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What Factors Impact a Construction Accident Claim?

Dan Brian   |  March 8, 2018   |  

Construction worker giving first aid to a fallen co-worker - Riddle & BrantleyConstruction accidents are common workplace injuries. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), over 21 percent of work-related injuries occur on construction sites. Several are severe and even fatal including falls, being hit by falling objects, electrocutions, and being pinned between vehicles and other large objects.

These types of cases are amongst the most challenging workplace injury cases for they have several impacting factors. If you’ve been injured while on a construction site, you probably have several questions about your rights. We have several attorneys who are North Carolina State Bar Certified Specialists in Worker’s Compensation and can help answer these questions and get you the compensation you deserve.

Does It Matter If I am a Contractor?

The first issue that usually comes up in construction accidents is whether the injured victim was an employee or an independent contractor.  Employees are typically entitled to worker’s compensation benefits while independent contractors usually are not.  But it is often not clear who is an employee and who is an independent contractor.

North Carolina sets forth a number of criteria to evaluate whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor.  The tests include whether a person:

  1. Owns their own tools
  2. Sets their own schedule
  3. Is paid by the hour or by the job

Many of these individuals are misclassified and treated as independent contractors, when in fact they are employees. This issue of “misclassification” has been a hot topic of discussion in both local news and North Carolina legislature.

On job sites with multiple layers of employers, this issue can become even more complex.  On many job sites, injured workers actually recover worker’s compensation benefits from the general contractor, even if they work for a subcontractor, and sometimes, even if they are independent contractors and not employees. In these claims, worker’s compensation benefits can also be increased if the employer is issued a citation by the North Carolina Department of Labor’s O.S.H.A. division. We, therefore, try to ensure that the NCDOL is aware of any serious workplace injuries, and we try to assist their investigation when we believe a citation should be issued.

Can I Recover Worker’s Compensation Benefits?

Construction accident claims also have many other complicated aspects.  One common misconception is the belief that injured workers can only recover worker’s compensation benefits if their employer caused the injury. However, the law in North Carolina is clear that injured workers are almost always eligible to receive worker’s compensation benefits even if their employer did nothing wrong. However, there are numerous exceptions and we have litigated many issues along these lines, like whether an employee was intoxicated at the time of an injury and should, therefore, be barred from recovery, or whether the employee lied on a job application about a prior injury and should be prohibited from receiving benefits because of that omission.

What If I Was Injured by an Employee of Another Company?

One common situation we see is where an employee is hurt on the job while working for his or her employer, but the injury is caused by an employee of a different company. In this instance, we look to pursue both a worker’s compensation claim and a “third-party” personal injury claim. A third-party claim is where we file a personal injury claim against some person or business besides the employer. These claims can be more difficult because the two employers will claim that the injured employee should be limited to one recovery, but they can allow for far more extensive recovery including “pain and suffering” which is not recoverable in a normal worker’s compensation claim.

How Can Riddle & Brantley Help with Construction Accidents?

In 2011, several of our attorneys represented an undocumented immigrant who fell from a platform at a construction site. He sustained many injuries including a disabling head injury. After a long battle, we were able to help our client receive weekly compensation payments and medical care. In addition, due to his need for constant care, we filed petitions to grant his wife and children full guardianship. This process was long but necessary in order to resolve the claim for the value our client and his family deserved.

One of our attorneys also successfully handled one of the seminal cases on whether an injury should be considered a “workplace” injury in the case of Lowe v. RNS Enterprises where an employee was shot and killed by a coworker after an altercation over a personal matter.

If you’ve been injured while working on a construction site, we are here for you. Our attorneys take pride in helping injured workers regardless of how complex the case may be. To learn more, contact us online today or call us at (800) 525-7111. Our representatives are available in real time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.