New construction heralds progress and the production of buildings for people to live and work in. But a construction site can be a dangerous place, and without the proper care, workers could be seriously hurt or even killed.
Despite detailed safety regulations set in place by OSHA, construction continues to lead the list of industries with the most fatal work injuries.
Here are some of the more common types of injuries that occur on construction sites:
- Slips, trips, and falls. Often, when people think about construction site injuries, they picture something going wrong with heavy machinery. That can certainly happen, but you’re more likely to be injured by falling. While falls from a height – such as a rooftop or a scaffold – are dangerous, many construction workers are also injured in falls on the same level. The most common causes are debris on the ground or spilled liquids like paint or other chemicals used on the job site. Trenches, ditches, and holes are all potential fall hazards, especially if they aren’t clearly marked or blocked off.
- Falling objects. Being hit by an object is also a potential cause of injury. Frequently, the worker is on the ground, or on a lower floor, and an object like a toolbox or piece of equipment falls and strikes them. Workers could also be injured by moving objects on the same level – such as flying debris – or being caught between objects. Hard hats and safety goggles go a long way to reducing risk, but they can’t prevent every injury.
- Electrical shocks or burns. Job sites often require a number of power tools, equipment, generators, and the installation of electric wiring in a new building. Without the proper precautions, workers can suffer a shock or electrical burn.
- Lack of appropriate protective gear for the job. Many construction tasks are relatively safe with the right protective gear, and supervisors should ensure that workers have the correct safety equipment for each job. Sometimes, an accident occurs when a worker misplaces their goggles, gloves, or another piece of safety equipment and thinks they will just do one quick task before finding this equipment. While no one wants to stop work to look for their goggles, it’s important to always use safety equipment, no matter how small the job.
- Repetitive motion injuries. Not every injury happens suddenly. In some cases, a worker who makes the same motion repeatedly for months or years at a time will develop a repetitive motion injury. For instance, a worker whose job involves swinging a sledgehammer could develop a shoulder injury over time.
What Are the Benefits of Seeking Help From an Illinois Construction Site Accident Attorney?
When you or a loved one has been hurt on a job site, you probably assume that workers’ compensation will cover your medical bills and lost wages. However, there are many pitfalls in the process of pursuing workers’ comp, and some injured people face denials or delays.
At the same time, a worker who is a contractor rather than an employee may not have workers’ compensation protection. An experienced construction site accident attorney can assist you in finding the best solution for any of these situations.
Which Employers Are Required to Provide Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Illinois?
The state of Illinois requires employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance for most employees who work, might be injured, or do business in Illinois. Unlike other states, they do not have a minimum number of employees to necessitate coverage.
Even if a business has one part-time employee, they need this insurance (with a few exceptions for unusual situations).
Remember that workers’ compensation only applies to regular employees, not contractors. Employees usually fill out a W2 when they start a job; contractors fill out a W-9.
However, employers sometimes misclassify employees as contractors, and if it turns out you’ve been acting as an employee while categorized as a contractor, you might qualify for workers’ compensation.
If not, your attorney can help you find other ways of pursuing damages for your on-the-job injury.
Why Are Workers’ Comp Claims Denied?
About 7 percent of workers’ comp claims are initially denied, although many of these are eventually paid. There are a number of reasons workers’ comp claims are often rejected – here are some of the most common ones:
Paperwork and Deadline Errors
Frequently, we review claim denials and learn that there was a mistake on the claim, a section was left blank, or there were other errors. Filling out a workers’ compensation claim can be complicated and confusing, and it’s easy to make mistakes.
If you haven’t filled out your claim, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help ensure everything is correct. If your claim has already been filed and denied due to a typo or other error, we can correct and resubmit it for you.
Under Illinois law, you have three years to file a workers’ compensation claim, but you must notify your employer of the injury within 45 days of it occurring. Be sure to notify your employer in writing in a way that you can trace.
We’ve met people who told their boss about the injury verbally or used a company email or phone that they later lost access to. Unfortunately, these efforts can leave you unprotected if your employer claims you never told them.
Ideally, notify them using a personal email address or phone number that your employer has no control over, and be sure to save the email or text message in case you need it as proof.
The Insurance Company Could Question Whether You Were Really Injured
Sometimes, the insurance adjuster doesn’t believe your accident happened – especially if there were no witnesses to the events that led to your injury. Or, they question whether you could have received such a serious injury from what they may refer to as a “minor” incident.
Even if your supervisor initially believed you, they may take the insurance company’s side to avoid higher insurance premiums.
In these cases, a construction site accident lawyer will work to find evidence of your injury. In some situations, we can identify additional witnesses the injured person wasn’t aware of or even locate a video showing the accident.
