Protecting Your Rights After A Construction Site Injury
By Andrew R. Bronsnick
It’s no secret that working in the construction industry can be hazardous to your health. According the U.S. Bureau of Labor, almost 7 million construction workers are injured every year, and nearly 1,000 are killed in construction site accidents annually, whether it’s in falls from heights, falling objects, the malfunction of tools or equipment, or from poorly constructed or maintained ladders or scaffolding. When you’ve been injured on a construction site, what are your options?
File A Workers’ Compensation Claim
Typically, the first thing you’ll do after a construction site injury is file a workers’ compensation claim. There are only two requirements to be eligible for workers’ compensation—you must have suffered an injury and it must have been in the course of your employment. Injuries sustained on legitimate breaks, including lunch breaks, will often qualify you for workers’ compensation benefits. If your claim is approved (a high percentage are initially rejected), you can start to receive workers’ compensation benefits within weeks. New Jersey doesn’t technically consider workers’ compensation to be income replacement, but views it as a disability payment. Nonetheless, the amount you receive will be based on the degree of injury, as well as your average weekly wage for the last 52 weeks.
File A Third Party Claim
The workers’ compensation laws apply only to injuries resulting from the negligence of your employer or a co-employee. If you were hurt because of the carelessness of some other party, such as the manufacturer of a tool or machine; or the driver of another vehicle (who was not your employer or a co-employee); you can file a lawsuit in court for damages. In fact, if your injury was caused in part by your employer or a co-employee and in part by an unrelated third party, you can file a lawsuit and a workers’ compensation claim at the same time.