Some jobs are inherently less safe than others—with construction being one of the most dangerous occupations you can have. In fact, statistics show that one in ten workers in the construction industry get injured annually.
It’s not uncommon for serious injuries to happen to those who use heavy machinery to help construct the buildings, roads, and infrastructure in Chicago, IL and throughout the state. When a worker suffers a serious injury because of someone else’s negligence, our construction accident lawyers at Thomas Law Offices can help clients recover compensation for their losses.
As a laborer, you may be aware of your right to Illinois workers’ compensation commission benefits if you are injured on the job. However, if those workers’ compensation benefits are not sufficient, or you believe the at-fault party should be held responsible for the harm they caused you, then a personal injury attorney may advise you of your right as an injured worker to file a workers’ compensation claim or to take some other type of legal action.
At Thomas Law Offices, we believe that injured construction workers have the right to the maximum compensation they need to make a full recovery and reestablish order in their everyday lives.
Construction Site Accidents in Chicago
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of February 2020, 161,400 workers were employed in construction in the Chicago metropolitan area and surrounding locales. Depending on the line of work and what the project entails, construction workers could be plumbers, electricians, pipefitters, carpenters, equipment operators, or laborers.
Every year, nearly 5,000 workers lose their lives in workplace accidents. Approximately 20% of those fatalities result from construction site accidents.
Types of Construction Accidents
Construction laborers are often tasked with working in extreme conditions, including in high temperatures, at towering heights, and with powerful machinery. Therefore, when negligence results in someone else’s injury, it’s crucial to determine why the accident happened. To do so, you first need to conclude what type of accident you were in.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the most common construction accidents include the following:
The majority of construction accidents are related to transportation, i.e. car crashes or truck accidents. Whether workers are struck by a vehicle on the job site or a piece of equipment hits them, transportation accidents usually result in broken bones and crushed limbs.
Violence by persons or animals
There’s the potential for workers to be around hostile people or animals when working on a construction project. Suffered injuries can be severe if someone tries to harm a construction worker or an animal attack occurs on the property where they’re working.
Contact with objects and equipment
When a construction worker is near equipment that’s being operated improperly or machinery that malfunctions, they risk getting stuck in between objects like heavy equipment.
Slips, trips, and falls
While any slip or trip can result in serious injuries. Most of these injuries to the spine, back, neck, or head, such as traumatic brain injuries, are caused by dangerous fall accidents that happen from significant heights. When working on roofs or scaffolding at construction sites, the workers need to access the proper safety equipment to keep them from falling. Construction accidents like falls often result in injured victims suffering spinal cord injuries.
Exposure to harmful substances or environments
It’s not uncommon for construction workers to be exposed to dangerous chemicals. If this happens over a long time, and they do not have the proper protection, they could develop an occupational disease.
Fires and explosions
When working with wiring or any situation involving flammable substances, all workers must understand what precautions to take to avoid starting a fire or getting burned.
While the construction accidents above are the most common, that is not where the list ends. No matter what type of accident you’ve experienced, a Chicago construction accident attorney can evaluate your situation and determine if there are grounds for a claim.
What To Do If You’ve Been Injured at Work
If you sustained injuries on a job site from a fall, structural collapse, electrocution, or any other construction site hazard, there are steps you should take to protect yourself and your future.
Seek Medical Attention
First, it’s imperative for all construction accident victims to seek immediate medical attention. No one should refuse medical care if it’s offered at construction sites. Whether victims receive treatment at the job or not, they should still go to the hospital to ensure all construction site injuries are properly documented so they’ll know what their treatments and recovery processes will look like.
While Illinois workers’ compensation laws cover many employees in the state when they get hurt, not all individuals employed in the construction industry are eligible for such benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits are often reserved for employees and not independent contractors. Individuals hurt in construction accidents can benefit from consulting with a workers’ compensation law attorney to learn what their rights are.
Workers’ compensation cases are unique in that there are specific reporting requirements that apply to them. Injured workers may lose their right to workers’ comp benefits unless they follow a set protocol in handling their cases.
Report the Construction Accident
No matter what type of claim it ends up being, it’s important that you report the accident to the construction site supervisor. They will file a report with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which may cite them for safety violations for what happened.
Even if this regulatory authority doesn’t find that the construction company violated any safety regulations, reporting the incident ensures there will be an official record of the accident that their insurance company can refer to. The information could also be used to determine what the company needs to do in the future to ensure worker safety at their construction sites.
