Progress is often marked by new construction, providing the residences and work environments we all rely on. Yet the downside is that construction sites remain hazardous places for workers, where a lack of adequate precautions can lead to severe injuries and fatalities.
Even with comprehensive safety regulations established by OSHA, the construction industry remains the sector with the highest number of workplace deaths and the sixth-highest number of nonfatal work injuries.
Worker’s compensation should cover injured construction workers if they are W2 employees. This is a no-fault system that pays for medical care and replaces about two-thirds of the injured person’s regular pay while they are out of work due to an injury.
Sometimes, people interpret the no-fault system to mean that they can’t be turned down for worker’s compensation, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case. You can’t be rejected just because an accident was your fault, but there are numerous other reasons the employer or insurance carrier may deny your claim.
Can a Construction Site Accident Attorney Help With a Worker’s Compensation Claim?
Yes, we can assist you with filing a claim or fighting a claim denial if you’ve already received one. Here are some of the many ways a construction site accident attorney will work to protect your rights and secure the worker’s compensation benefits you deserve:
Sometimes injured workers tell us they can’t get worker’s compensation because they are a contractor, not an employee, and they want to know if other options exist for pursuing damages.
It’s true that contractors don’t qualify for worker’s compensation, but it’s also very common for employers to misclassify workers as “contractors” when they’re actually employees. If you are actually doing the work of an employee based on your state’s rules for classification, you may still be eligible for worker’s compensation.
Additionally, if we discover that a “contractor” is, in fact, an employee, we can not only pursue their worker’s compensation benefits but other back benefits they’ve been denied, such as health insurance or overtime pay.
Are You a Contractor if You Receive 1099 Tax Forms?
You might be, but the 1099 itself does not determine whether or not you are a contractor. It simply means your employer chose to classify you that way. Here are some other things that do not prove one way or the other whether you are a contractor:
- Your employer’s assertion that you are a contractor
- An agreement you signed saying you are a contractor
- Not being on the payroll
- An EIN number or paperwork for your own contracting business
- Previous work as an independent contractor
- The fact that using contractors is industry-standard
What if You Are a Contractor?
There may be other options for pursuing compensation if you are not eligible for worker’s compensation.
It’s helpful to understand that worker’s compensation is meant to provide a solution for workers and employers, who might otherwise spend a lot of time and resources arguing a civil case after every injury. But if you’re a contractor and ineligible for the worker’s compensation system, you can pursue a civil case to recover your damages.
However, personal injury cases are not based on a no-fault system, so you will need to show evidence that your employer was negligent.
In some situations, a third party was negligent rather than the employer. For example, if you were injured by a defective table saw at the job site, you might have a case against the saw manufacturer.
If You Qualify for Worker’s Compensation, Can You Also File a Third-Party Claim?
Yes. While you can’t sue your employer in most situations where you qualify for worker’s compensation, you can still sue another party that caused your injuries.
This is sometimes a good solution for people who are out of work for an extended period of time or have serious injuries. worker’s compensation only pays about two-thirds of the worker’s regular salary, and many people struggle to manage their bills with this reduction in income.
If you qualify for a third-party claim, you can seek compensation for the rest of your damages, including income that wasn’t replaced and pain and suffering.
Filing a Worker’s Compensation Claim
Your attorney will also help you ensure your claim is filed correctly and on time – many worker’s compensation claims are denied due to paperwork errors or missed deadlines. If your employer is giving you a hard time about getting the documents you need or assisting in the process, we can remind them of their legal obligations.
What if Your Worker’s Compensation Claim Is Denied?
Aside from errors and deadline issues, there are a number of other reasons an insurance company or employer can reject a worker’s compensation claim, including:
The employer denies your accident/injury happened, or the insurance company doesn’t believe you were really injured.
These situations can be infuriating – you were injured at work, you’re in pain, you can’t work, and your boss pretends the whole thing never happened. Or, your boss acknowledges the accident, but the insurance company adjuster thinks you’re faking or exaggerating your injuries.
Even your supervisor, who might have initially supported you, may side with the insurance company to prevent higher insurance premiums.
There are a few steps you can take to reduce the risk of this situation:
- Report your injury to your boss in a way you can prove immediately or as soon as possible. Even if you verbally tell your supervisor about the accident, you should still follow up with an email from a personal account reiterating what happened and that you will seek worker’s compensation for your medical care. Using your personal email rather than a company account is necessary because your employer can’t cut off your access to your personal account, so you will always be able to provide proof that you notified the employer on a specific date.
- Make a list of any witnesses to your injury or accident in case we need to speak with them later.
- Seek medical care for your injuries right away. If it’s a severe emergency, you can go straight to the emergency room. Otherwise, you should ask your HR representative or supervisor for a list of approved healthcare providers for worker’s compensation cases. (In many states, your employer has the right to choose your healthcare provider unless it’s an emergency.)
