Construction Workers’ Compensation Claims in North Carolina

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Construction sites are one of the most dangerous work environments possible. Statistics show that roughly one in every ten construction workers suffer an injury on the job each year. Some of these injuries are the natural consequence of a job that requires physical labor, while others are the result of unexpected accidents.

If a construction worker is injured in an on-the-job accident in North Carolina, their most likely option is a workers’ compensation claim. The Wilmington workers’ comp attorneys at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys can represent you during the workers’ compensation claims process and if you need to file an appeal.

Common Construction Site Accidents

Many things can go wrong on a construction worksite. With so many things happening, there are many ways that workers can be injured. Employees are performing physical labor under dangerous conditions. There may be numerous contractors at the site, each one performing a different task.

The deadliest construction site accidents are known as the “fatal four.” These accidents are:

  • Falls from height
  • Electrocution
  • Caught-between (being trapped)
  • Being struck by objects

Construction workers can be injured in other ways. Slip and fall injuries are perhaps the most common injuries at a construction site, as there is debris and slippery substances on the ground.

In addition, construction workers may be injured by overuse of body parts. Construction is a physically exacting job. When lifting or bending over, the construction workers may strain or tear soft tissue.

Construction Site Injuries

Construction workers may injure practically any part of their body in an accident. They could suffer a fracture in a fall or struck-by accident. Alternatively, they could suffer an overuse injury or become hurt from an awkward movement or a sudden physical injury.

Below are some common construction site injuries:

  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Back injuries, such as a herniated disc
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Burns
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Concussions
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal injuries
  • Overuse injuries, such as bursitis or tendonitis

Government Regulations That Employers Must Follow on Construction Job Sites

The federal government has extensive rules and regulations that construction employers must follow. The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) is the government agency responsible for writing and enforcing worksite safety rules. OSHA regulations are very far-reaching, and they touch on practically every aspect of a construction work site.

OSHA regulations for construction include:

  • Training requirements (both ongoing and for new workers)
  • Requirements to provide personal protective equipment
  • Rules for fall protection for employees who are working at heights
  • Prevention of workers’ exposure to hazardous chemicals
  • Putting guards on dangerous machines

Employers can be fined by OSHA if an investigation finds that they violated rules, but they cannot be sued. Nonetheless, construction workers should report any dangerous conditions to OSHA for possible action. An employer cannot retaliate against an employee who files a report with OSHA.

Independent Contractors May Not Be Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Construction workers must be employees to qualify for workers’ compensation coverage. The law only requires employers to purchase coverage for their own employees.

Employers may engage workers as independent contractors. This relationship is not the same as an employer/employee. If you have been injured as an independent contractor, you would not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

However, the construction employer does not get to choose any name that they want to categorize a working relationship. Many companies try to classify employees as independent contractors, often for the purpose of not having to pay for workers’ compensation insurance and overtime.

You can challenge how the employer has classified you based on the ABC Test. You are only an independent contractor if:

  • You are free from the control and direction of the construction company in the performance of your work,
  • The work that you perform is outside the company’s normal course of business,
  • You are customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same type as the work you are performing,

Filing a Lawsuit Against a Third Party for a Personal Injury

Your employer is immune from a personal injury lawsuit under nearly all circumstances. It is in your interest to try to find a third party who you can sue.

Personal injury lawsuits result in higher settlements and awards than workers’ compensation claims. You would be paid both non-economic damages and for your full lost wages.

You may be able to file a claim against:

  • A third-party contractor working at the construction site
  • The manufacturer of a defective piece of work machinery that injured you
  • The electric company, if there were low-hanging power lines or improperly buried utilities
  • The property owner, in a premises liability case
  • The operator of heavy equipment on the site

Even if you are not able to file a personal injury lawsuit, you would still be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits if you suffered a work-related injury. If you were an independent contractor, you may be able to sue the hiring entity for negligence since you cannot claim workers’ compensation benefits.

The most important thing is that you have an experienced attorney investigate your work accident as soon as possible to determine your legal course of action. You have a limited amount of time to notify your employer of a work injury. If not, you may lose the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits entirely.

The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner you understand your legal rights and what compensation you may get.

Contact a Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today

If you have been injured on the job, you may need the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Your case could have complex issues, or you may need to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. The attorneys at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys can represent you in your case, providing you with vital legal advice and advocacy. You can speak to one of our lawyers today when you message us online or call us at 910-405-7751. The consultation is free, and you pay us nothing until you receive compensation.

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