What Are Your Options if a Construction Injury Stemmed from a Safety Violation?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Kathleen M. Reilly with Brady Brady & Reilly, LLC.
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Kathleen M. Reilly, a Personal Injury attorney based in New Jersey.
There are strict safety protocols and regulations in place designed to protect construction workers from on-the-job injuries. That said, while some injuries may occur on the job, whenever an injury arises directly or indirectly from a safety violation, the employer may be considered liable in a workplace injury lawsuit, even in addition to a workers’ compensation claim.
In most cases, an injured worker cannot sue their employer while receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
This rule is designed to protect employers from liability while providing immediate care for limited medical expenses and lost wages to an injured worker. However, one important exception to this rule is if the injury occurred as a result of negligence. This means that if the injury was caused or contributed to by a safety violation on the part of the employer, a co-worker, or a third party, it may be possible to file an additional injury claim. This is good news especially for severe injuries because the damages that can typically be sought in a workplace injury claim far exceed those that may be covered by workers’ comp benefits.
It's important to document the violation as soon as possible after the injury.
An important part of proving that one or more parties were negligent in allowing or causing the injury is to prove when, where, and how the injury occurred. In the case of a safety violation, this could mean collecting the contact information of witnesses to the event, recording their testimonies as soon as possible with their permission, and taking pictures of any evidence at the scene of the injury or around the workplace that could be related to one or more safety violations.
For example, if a piece of machinery has been recalled or is in need of long overdue maintenance, it's important to take a picture of these items as well as any maintenance records proving that the hazardous condition existed and/or should not have reasonably existed. The same goes for other types of workplace injuries, such as spills that have not been cleaned up, lack of proper training, lack of safety signs, as well as safety equipment and safety procedures not being enforced by supervisors, managers, and employers.
It's important to seek medical care as soon as possible, regardless of the apparent severity of the injury.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for an injured worker to wait to seek medical care believing that the injury will get better on its own only to later find that the injury has worsened. However, explaining to your employer, a judge, and a jury why you waited to seek medical care could have a negative impact on your case, even if your reasons for waiting were valid. This is why it's important to seek medical care as soon as possible after being injured due to a safety violation at work; the resulting medical records may also help prove when and how the injury occurred.
Employers in any industry are required to maintain a reasonably safe workplace.
First and foremost, employers owe their workers a duty of care to ensure that their work environment is reasonably safe. In the construction industry, this means consistently following safety protocols and not tolerating safety violations. If an employer violates safety rules or allows employees to regularly violate safety rules, this could be considered negligent and make the employer liable for any resulting damages, regardless of whether or not the employee has received workers’ comp benefits.
Whenever you are injured on the job it's important to first contact a supervisor and then your company's human resources or HR department if one exists. After you have contacted your employer and sought medical care, the next person to contact is a workplace injury attorney. Most workplace injury attorneys offer free consultations and work on contingency, which means no out-of-pocket costs for the injured worker. A workplace injury lawyer can quickly help determine if a safety violation occurred and if so which one, as well as how to prove those violations and who was responsible for them or for preventing them.
To learn more about your options if you were injured by a safety violation on a construction site, reach out to an experienced workplace injury attorney in your area.