Look Up Chicago Construction Accident Attorneys
Once you’ve sought medical treatment and reported the incident to your supervisor, you’ll want to get in touch with an attorney and have them fully explain your legal rights and options. You may file a claim with the insurance company depending on who was deemed to be at fault.
Understanding the Injury Claim Process
There are several steps involved in filing a successful construction accident claim, including:
Determining if You Have a Valid Construction Accident Case
When you schedule a consultation with our firm, we’ll evaluate what you’ve been through and determine how we can help.
Gathering Evidence in Construction Accident Cases
If your attorney finds that filing a claim is the right call, we’ll start by gathering all records related to your lawsuit. This could include medical bills and records and insurance policy information. Essentially, those documents will help your attorney understand the severity of your injury and establish negligence.
Once your personal injury lawyer has the necessary documents, they’ll start investigating your accident. This could mean gathering dashcam or security camera footage and police records. That information will be used to build your case.
How Chicago Construction Accident Lawyers Negotiate Fair Settlements in Personal Injury Cases
Finally, your legal representative can focus on negotiating with the defense to help get you the compensation you deserve. While most claims do settle outside of court, it’s important to note that in the event that is not possible, your attorney can help you prepare for trial and present your case in the strongest form possible.
Determining Liability for a Construction Accident in Illinois
Because construction site accidents arise from different factors, there is a possibility that multiple parties could be held accountable for your catastrophic injuries. Therefore, when you work with a construction site accident lawyer, they will conduct a thorough investigation to determine who caused your accident and why. Some of the most common responsible parties include:
- Construction companies
- General, sub, and prime contractors
- Property owners
- Insurance companies
If you were able to preserve any evidence from the accident or know of a witness who is willing to speak on your behalf, we’d use that information to begin determining who to hold responsible. It’s likely your claim will also rely on the rules and regulations your construction company is supposed to abide by.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration Regulations
OSHA is the government agency responsible for protecting construction and other industry workers from unsafe conditions. The agency has specific regulations pertaining to commonly and uncommonly performed tasks on small and large construction projects.
OSHA keeps track of violations and citations when someone is injured, or a report is made. Common violations include lack of fall protection, hazardous communications, dangerous scaffolding, improper respiratory protection, inadequate control of hazardous energy, and improper use of machinery and machine guarding.
If you’ve been injured on the job and believe your site violated an OSHA regulation, you have the right to file a confidential safety and health complaint. OSHA inspectors visit construction sites to determine if the hazard is real and what should be done in response.
Construction Accident Victims’ Eligibility for Compensation
If you’ve suffered construction accident injuries, then you’re likely experiencing physical, financial, and psychological pain. Depending on your situation, your family could be dealing with the ramifications as well. Fortunately, the justice system allows injured workers to seek compensation for their losses after a Chicago, IL construction site accident by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
When you file a claim, your lawyer will evaluate what you’ve been through and the future implications of your accident to determine how to value your case. In most personal injury claims, you’ll be able to seek economic and noneconomic damages as part of your fair settlement demand.
Economic damages are calculable and can cover lost wages, medical expenses, physical therapy, counseling, property damage, and ongoing living costs. Noneconomic damages are more challenging to calculate, as they’re based on subjective forms of suffering, like physical pain and mental anguish. In addition, it’s likely your non-economic damages will be more significant if you’ve suffered a permanent impairment.
It’s important to remember that all claims in construction injury cases are subject to a statute of limitations. According to Illinois law, plaintiffs only have so long to file an injured construction worker claim. Injured parties who fail to file their construction accident lawsuit on time become ineligible for compensation.
While every situation is different, your lawyer will be able to determine just how long you have.
If, for example, a local government is responsible for your construction site injury, you will only have one year from the accident’s date to pursue your claim. However, if a private person’s negligence is what caused your injury, you’ll likely have up to four years to get your lawsuit filed. On the other hand, if the accident was not the fault of a specific person or entity but rather something more general like unsafe working conditions, you’d only have two years to file.
Get Help From a Chicago Construction Accident Lawyer
If you’re ready to get your life back in order after an accident on the job, contact a Chicago construction accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices today. Depending on your situation, our law firm may be able to help you understand your workers’ compensation rights and collect additional compensation for future medical bills or lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Schedule a free consultation with our construction site law firm today to learn more.