- If your supervisor gives you any pushback about seeing a healthcare provider, politely but firmly remind them that you are injured, and the sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you will be able to get back to work. Sometimes, that solves the problem. However, in other situations, a supervisor may try to convince you that your injuries aren’t that bad, that they “can’t find” the list of providers, that you don’t want to waste a doctor’s time with this, etc. If this happens, immediately document your request to see a doctor for your injuries through an email from your personal account so you can prove when you started trying to get medical care. (If your company has an HR department, try to find an email address for anyone in HR and CC them.) Then, call a construction site accident lawyer immediately for further advice.
These steps are helpful in establishing your injury, but there is still a chance the insurance company, your employer, or both will claim the accident or injury didn’t happen. Sometimes, this occurs in cases where there were no witnesses to an accident – your employer may decide that if no one saw the accident, it didn’t happen.
Your lawyer can work to find other types of evidence, such as recovering video from a security camera on the job site or checking for witnesses you may not have known about.
In other cases we’ve seen, the insurance company decides that an injury isn’t real or isn’t serious. Often, this occurs in cases where the injury is diagnosed mostly or entirely based on the injured person’s symptoms.
Soft tissue injuries, for example, generally don’t show up on imaging, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real. Your attorney will review your medical records and work to show the validity of your injuries.
The insurance company thinks your injuries didn’t happen at work.
This is a slightly different variation from the previous reason. In this situation, the insurance company accepts that you did have an injury, usually because there is clear medical proof, like an X-ray of a broken bone, results of a nerve conduction test, etc.
Instead of trying to argue that you’re faking, they simply say that your injuries didn’t happen at work. Again, this might be an issue if no one else saw your accident, with the insurance company claiming you could have broken your hand anywhere.
This argument is also especially common if you have a repetitive motion injury, such as a shoulder injury from continuously swinging a hammer. The insurance company could say that you actually hurt your shoulder playing sports or doing some other leisure activity rather than on the job site.
As frustrating as these situations are, your construction site accident lawyer can compile evidence to show that your injuries actually happened at work.
The insurance company cites an exception to the “no-fault” rule.
In most cases, the insurance company can’t reject your claim simply because you made a mistake and got hurt at work. However, there are a few related reasons why they can reject your claim:
- Your injuries were self-inflicted. Most of our clients who face claim denials for “self-inflicted” injuries are shocked. Sometimes, they ask why anyone would want to go through a painful injury so they can lose a third of their pay while they recover. The truth is that self-inflicted injuries don’t happen often, but that won’t stop the insurance company from using them as an excuse not to pay a claim. We’ll review all the evidence and build a case showing that your injuries were accidental and that you deserve worker’s compensation coverage.
- You started a fight. “Starting a fight” is an offshoot of the “self-inflicted injury” denial. In some cases, construction workers are injured in a physical altercation on the job site for various reasons. If you were simply defending yourself, this isn’t a valid reason to deny worker’s compensation coverage, but the insurance company could claim you started the fight. We’ll talk to witnesses, look for video, and examine all available evidence in an effort to show the other party started the fight.
- You were injured while committing a crime. This is another situation that doesn’t happen quite as often as insurance companies and employers think it does. Sometimes, workers are accused of trying to steal materials or commit some other crime when they are hurt. Again, we’ll investigate thoroughly and study the evidence so we can demonstrate your innocence.
- You intentionally violated company policy. Most construction workers take safety and other job site protocols seriously, but sometimes, the insurance company has different ideas. They may attribute your injuries to a lack of regard for safety protocols. For instance, they might claim you fell off a roof because you didn’t follow the proper protocols for using the available safety equipment. But the reality might be that the company provided poorly maintained equipment that failed while you were using it correctly. We will work to show what really happened in these cases.
Finding out your employer or their insurance carrier questions your injuries or how they occurred is frustrating, but we implore you not to argue with the employer or insurance company yourself.
It’s too easy to inadvertently say something that helps their case. The best course of action is to call a construction site accident lawyer immediately so we can take the appropriate steps to help fight your denial.
Seek Assistance From a Construction Site Accident Law Firm Today
Unfortunately, construction site accidents have increased. If you or a loved one have experienced an injury at a construction site, you deserve worker’s compensation benefits for your medical care and lost income while you recover.
Unfortunately, insurance companies and employers sometimes make it difficult for injured construction workers to access these benefits. For a complimentary consultation with a skilled construction site accident attorney, please reach out to The Fakhouri Firm Accident and Injury Lawyers at (312) 999-9990.
Robert S. Fakhouri, the founder and lead attorney, relentlessly advocates for injured people, including construction workers and others hurt on the job. Having graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, he honed his legal expertise as a litigation associate before establishing his own firm at the age of 25.
In his spare time, he provides straightforward legal advice to his many social media followers.