But because memories fade, security recordings get erased, and other evidence can degrade or disappear, we recommend you contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
The Insurance Company May Acknowledge You Were Injured But Dispute How You Were Injured
Often, this takes the form of arguing that your injury didn’t happen on the job or from the job – again, this is more likely if there were no witnesses or if you have a repetitive motion injury.
For example, they might argue that your shoulder injury is the result of occasionally playing basketball or doing another leisure activity instead of using a sledgehammer most days at the job site.
Or they might suggest that there’s no evidence you slipped and fell at the job site, and maybe you slipped and fell at home instead.
These suggestions can be very upsetting to someone who has worked hard and suffered an injury on a construction site, but please resist the urge to argue with the insurance adjuster. The more you talk, the more information you give them to misinterpret and twist to fit their narrative.
Instead, call a construction site accident attorney. We’ll investigate your accident, gather evidence supporting your claim, and work to refute the insurance company’s argument.
Finding Ways Around the No-Fault Rule
Workers’ compensation is intended to relieve both employers and employees of the burden of proving fault every time someone is injured on the job. For this reason, it’s a no-fault system, and the insurance adjuster can’t deny your claim simply because you were at fault.
However, there are some exceptions:
- They can claim your injuries were self-inflicted. Having an accident because of a momentary lapse in judgment is not grounds for a denial, but intentionally hurting yourself is. In reality, this is a rare occurrence – workers’ compensation only pays about two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay, so faking an injury amounts to lower wages, not a financial windfall. Still, the insurance adjuster may argue that you hurt yourself so you could get two-thirds of your salary to stay home from work. We’ll investigate and present evidence that your injuries were not self-inflicted.
- They can claim you started a fight. If you were injured in an altercation with a coworker or someone else present on the job site, your claim could be denied if the insurance adjuster believes you started the fight. This would be considered a “self-inflicted” injury, even if you couldn’t predict the injuries you’d suffer in the fight.
- They can claim you were hurt while committing a crime. This one doesn’t happen as often, but occasionally, insurance adjusters jump to unfounded conclusions due to some ambiguity or conflict in witness accounts.
- They can claim you intentionally violated company policy. There are several ways this can play out. Your employer might claim you violated a policy you followed to avoid their insurance premiums going up. Or, maybe your employer specifically told you to violate the policy on this particular occasion, then lied about it to the insurance company, claiming you did so on your own initiative. Sometimes, an accident or a situation out of your control is incorrectly interpreted as “intentional.”
In all of these situations, your construction site accident lawyer will work to show that your claim is valid and you deserve your workers’ comp benefits.
What Is a Third-Party Claim?
As discussed earlier, workers’ compensation replaces two-thirds of your typical pay while you’re out of work due to your injuries. It also covers your medical costs.
However, it doesn’t cover other damages that a person could normally recover in a civil suit, such as all their lost income or pain and suffering.
Unfortunately, you can’t sue your employer in most circumstances where you are eligible for workers’ compensation. There are a few exceptions, such as when an employer knowingly fails to provide workers’ compensation insurance.
This results in fines for the employer and opens up a legal pathway for the employee to sue for damages in civil court.
It’s important to understand that while workers’ compensation prevents most lawsuits against an employer, it doesn’t prevent lawsuits against any other party who caused or contributed to the injured worker’s injuries.
This could apply in situations where you are injured while working but by someone who doesn’t work for your employer – a contractor, a delivery driver, a stranger who wanders onto the job site, etc.
A third-party claim may also be possible if you were injured due to defective equipment or materials from another company.
Your attorney will review your case and help you determine if a third-party claim could be an option. If so, you can file a third-party claim even if you already received workers’ compensation benefits to recover damages not covered by workers’ comp.
Get Help From an Illinois Law Firm Specializing in Construction Site Accidents
If you or a loved one have suffered a construction site injury, your claim could be rejected for a number of reasons. You could find yourself fighting for medical care or lost income benefits – with the insurance company and/or your boss on the other side of the conflict.
While these situations can be stressful and difficult to navigate, you deserve to access your workers’ compensation benefits. Please contact The Fakhouri Firm Accident and Injury Lawyers for a free consultation with an experienced Illinois construction site accident attorney.
Call us today at (312) 999-9990.
Founder and lead attorney Robert S. Fakhouri works to be a relentless advocate for injured people, including construction workers. After graduating from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, he was a legal clerk and litigation associate before opening his own firm at the age of 25.
Mr. Fakhouri has recovered millions for his clients. When he’s not fighting for them in a courtroom or negotiating with insurance companies, he delivers no-nonsense legal advice to his many followers on social media. He speaks English, Arabic, and Spanish.