While many sectors like food, entertainment, and hospitality faced serious downturns during the pandemic, the construction industry was able to survive unscathed. With lockdowns increasing the time we all spent at home, the demand for new buildings increased. In fact, the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that more homes were built in Pennsylvania in 2021 than in any year since 2006.
In addition to increased demand for housing, the pandemic also created an increased apetite for home renovations– an added revenue stream for the already booming construction industry. Home renovation platform, Houzz, notes that home renovations in 2020 hit record numbers. According to its year-end study, home renovations were up by at least 15% in 2020, with homeowners spending a median amount of $15,000 on their home renovation projects (Houzz & Home 2021 Study).
As such, the construction industry did not just survive, but in fact, thrived. Its record growth is a trend that is likely to continue well into the next decade. According to the Global Forecast for Construction, global construction output will grow by a staggering 42% between the years of 2020 and 2030, and bring 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.
Growing Construction Industry Could Lead to More Injured Construction Workers
On American soil, we can expect our domestic construction economy to grow in step with the global one. In Pittsburg, and more broadly in the Western Pennsylvania area, this will likely translate to more job openings for construction workers, bigger and more numerous projects, and potentially even higher pay. While such growth will likely enrich the local construction economy, it will most likely come with a price: tighter deadlines, longer hours, and potentially more numerous construction accidents.
Construction accidents are more common and more destructive than people might think. According to the Census of Occupational Injuries, more than 200,000 nonfatal construction injuries occurred in 2020. Dealing with serious machinery, suspension systems, and heavy objects, construction workers face some of the most dangerous conditions amongst workers today. In fact, in 2020, one out of every five private-sector worker deaths was in the construction industry. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, a total of 4,764 fatal accidents were recorded. Specifically, in the state of Pennsylvania, there were 148 fatalities.
If you or a loved one was injured in a construction accident in Pittsburgh, Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys expresses its deepest sympathies. We recognize that the brave men and women of the construction industry put themselves at risk to create the infrastructure that we all rely on. We thank all construction workers for their sacrifices. In this article, we’ll cover workers’ compensation for construction workers, how to calculate the value of your claim, when you should hire a lawyer, and what to do immediately following the accident.
Making Your Workers Compensation Case
Your case will most likely be based on a workers’ compensation claim (more on this to come). Your workers’ compensation claim will be filed with your employer’s insurance company. You can expect that your employer’s insurance company will respond by presenting you with a settlement value. If you feel that this value is unfair, you might want to consider taking the case to court. Working with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine just how much your claim is worth, and advise on whether or not you should settle.
You can also consider pursuing other legal action, to file for damages for pain and suffering, specific loss, and wrongful death if your accident took the life of a loved one.
What is Workers’ Compensation for Construction Workers?
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.
For various reasons, some construction companies will misclassify employers as contractors. This can make receiving workers’ compensation benefits a little more complicated, as your employer’s insurance company may argue that you are not a true employee. If you are classified as a contractor, working with a workers’ compensation attorney will likely be your best bet at receiving the benefits you are entitled to by law.
Breaking Down Workers’ Compensation Coverage
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.
It is important to note, though, that in the state of Pennsylvania, all employers are required to pay for their employee’s medical care if the accident happened while you were on the clock. This is true regardless of the status of your workers’ compensation claim.
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 on Workers’ Comp for Construction Workers
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 on-site in order to qualify. If you are commuting to and from work, for example, you would not be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Second, if you are determined to have an active role in causing your injury, you will also be unable to claim workers’ compensation.
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, this would also prevent you from being compensated.
Calculating the Value of Your Workers Compensation Claim
The first step to seeking compensation is trying to figure out how much you are owed for your injury. You’ll then use this value to officially submit your claim to your employer’s insurance provider. To get an estimate of how much your claim is worth, start by calculating the cost of your medical care. A doctor’s visit will help determine what type of care you will need to recover from your injury.
After the doctor gives you a roadmap to recovery, you’ll want to figure out whether you will be filing for partial or total disability. Then you’ll want to determine how many weeks your injury will prevent you from working. Finally, you’ll want to add the cost of your medical care to your wage compensation.
- For those filing for total disability and who make less than the statewide weekly average, multiply how much you make each week by 66%. Then, multiply this value by the number of weeks you expect to be unable to work.
- For those filing for total disability and who make more than the statewide weekly average, first begin by looking up the statewide weekly average in the year your injury occurred. Then multiply that number the the number of weeks you expect to be unable to work.
- For those filing for partial disability and who make less than the statewide weekly average, first begin by determining how much your injury will limit your ability to work. This value should be a percentage. Then multiply that percentage by two thirds of your pre-injury wages. Multiply that product by the number of weeks you expect to have a reduced earning capacity.
- For those filing for partial disability and who make more than the statewide weekly average, figure out the statewide weekly average in the year your injury occurred. Then multiply that number by how much your earning capacity is reduced by your injury. Then multiply that number by the number of weeks you are unable to work.
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.
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.
After you’ve reported your accident, you’ll then want to move on to the filing portion of the process. The first step is to work with your employer to 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.
When to Hire a Lawyer
Although you can represent yourself in the claims process, hiring a lawyer will ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. It is probably wise to seek out an attorney if…
- Your employer denies your claim. f this happens to you, remain calm. A lawyer will help you file an appeal and get you the support you are entitled to.
- The settlement does not come close to covering your expenses. This is a sure-fire sign that you’ll want to take the claim to court.
- 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.
Why Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
You should pick Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys 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 of receiving record-breaking settlements for their victims.
All of our attorneys are board-certified trial lawyers, and many specialize exclusively in workers’ compensation claims. Our lawyers have 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.
At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, we have over sixty years of experience winning Pennsylvania residents the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve. We are proud to call the Scranton area our home. Please reach out to us today for your risk-free consultation. We look forward to getting you the benefits that you deserve.