Construction sites are dangerous places to work, and employers offer workers’ compensation to cover injuries that affect workers. However, accessing benefits can be challenging, and some accidents warrant personal injury lawsuits. Furthermore, some parties that cause construction accidents are not employers but third parties.
Regardless of how you were injured on a worksite, a construction accident lawyer from our team serving Huntington can help explore several roads to compensation. The team at Underwood Law Office believes in providing accessible counsel to West Virginia accident victims. With that in mind, we offer free consultations so you can receive the information you need.
Damages in Workers’ Compensation vs. Personal Injury Claims
Construction accident damages are assigned either via workers’ compensation or a personal injury claim. Construction workers can file for compensation through their company’s insurance to receive payment for the following:
- Lost wages
- Hospital bills
- Prescription medications
- Medical equipment
- Physical therapy
The idea of workers’ compensation is to get you back in shape to return to work. If that’s not possible, you are entitled to disability benefits, as well as help returning to the workforce. This can include:
- Temporary partial disability benefits
- Permanent partial disability benefits
- Temporary total disability benefits
- Permanent total disability benefits
- Occupational therapy
- Job retraining
You can receive a percentage of your wages while you recover. Partial disability means you can do some work, while total disability means you are unable to work. WV Code §23-4-6 outlines specific compensation for specific injuries and levels of disability, helping us identify and fight for what you should receive.
How Personal Injury Compensation Works
Filing a personal injury claim, either through insurance or a lawsuit, can allow you to recover damages that will help you do more than just pay bills. These focus on how a construction injury affected your life in terms of quality and enjoyment. You may also have access to treatments of your choice.
Damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Alternative therapies
- Loss of companionship
- Diminished quality of life
- Emotional distress
If you were injured as an employee, workers’ compensation requires you to see approved doctors, dictates what treatments you can receive, and does not offer compensation for the trauma of being injured. In fact, seeking out unapproved doctors or treatments could lead to the termination of your benefits. Emotional damages and reimbursement for alternative care can only be obtained through a personal injury case.
Damages in Fatal Construction Accidents
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that construction worker deaths accounted for 20% of private industry fatalities in 2019. These fatal accidents leave behind loved ones who relied on the deceased for support, income, and companionship.
Workers’ compensation can provide benefits for job-related deaths, allowing family members to receive compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Funeral costs
- Burial expenses
- Lost wages
However, once again, you will not be eligible for damages like pain and suffering, which can only be recovered through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who Can File a Personal Injury Suit
Construction workers agree to a trade-off with workers’ compensation. By receiving medical treatment and benefits from your employer’s insurance, you forfeit your ability to file a personal injury lawsuit. Employees can only sue employers under certain circumstances.
As a result, those who can file a personal injury lawsuit are:
- Bystanders and pedestrians
- Independent contractors
- Workers who suffered a deliberate injury
- Workers injured by a third party
- Workers injured by faulty machinery
- Workers with uninsured employers
In short, if you were not an employee and were injured in a construction accident, you are free to pursue any negligent party for your injury costs. This is true even of contract or “gig” workers.
That doesn’t mean employees don’t have options. For instance, if you were injured due to an equipment manufacturer’s mistake or an independent contractor’s carelessness, you can pursue a personal injury claim against those third parties.
How a Lawyer Can Help Strengthen Your Case
Regardless of whether you are filing for personal injury or seeking help for your workers’ comp case, our first step is information gathering. Through investigation and research by our team, we will compile evidence such as:
- Photos of the site
- CCTV surveillance
- Witness testimony
- Expert analysis
- Medical records
- Company history
These help us get the full picture of what happened and give us fuel to fight back against your story’s challenges in whatever form they take.
Support in Personal Injury Lawsuits
In a personal injury claim, the onus is on you to prove negligence. This involves demonstrating that:
- Someone owed you a duty of care.
- Their action or inaction breached that duty of care.
- A breach of care injured you.
- Your injuries entitle you to damages.
We can employ the evidence mentioned above to satisfy these requirements, establishing a link between someone’s actions and your injuries. That evidence will also aid us in valuing your case, allowing us to know which settlement offers to accept.
Support in Workers’ Compensation Cases
Fortunately, you do not have to prove negligence in workers’ compensation cases; it doesn’t matter who injured you. Instead, the battle you may face is receiving the benefits you deserve. Contact our team if you are dealing with:
- Benefits being denied
- Undervaluing of your injuries
- Discontinuation of treatment
- Pressure to return to work
- Confusing paperwork
Even if you are simply overwhelmed, we can guide you through the process. Most importantly, we can provide specific evidence to support your claim—from investigating the company’s safety history to arguing for the worth of your case.
Statute of Limitations and Filing Deadlines
In order to receive benefits or damages for your construction accident, we can help you file your claim within the proper time frame. For workers’ compensation, you must file within six months of the injury. Personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years of the injury, per WV Code §55-2-12.
We Can Help Identify the Path to Compensation
If you were injured on a worksite, Underwood Law Office’s Huntington lawyers familiar with construction accidents could untangle the web of liability and benefits eligibility. Whether you were a bystander, a contract worker, or an employee, you deserve compensation for injury costs.
Call our office today at (304) 522-0508 to learn how we can help. Your consultation is free!