Whenever researchers make a list of the professions with the highest rates of workplace injuries, construction is consistently at or near the top. Construction sites are inherently hazardous places, full of busy workers carrying tools and moving heavy equipment. At larger construction sites, there may be dozens of workers representing multiple employers, all performing their tasks next to or on top of each other. Workers may do their best to keep themselves and their fellow workers safe, but accidents happen. When they happen in a hazard-filled place like a busy construction site, it’s nearly inevitable that someone will get hurt.
The limits of workers’ compensation
After a construction worker is injured on the job, they may be left with enormous medical expenses and lost wages. This can send their whole families into financial turmoil.
North Carolina’s worker’s compensation program is designed to help these workers and their families cope with the aftermath of a workplace accident by providing them with benefits that pay for their medical care and lost wages. The system doesn’t always work smoothly, and sometimes the injured and their families need the help of an attorney to fight for the full amount in benefits they deserve.
There is another serious limitation to workers’ compensation: Its benefits are meant to be an exclusive remedy. In other words, the workers’ compensation process is meant to take the place of any other legal action. To recover benefits, the injured worker doesn’t have to prove that their employer did anything wrong, just that the injury occurred while they were in the course of their employment. But in exchange, a person who collects workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace accident is barred from filing a personal lawsuit against their employer involving the same accident. Injured workers who feel their employer caused their accident may have to choose between filing a lawsuit and filing for workers’ compensation.
Note that this limit on workers’ compensation applies only to the relationship between the injured worker and their employer. This means an injured worker may pursue legal action against a third party.
For instance, in a construction site accident, a carpenter may be badly injured due to the negligence of an electrician working at the same site. In this case, the carpenter may file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits through their employer and also file a personal injury claim against the electrician and/or the electrician’s employer.
Third party claims can be good ways for the injured and their families to recover all the compensation they need and deserve after a workplace accident.
Anyone who has been injured in a construction site accident can learn more about their legal options by speaking with an experienced attorney.