New Jersey Construction Accident and Injury Lawyer
Fighting for New Jersey Construction Accident and Injury Victims
According to 2017 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data, more than 20 percent of all fatal work accidents occurred in the construction industry– accounting for 971 of 5,147 fatalities.
In addition, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health recently reported that approximately 95,000 people die annually in the U.S. from disease and illness associated with workplace hazards such as asbestos and other carcinogens. To compound matters, federal OSHA budget cutbacks and failure to backfill vacancies have hampered OSHA’s ability to inspect workplaces and investigate complaints. For example, OSHA has 875 inspectors to cover 9 million workplaces–it would take 158 years to inspect all of them with the current resources.
At greatest risk are LatinX, immigrant and contract workers, whose fatality rates are on the rise. LatinX and immigrant workers may not receive safety training in their language and are often discriminated against. Contract workers are denied safety training when staffing agencies, subcontractors and direct employers attempt to avoid accountability for job safety.
OSHA maintains that all workplace accidents are preventable. This means that all types of construction site accidents result from negligence. Contractors and construction companies may neglect OSHA safety standards to make more money, putting workers at risk. However, if you sustain injuries on a construction site, workers compensation and/or a third party claim can cover the cost of your medical bills, lost wages and other expenses.
Sometimes, your employer or the insurance company may try to deny your workers’ comp claim. We know that many workers are afraid to speak up or voice a complaint out of fear of being fired. However, a New Jersey construction accident lawyer from our law firm can protect you against any unjust retaliation and help you get the benefits you deserve. In one recent case, the lawyers at Keefe Law Firm obtained a settlement of over $5.9 million for a construction accident victim.
What are the Most Common Types of Construction Site Accidents?
Construction sites are full of large machinery, scaffolding and heavy building materials, which means that any negligence or overlooked safety procedure can cause major injuries. OSHA does maintain a strict set of safety standards for the construction industry. However, companies often ignore or skirt these rules in the interest of profits.
The most frequent construction site accidents are referred to as “Construction’s Fatal Four”:
- Falls accounted for 381 out of 971 total construction deaths in 2017 (39.2%). Workers tumble from ladders and elevated work stations like scaffolding or down into holes in floors and walls, or even into vats of toxic substances. These accidents result when companies fail to provide safety harnesses, stable supports, hard hats and other gear for workers. Common injuries include spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries, broken bones and wrongful death.
- Struck by Object made up 8.2% of deaths in 2017. These accidents happen when workers are hit by falling objects when they are working underneath cranes, ladders or scaffolding. Workers are also hit by flying objects when power tools are in use, or when objects become airborne from pushing, pulling or prying. In both instances, concussions, brain trauma, blindness and even death may result.
- Electrocutions comprised 71 or 7.3% of 2017 fatalities. Engineers, electricians, and other construction professionals who work directly with or are exposed to electrical sources are at-risk for electrocution. Burns, internal, neurologic and cardiac injuries and sometimes death are common outcomes after a person has suffered from electrocution.
- Caught-in/Between* constituted 50, or 5.1% of fatalities. Caught-in/between is defined as when a person has been squeezed, caught, crushed, pinched, or compressed between two or more objects, or between parts of one object. Examples include getting a finger caught in a piece of machinery or a wall caving in on top of a worker.
Other causes of construction injuries and deaths include:
Machinery accidents – When contractors neglect proper maintenance of construction machinery, malfunctions and failures may result. These accidents may cause brain injuries, loss of limbs and other life-changing injuries.
Fires and explosions – OSHA standards include protections against fire hazards and explosions. Negligence on a construction site, especially involving electrical work and heavy machinery, can result in a serious fire.
Any injury a construction worker sustains could mean the loss of employment opportunities and wages while he or she recovers. Additionally, if a construction accident results in wrongful death, the family left behind may be unable to afford basic living expenses due to loss of income. However, a New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney can help you hold negligent construction companies accountable for the damage they cause.
Construction Worker Accident FAQs
Here is some useful information on legal rights for victims of construction accidents.
What rights do construction workers have?
Under federal law, all construction workers in the private sector, all 50 U.S. states, state and local government workers and federal government workers have the right to:
- A safe workplace
- Speak up about health and safety concerns
- Work on machines that are safe
- Be provided with safety gear and equipment
- Be protected from toxic chemicals
Will Workers’ Compensation Cover My Construction Injury in New Jersey?
According to New Jersey law, all businesses with even one employee must have workers’ compensation insurance coverage. This type of insurance covers all work injuries, regardless of fault.
Under New Jersey workers’ compensation laws, employees are entitled to medical care, disability pay, rehabilitation, and death benefits for fatalities. Depending on the injury, any worker may receive reimbursement for medical expenses related to the workplace injury. This includes hospital bills and the costs for follow-up doctors’ visits. It also includes any necessary medications or prescriptions.
If your injury requires specialist care in another city or state, workers comp may cover your travel expenses, too. Even when you are on the road to recovery, you may need extra help through rehabilitation to get you back to your full earning potential. Workers compensation can cover the amount needed for your rehabilitation treatments. In addition to the medical expenses, workers compensation will also partially pay for any work you missed due to your injury.
However, there are time restrictions on workers compensation claims in New Jersey. You must generally report any work injury to your employer within two weeks. Your employer will then notify the insurance company and submit your claim. However, your employer may legally specify which doctor you see for treatment, which is sometimes problematic. If this doctor’s diagnosis of your injuries does not agree with your own physician’s findings, you may not receive enough insurance benefits to pay for your full recovery. In cases like this, a New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney can help.
What are Third Party Claims for Construction Accidents?
Oftentimes, more than one contractor or company may work on a single construction site. As a result, your own company may not be at fault for the accident that caused your work injury. In this case, although you may still be entitled to workers comp benefits, you may also be able to file a third party lawsuit against the negligent company, as well.
This kind of claim allows you to pursue compensation beyond the limits of your employer’s insurance policy. In addition, you might be able to seek punitive damages, which are meant as a punishment and future deterrent to the negligent party. A New Jersey construction accident lawyer can help you gather the evidence you need to file a third party lawsuit.
More Work Injury Questions? Contact a New Jersey Construction Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one sustained injuries working in construction, our personal injury law firm can help. We have experience investigating OSHA violations, and we will fight for your right to fair workers’ compensation benefits. If another company caused your work injury, or the wrongful death of a loved one, we can also represent you in a third party claim.
Keefe Law Firm covers all types of construction accident law, including: