Construction Accidents are Too Common in NE Pennsylvania
While many businesses faced serious downturns during the pandemic, the construction industry was able to survive. In fact, many economists regard the construction industry as an engine for economic growth– a promising avenue to pull the global economy out of the pandemic-related downturn. According to the Global Forecast for Construction, global construction output will grow by a staggering 42% between the years of 2020 and 2030, and rake in an additional $4.5 trillion dollars (Insurance Business Magazine). As a comparison point, this growth will outpace both the manufacturing and service industries by the end of the decade.
Construction accidents are both more common and more destructive than one might think. According to the 2020 Census of Occupational Injuries, more than 200,000 nonfatal construction injuries occurred. Between serious machinery, suspension systems, and heavy objects, construction is one of the most dangerous sectors in the country today. In fact, in 2020, one out of every five private sector worker deaths was in construction. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, a total of 4,764 fatal accidents were recorded. In the state of Pennsylvania, there were 148 fatalities.
If you or a loved one was injured in a construction accident in the greater Allentown area, Munley Law expresses its deepest sympathies. Our greatest appreciation goes out to those in the construction sector at large, as we recognize that these men and women often put their bodies on the line to create the infrastructure that we rely on. Here we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about what to do if you were involved in a construction accident, and why hiring a lawyer might be your best course of action.
Common Construction Injuries
You may be wondering how your injury compares to others in the construction sector and what you can do to prevent future injury while onsite. According to OSHA, there are four main safety hazards in the construction sector. We’re breaking down the most common types of construction injuries for you below.
- Falls. OSHA includes falls from heights, trips, and slips in this category of injury. With uneven surfaces, it is extremely easy to lose your balance and fall while on the job at a construction site. Similarly, many pieces of equipment require users to climb in and out of them– such as forklifts, bulldozers, and cranes. Improper dismounting techniques can also result in falls. Falls often result in bone breaks, ligament tears or sprains, and cuts and bruises. In severe cases, falls can also result in internal organ damage. If you fell while on the job, seek medical attention immediately.
- Being struck by an object. On the job, construction workers can be struck by falling objects, or be hit by out of control machinery. To avoid these types of accidents, Construction Pros recommends wearing your personal protective equipment at all times.
- Electrocution. Contrary to what you might know about electrocution from the movies, most electrocutions do not end in sudden death. In fact, the majority of electrocutions result in burns. In severe cases, electrocution can also result in nerve damage and even cardiac arrest. To mitigate your chances of electrocution while on the job, OSHA recommends de-energizing all equipment while it is not in use. Similarly, proper training on lockout and tag-out procedures is imperative. Finally, wearing your PPE at all times will also help protect you.
- Being caught in between objects. OSHA defines this category by being caught between two or more objects. This could occur if a vehicle traps someone against a wall or another object, a body part gets stuck in a piece of machinery, or materials collapse unexpectedly. The best way to protect yourself from these types of injuries is to remain aware of your surroundings at all times. These types of injuries can result in bone breaks, ligament tears, internal bleeding, and even in severe cases dismemberment. It is important to note that regardless of your injury type or severity, you may be entitled to certain workers’ compensation benefits, which we will detail more thoroughly in the next section.
Workers’ Compensation for Construction Accident Injuries
The first line of legal action you should take if you are injured in a construction accident in the Allentown area is to file for workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation benefits will help you get back on your feet while you are recovering from your construction accident injury.
If you are a resident of Pennsylvania and were injured while working on a construction site, then you are covered under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Regardless of your employment type, you likely will be covered under this bill, as it extends to seasonal laborers, salaried employees, full time employees, and part time employees alike. Construction workers of all types, therefore, will be entitled to workers’ compensation support if they are injured in a construction accident.
Understanding your Workers’ Compensation Benefits
There are two main components to workers’ compensation benefits. The first is coverage of your medical care. Your employers’ insurance provider will help pay for your medical expenses. This can include physician visits, prescription medications, surgical care, anesthesia, physical therapy, medical equipment, and in some cases reimbursement for travel to and from doctors’ appointments.
The second component is wage protection. In many cases, your injury will in some way impair your ability to work. Workers’ compensation benefits will reimburse a portion of your pre-injury wages. In cases where you are completely unable to work, you will be eligible to file for total disability. In other cases, where your injury only reduces your earning capacity, you may be able to be compensated for the hours you are no longer able to work. This is called partial disability.
More specifically, workers’ compensation will pay you up to two thirds of your pre-injury wages. For injuries occurring on or after January 1st 2022, your weekly stipend will be capped at $1205.00. Each year, the Department of Labor and Industry calculates a statewide payout ceiling, based on a number of different factors. For injuries that occurred before January 1st 2022, you can find your payout maximum listed on the Department of Labor and Industry’s historical compensation schedules.
Limitations to Workers’ Compensation Coverage
There are a few limitations to workers’ compensation benefits, however. First, workers’ compensation benefits extend only to injuries that occur at work. For construction workers, this means that you must be physically onsite in order to qualify. If you are commuting to and from work, for example, you would not be eligible to receive your benefits. Second, if you are determined to have an active role in causing your injury, you will not be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
More specifically, if your accident occurred while you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will not be able to receive workers’ compensation support. Similarly, if your injury was the result of a personal altercation– either with a fellow employee or with a third party– this would also prevent you from seeking support. Finally, if your injury was an act of self harm, you will also be ineligible to receive compensation.
What to Do Following a Construction Accident
The first thing to do after a construction accident is to seek medical attention. Even if you feel that your injuries are minor, seeking medical attention is vital. Many accidents can put the victim into shock, which can mask the true extent of your injury. Moreover, if you decide that you want to file for compensation, receiving a physician’s evaluation will be an important part of the evidence for your case.
Next, you’ll want to report your accident to your supervisor. It is important that you do this as soon as you can. We encourage you to notify supervisor or manager in writing within 21 days of the incident to start receiving your benefits from the time the injury or illness occurred. If you wait to report your injury until after the three week mark, you will instead begin to receive benefits from the date you made your report. In short, the faster you report, the faster you’ll receive your benefits.
After you’ve reported your accident, you’ll then want to move on to filing your claim for workers’ compensation support. You’ll file this directly with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. To kick off the claims process, your employer must submit a First Report of Injury document. It is important to note that if your employer fails to file this report within three years from the date of injury, you will no longer qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Then, you’ll wait to hear back from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry on the status of your claim. If your claim is rejected, do not distress. Many claims are routinely denied as a scare tactic. If you believe you are entitled to support and if your claim is rejected, you may want to consider hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Hiring an Allentown Construction Accident Lawyer
Although you can represent yourself in the claims process, hiring a lawyer will ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. There are a few situations in which we strongly recommend seeking legal representation. They include:
- When your employer denies your claim. The majority of workers’ compensation claims are denied by employers. If this happens to you, remain calm. Seeking legal representation will help you file an appeal and get you the support you are entitled to.
- When the settlement your employer offers you does not cover your expenses. A judge will be the ultimate settlement approver, and most of the time, they will sign off on a settlement as long as it is not outrageously unfair. A lawyer, on the other hand, will represent your interests and will ensure a more favorable outcome.
- Your employer retaliates against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Pennsylvania law prohibits workplace discrimination. If you are fired, demoted, or punished in any other way for filing a workers’ compensation claim, reach out to an attorney immediately to protect your legal right to work.
At Munley Law, we offer risk-free consultations. We encourage you to reach out to us today for free legal advice. We’ll be able to advise you on how best to tackle your case and help you come up with a game plan to get you the compensation you deserve.
Why Munley Law
You should pick Munley Law to represent you because our lawyers are simply the best in the personal injury business. Don’t believe us? Our results speak for themselves. Many of our lawyers have won multi-million dollar settlements for our clients. Our lawyers have therefore earned the honor of being a part of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum– a distinction awarded to less than 1% of lawyers nationwide for their outstanding history receiving record breaking settlements for their victims.
Our team is stacked with a number of award-winning workers’ compensation experts. All of our attorneys are board certified trial lawyers. They have likewise been recognized by their peers and legal organizations across the country. In addition to having our team consistently named on the Best Lawyers in America list, Partner J. Christopher Munley was named “Lawyer of the Year ” in 2016 for his work in Workers’ Compensations-Claimants in the Allentown Metro area.
Our firm has over sixty years of experience representing Northeastern Pennsylvania, and are proud to call the Scranton area our home. Please reach out to us today for your risk free consultation. We look forward to winning you the outcome that you deserve.