Some Useful Information If You Were Involved in Construction Accidents
Click on the frequently asked questions below for answers regarding construction accidents.
- If I am injured on the job, am I entitled to any benefits?
- Am I entitled to bring a claim against other companies or people if their negligence causes my injuries?
- Can I bring a civil claim against my employer or a co-employee if their negligence causes my injuries?
- Does this mean that I have the right to bring two claims for my injuries?
- Do these two claims affect each other?
- Who is a civil claim brought against?
- What can I do to preserve evidence at the construction site?
- Am I required to make a statement?
- What if someone else makes a statement?
- What other information about the occurrence would be helpful?
When you are injured in the course of your employment, you are probably entitled to certain benefits under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Those benefits fall into three broad categories:
- Medical Care – an injured employee is entitled to receive all reasonable and necessary first aid, medical, surgical and hospital services.
- Disability Income – if you lose time from work in order to recover from the injury, you are entitled to receive disability benefits until you return to work.
- Additional Benefits – if your injury results in a permanent disability or serious and permanent disfigurement, further benefits are available. These benefits are to be paid by the employer’s insurance company.
In the construction trades, you often work on job sites with other contractors. If another company or one of its employees causes your injury, you may be entitled to bring a civil claim for money damages.
Generally you are limited to the benefits provided under the Workers’ Compensation Act even if your employer or a co-employee negligently caused your injuries. Workers’ compensation benefits are not based on the fault of the employer, and are available even if no one was at fault in causing the injury.
In a typical construction accident, the injured worker would be entitled to payment of workers’ compensation benefits from the insurance company of his employer. In addition to this first claim, he may be entitled to bring a second claim against any other company whose negligence caused the injuries.
The best description of these two separate claims is that they dovetail with each other. The workers’ compensation insurance company typically has a lien or a right to be paid back from any payment in the civil case. However, this payment comes from the second claim and not directly from the injured worker. In a typical case, the injured worker receives a first settlement or payment from the workers’ compensation insurance company, and then a second from the civil case.
A civil claim would be brought against any company whose negligence caused your injury. The best example would be a general contractor who is responsible for safety on the job site. Other examples would be the property owner, other subcontractors, an architect, or an engineer.
Make a note of the progress of the construction project at the time of your accident. These will assist witnesses at a later date in recalling their activities on the date of your accident. Take whatever steps you can to preserve evidence. If a defective ladder causes your accident and its owner throws it away or lets you keep it, store it in a safe place for future evidence. If it is possible to record photographic evidence of the job site, then do so, either with a camera or video cassette recorder. Be certain to record the surrounding job site in addition to the specific location of your accident. Also, photograph or record the names and addresses from construction trailers or signs. In this way it will be easier to know the relationship of all the contractors, including architects and engineers.
Do not allow any insurance company to record a statement from you. Benefits must be paid to you under the law, and you are not required to provide a recorded statement in order to receive benefits. The insurance company representative has been trained professionally and will use any statement to represent their interests not yours. Additionally, after an accident you may be taking medications that can affect your recollection and ability to think clearly. A recorded statement becomes a permanent record. Remember, the insurance adjuster is a professional at this- you are not. Make no statements regarding fault. Many times an injured worker will be embarrassed about getting hurt and will voice an apology. While this may be human nature, avoid any statement like this. It can be misconstrued later by an insurance adjuster who might say the accident was caused by the injured worker.
If another worker caused your accident and makes a statement at the scene, make a note of it and write it down. If you have a conversation with a witness, an insurance adjuster, or anyone else regarding your accident, make a note of it. Include in your note the date, time, and location of the conversation, who was present, and what was said.
Much of this information will need to be discovered through other witnesses, but to the extent you recall such information, you should write down the following:
1. About You:
- Date you arrived at job site
- Status of project when you arrived
- Job title and duties
- Immediate superior
- Immediate subordinates
- Coworkers employed near you
- Hours of typical work day
- Income and benefits paid
- Steward on this job
2. Safety Meetings:
- Who called meeting
- Where held
- Dates and times of meetings
- Who attended meeting
- What was discussed, especially regarding your accident
- Written documents given out
- Purpose or function of meeting
- Safety manuals used in meeting
- OSHA rules discussed
- Who made
- What inspected
- What purpose
- Who employed inspector
- Who present
- Date of Inspection
- Changes in job after inspection
4. Post-Accident Investigation:
- Any written report you are aware of
- Who wrote report
- Who received report
- Oral conversations regarding investigation
- Who made statements for investigation
- Changes made in procedures to reduce hazard
- OSHA investigation conducted
- OSHA fines issued
- Newspaper or other media stories regarding accident or project
This content is intended to provide general information and guidance only. You should see an attorney and obtain advice if you have questions or concerns regarding your work injury. Most lawyers will not charge any fee for an initial consultation to review your case. Only by asking questions and obtaining answers will you obtain the rights and benefits to which you are entitled.