumstances surrounding your accident, one or multiple parties may be legally responsible for your injuries. Liable parties can include your employer or a third party who acted in the following roles:
Construction Site Owner
The construction project owner is responsible for cooperating with construction companies to provide a safe work environment. Roles and responsibilities specific to the construction site owner include:
- Creating a safety plan for the contractor to follow
- Ensuring the construction project follows local, state, and federal laws, including building codes
- Conducting proper surveys and environmental testing
- Informing the contractor about the presence of safety risks, such as hazardous materials on site
The construction company employing the workers has the most control over workers’ safety during a construction project. While they must cooperate with the site owner to complete the project according to their specifications, the contractor is still liable for their employees’ safety and compliance with all relevant safety regulations.
Responsibilities include providing training and awareness of safety protocols, such as OSHA’s fall prevention campaign. If you were injured while employed by a negligent construction company, you can file a workers’ compensation claim to get benefits such as paid wages for the time you are off work and covered medical treatment.
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)
Most workers at construction sites use heavy machinery and vehicles like trucks, skid loaders, or bobcats. Each machine must be manufactured to high quality and safety standards to prevent worker accidents and injuries.
The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) may be liable for your injuries if they result from a design flaw or a manufacturing defect in their products.
What Are Your Legal Options After a Construction Accident?
When you suffer a construction accident injury, you have different legal options depending on the circumstances of your case. If you are injured on a job site controlled by your employer, you can pursue a workers’ compensation claim for benefits.
However, if you work in a contracted position, or your injuries were caused by a contracted party or machinery issue, you can seek compensation through a personal injury claim.
In Illinois, all businesses with one or more part-time or full-time employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance to help pay for injuries their staff sustains on the job. If a construction company employs you, we can help you understand your benefits under workers’ compensation and receive benefits.
According to the Illinois Handbook on Workers’ Compensation, you are entitled to medical treatment for your injuries until you are cleared to return to work. You may also receive temporary or permanent partial disability benefits or temporary or permanent total disability benefits.
Partial disability benefits pay you 66% of the difference between your wage pre-injury and what you earn after the incident. If you are fully disabled due to your injury, you receive 66% of your total wages.
Illinois publishes a breakdown of average workers’ compensation payout rates that are updated every six months. This resource can help you, and your legal team estimate how much to expect in compensation benefits. For example, the average weekly wage across the state from July 2022 to January 2023 was $1,344.55.
You and your attorney can also search the state’s employer database to explore the benefits their workers’ compensation insurer provides.
You must file for workers’ compensation within 45 days of your injury. Working with a construction accident attorney immediately after you receive medical treatment can ensure you file the appropriate paperwork with your employer and start the compensation process.
Personal Injury Claim
If you are not employed with the construction company responsible for your injuries or were harmed by defective equipment, you can’t file for workers’ compensation. Instead, you can seek a settlement for your accident-related costs through a personal injury claim.
Construction companies and product manufacturers must carry liability insurance to operate their businesses. At a minimum, they will likely have general liability insurance to pay for personal injury to a third party.
If we find a third party responsible for your injuries, you can file a claim with their liability insurance for compensation up to their policy limits.
If the insurer refuses to pay a fair settlement, you can take your personal injury case to court to seek economic and non-economic damages.
Typically, you can seek the following compensation through an insurance claim or construction accident lawsuit:
- Ongoing and future medical expenses
- Medication costs
- Surgery costs
- Rehabilitative expenses, including home medical equipment and physical therapy
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings potential, including missed job opportunities
- General pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and anguish
- Mental or behavioral disorders due to the accident, such as PTSD
- Loss of enjoyment of life, such as the inability to perform your favorite activities due to your injury
- Chronic or recurring pain, which may not be fully treatable
We can help you secure compensation for your economic and non-economic damages by providing proof of these expenses. Our legal team uses the following evidence to convince the insurer or court what you’re entitled to:
- Medical receipts or bills
- W2 statements
- Photos and video footage of visible injuries
- Journal or diary documenting your day-to-day symptoms and feelings
- Testimonies from friends and family
- Statements and documents from mental health professionals, such as psychological or psychiatric evaluations
What About Punitive Damages?
In rare cases, the court may order the at-fault party to pay punitive damages on top of your compensation claim. Punitive damages are intended as a punishment for especially harmful or malicious behavior.
Your construction accident attorney can help you secure punitive damages if you have evidence that the at-fault party intended to harm you, had a willful disregard for your safety, or reckless indifference to your risk of harm.
For example, a contractor knew a machine had malfunctioned in the past, took no measures to fix it, and did not inform you of the risk of using it when you suffered your injury.
How Long do I Have to File a Third-Party Construction Accident Claim?
Illinois gives you two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death claims.
However, the state provides a few exceptions for filing a claim for a construction injury:
- If the construction accident results from negligence or omission from a private construction company’s supervision, you have four years to file your claim.
- If you plan to file a suit against a public entity, such as a city, local government, or school district, you only have one year to file your case.
Seek qualified legal representation from the attorneys at Nessler & Associates to ensure you file your claim within the statute of limitations for your case. We can review the circumstances of your accident, determine how long you have to file, and turn your completed documentation in within the appropriate time frame.
Schedule Your Free Consultation with Nessler & Associates
Construction accidents can cause severe life-threatening injuries that impact your ability to make a living. If you have been injured while working on a construction site, reach out to the skilled construction accident attorneys at Nessler & Associates as soon as possible.
Our workplace injury lawyers have decades of experience handling construction accident cases in Illinois, Texas, Florida, and Colorado. We have the resources and qualifications to handle your case, represent your interests, and secure maximum compensation.
With our contingency fee policy, you don’t need to pay us until we win your case. This gives you the peace of mind to focus on healing and recovery.
Call our law firm at (800) 727-8010 or email us via our online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.