Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the country. According to OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), 971 of the 4674 deaths in the workplace in 2017 — almost one in five — were in the construction sector. In addition to those fatalities, thousands more workers were injured enough to lose work time.
More than half of those accidents came from the so-called “Fatal Four” — falls, being struck by an object, electrocution, and “caught in/between” accidents. Ideally, everyone will do their part to prevent construction site accidents in the first place, but accidents happen. If you work in construction and have been injured on the job, it’s important that you take the right steps after your accident. Here’s what to do next.
1. Get Looked At by a Medical Professional
First things first: take care of yourself. Even if you don’t feel as though you’ve been seriously injured, you need to seek the attention of a medical professional.
The adrenaline rush following a workplace injury can mask the pain of something more serious, like a broken bone or torn tendon or ligament. Worse still are head injuries — all of the symptoms from a concussion might not start to occur until hours or days later, when you start to experience dizziness, nausea, headaches, and other symptoms.
If your condition worsens over time, it will be more difficult to tie the worsened condition to a specific workplace incident than it would be if treatment was sought shortly after the incident. Additionally, the sooner you seek medical attention, the more likely you are to make a more complete recovery from your injuries.
2. Inform Your Supervisor or Boss
It’s important that you inform your employer— in writing — of your injuries within four days after an incident. Failing to inform your employer may negatively impact your pursuit of a worker’s compensation claim after your construction accident.
It’s also important to note that your employer has ten days to notify the Division of Workers’ Compensation of your injuries when the injuries are serious enough to result in permanent physical impairment, lost time for the employee, or death. Failure to do so could result in penalties for the employer.
3. Gather Any Relevant Evidence – Especially if Your Injury is Caused by Another Company or Contractor on the Job Site
Gather as much evidence from the scene as you can. Take photographs of everything. Document the scene of the accident, both close-up and from farther back, including any equipment that was used nearby.
You should also make sure to get photos of any injuries you sustain before they’re treated, including the clothing you were wearing at the time of the accident. In fact, you should ideally not even wash the clothes you were wearing at the time. Investigators and insurance adjusters can get a lot of information from your clothing, from a dent in a hard hat to a cut in a piece of fabric, and it might help you later in your case.
Don’t forget about “digital witnesses” — there may have been security cameras pointed at the scene of the incident, and that footage could be instrumental in determining what happened.
Finally, consider your own health as evidence. Keep track of any medical records, prescriptions, and expenses you incur as a result of what happened. It’s not a bad idea to keep track of your health for a while after the accident, too. You might feel fine while you rest, but then experience extra aggravation once you start working again. Write down any developments in your injury, how it affects your daily life, and how your injuries heal over time. And make sure you are evaluated and treated by a medical professional.
4. Get Help From an Attorney
Workers’ compensation and construction injury claims can get confusing, and there are many opportunities in the process of a workers’ compensation claim for an injured worker to harm their claim if they don’t have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on their side. And if another company or contractor is directly responsible for your injuries, well that makes things more complex — all the more reason to contact an attorney.
If you’re injured by another company, or contractor, or a malfunctioning piece of equipment, you’ll want an experienced attorney on your side who can represent you in your workers’ compensation claim and those claims against any other party or company responsible for your injuries.
At Mintz Law Firm, we have the experience necessary to navigate the challenges of construction site accidents and recover the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been injured in a construction-related accident, contact Mintz Law Firm today.