Working in construction can be one of the most rewarding jobs in the West Memphis area. New mixed-use communities and pocket neighborhoods are being built every day. The addition of new medical and commercial buildings in the city means more construction work than ever.
However, construction is also one of the riskiest professions, involving the threat of injury or death on a daily basis. If you or someone you love has been hurt on a building job site, contact a West Memphis personal injury lawyer from Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC today. We offer a free consultation to understand your case and guide you on how to file a claim.
Common Causes of Construction Site Accidents
Construction sites of any size are inherently dangerous to the public, which is why they are often fenced off and guarded. But those working inside the perimeter face danger throughout their shifts from heavy equipment, hazardous materials, noise, and fumes. While companies have safety protocols to protect workers, there are still many ways an employee can be injured on the job.
Whether you are building single-family homes or skyscrapers, you could face the risk of a construction accident from causes such as:
- Being caught between objects or machinery
- Broken or poorly maintained equipment
- Collapsing structures such as scaffolding or walls
- Collapsing trenches
- Exposure to dangerous chemicals
- Falling from any height
- Falling objects
- Forklift accidents
- Fume or smoke inhalation
- Insufficient protective gear
- Overexposure to heat or cold
Many workers are injured when someone else fails to perform their job correctly or to observe the safety rules. Construction sites often have workers from different companies, such as contractors and vendors, who may not know all the safety protocols. As such, there could be multiple parties responsible for your injury.
When another person’s negligence and mistake make the job site dangerous, you may need to seek compensation for the harm they have caused.
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Important Steps After Your Construction Site Accident
If you are injured on a construction site, there are some key steps you should take to ensure you are eligible for full benefits. Reporting your accident immediately is critical and must be done within a very narrow timeframe, usually 24 hours. Your employer will likely have workers’ compensation coverage, which requires proof that the injuries are directly related to the accident before it pays benefits.
Workers’ comp insurance is much like any other insurance company; if they can avoid paying a claim, they will. This means you must follow some crucial guidelines to have the best chance of receiving everything you deserve. Here are some recommendations to follow:
- Report the accident to your supervisor immediately, ideally in writing
- Hire a construction accident attorney as soon as possible
- Only speak to insurance adjusters with your construction accident lawyer in West Memphis present
- Do not speak to anyone besides your attorney about the accident
- Do not post on social media about your accident (or let family members post)
- Collect all your medical reports and bills in a folder
- Follow all your doctor’s orders for treatment
- Speak with your lawyer about any concerns or issues
- Send copies of all your records and any other evidence directly to your attorney
- Keep a pain journal to track your recovery
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Workers’ Compensation and Construction Accidents
Companies will turn to their workers’ compensation insurance for most construction accidents. In Tennessee, nearly all businesses must carry worker’s comp, especially in construction. This coverage ensures that workers will have compensation for injuries they sustain on the job and that companies are not sued for that compensation.
Workers’ compensation insurance will pay two main benefits for most accidents: medical treatment and temporary disability payments. Medical treatment payments cover your medical expenses that result from the accident. Temporary disability benefits will pay your lost wages while you recover. The amount is usually two-thirds of your salary at the time of the incident but does have a maximum weekly amount.
Another benefit is a permanent disability payment. Benefits can be partial or total, depending on your ability to work, as determined by a doctor employed by the workers’ comp insurance company. The amount paid weekly is similar to the temporary payments.
Although companies have this insurance to protect both workers and themselves, making a successful claim can be difficult. You must immediately report your accident and follow other guidelines to prove your injury happened at work. You must also file paperwork and complete other steps to claim benefits. This can be a confusing process where you may need the help of an experienced construction accident attorney in West Memphis to guide you.
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Filing a Third-Party Lawsuit for a Construction Accident
Subcontractors, vendors, equipment mechanics, and many other individuals can work on a site in addition to direct employees of the construction company. These people may cause an accident, making them a third party who could be held liable for your injury. In these cases, it is possible to file a personal injury claim against them in addition to receiving workers’ compensation benefits from your employer.
You can also file a personal injury claim against the manufacturer of materials or equipment used at the site. You must prove that the products were defectively made or marketed, meaning that the producer knew there were issues with the product and did not correct them. This is called product liability, and Tennessee has specific laws governing manufacturers and their duties. Product liability is considered a form of personal injury.
To file a successful product liability claim, you must prove that the product defect was the direct cause of your accident or injury. You can seek damages for both economic and non-economic items, which can support you as you recover from your injuries. Compensation gained from a separate lawsuit will not affect the workers’ compensation benefits you receive from your company.
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Compensation from a Third-Party Lawsuit
In Tennessee, you can pursue additional compensation from a personal injury lawsuit against a third party, separate from your workers’ comp benefits. You can sue for both economic damages and non-economic damages. If you pass away from your injuries, your family can file a claim on your behalf and include funeral costs.
Some examples of items you can seek compensation for include economic losses, including:
- ER or ICU expenses
- Doctor bills
- Travel costs for treatment (including emergency transportation)
- Hospital and surgery bills
- Lost wages or income potential
As well as non-economic losses, such as:
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering (mental and physical)
- Disfigurement or scarring
You may sue for the full cost of your economic losses, so it is important to keep receipts for all doctor visits and a record of treatment. You can help your lawyer determine non-economic damages by keeping a journal of how you are feeling throughout your recovery. For non-economic damages, Tennessee limits the amount you can receive to $750,000 (or $1 million for a catastrophic injury or death).
Modified Comparative Fault
It is important to know that Tennessee uses a modified comparative fault system for awarding losses. This means that if the opposing attorney can show that you are 50% or more at fault for your accident, you will receive no damages. Even if a product was defective, if you failed to follow safety guidelines for its use, you could suffer a loss for your claim.
An experienced construction accident attorney can advise you regarding how these legal technicalities affect your case.
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Hire a Qualified West Memphis Construction Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured working in construction in West Memphis, you need help understanding the complex and confusing process of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. When someone else is responsible for your injuries, you may want to seek justice through a personal injury claim. The West Memphis construction accident lawyers of Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC will help you find the best approach for your situation.
Contact us today for a free consultation.