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Construction Injuries FAQ

Q: How do I take steps to assert my rights to a safe workplace?

A: If you feel that your workplace is unsafe, your first action should be to make your supervisor aware of the danger, and then to follow up in writing. If you're still unsuccessful in getting the safety hazard corrected, you can file a complaint at the nearest OSHA office; You can refer to OSHA's website.

Q: If I'm injured while working on a construction site, can I get more than just workers' compensation?

A: Your financial recovery against your employer may be affected by workers' compensation laws, but remember that other parties may be legally responsible for your injuries, including third-party contractors, property owners, or equipment manufacturers.

Your recovery from those parties will not be affected by workers' compensation laws. However, in most states you will have to repay the worker's compensation carrier from your settlement from third parties from any recovery you make.

Q: Who is liable if a person is injured by debris from a construction site while walking on a public sidewalk next to that site?

A: In some circumstances, the injured person will be able to recover damages from the construction company, which has a duty to take reasonable steps to keep public sidewalks near its construction site free from bricks and other debris. If the company fails to remove such obstructions and someone trips and falls, the company may be liable for damages.

Construction companies should also tell pedestrians they could get injured if they stray from the sidewalk. Posting a sign is usually not enough. If a company fails to place barriers and warning lamps by a building pit, for example, the company may be responsible if anyone falls into it and gets injured.

Q: I was injured while working on a large construction project. Can I sue the person who owns the property?

A: Depending on the amount of authority over the work that the property owner exercised, and the amount of control he or she had over the property itself when the injury occurred, the property owner may be legally liable for some or all of your injuries.

Q: Are all on-the-job injuries covered by workers' compensation?

A: Most are. The workers' compensation system is designed to provide benefits to injured workers regardless of whether an injury is caused by the employer's or employee's negligence. But there are some limits. Generally, injuries caused because an employee was intoxicated or using illegal drugs are not covered by workers' compensation.

Q :What happens during an OSHA inspection?

A: The OSHA inspector will meet with the employer and explain the nature of the inspection and will review employer documents pertaining to workplace injuries and hazards. Then the inspector will "walk-around" the plant and physically inspect the workplace.

The employer and a representative of the employees are allowed to accompany the inspector on the walk-around. The inspector will also talk with employees and ask them questions. At the end of the inspection, the inspector will informally tell the employer of any possible violations that may have been uncovered during the inspection.

Q: I was injured on the job, and an investigation showed that my employer violated OSHA regulations. What will this do to support my case?

A: The answer will depend on whether the violation caused your injury, and where your case is heard. Some courts have held that violation of an OSHA regulation is plain negligence where an injury resulted.

Q: Who is responsible for making sure that the construction site where I work is safe?

A: The property owner and general contractor (and in some cases sub-contractors) are responsible for ensuring the safety of workers at a construction site. The extent of each party's responsibility will vary depending on the particular circumstances of your case.

Q: How can I learn more about my injury claim?

A: Attorneys are not cheap, but the cost of not hiring an attorney can be far more significant. Still, you may be reluctant to pay legal fees if you're not sure whether you have a strong claim against your employer. Fortunately, you can have an attorney provide an initial claim review. That way, you'll know more about your case and the process involved moving forward.

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Contact a qualified workers' compensation attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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