How to Recover Compensation After a Construction Accident
Construction workers have the right to reasonably safe working conditions, yet thousands are injured each year in avoidable construction site accidents. If you are injured doing construction work in Texas, discuss your legal options with an Edinburg construction accident attorney.
Accidents and severe workplace injuries occur every day in Texas. In any occupation, negligence can cause injuries, but in the United States, the most dangerous line of work is construction.
What happens if you’re injured at a construction job in Texas? Will you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits? Will you have to file a lawsuit to receive compensation? Keep reading, because if you work in construction, or if you love someone who does, you need these answers.
Who is Responsible for Construction Site Safety?
When you work on a construction site, you probably presume that reasonable safety measures have been taken, that the employers have complied with the safety regulations, that the other workers have been properly trained, and that the tools and equipment employers provide are safe.
In other words, you may presume that there is no risk. But far too often, at too many construction sites, that presumption has been wrong – with devastating consequences.
Employers are legally responsible for safety at construction sites, but safety is everyone’s responsibility. If you work on a construction site, you probably already know that you should keep your own working area safe and inform employers at once about potential hazards.
Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation? Who Isn’t?
If you suffer an injury at a construction job in Texas, you are probably covered by workers’ compensation, which means that your employer is required to help you obtain appropriate medical treatment and to replace part of your lost wages.
That is, if you are not an independent contractor. Texas law does not define independent contractors as employees, so independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in this state.
And unlike most states, Texas doesn’t compel all employers to purchase workers’ comp insurance, but if they don’t, they become “nonsubscribers” who lose the protections that workers’ compensation provides to both employers and to their employees.
If a construction worker’s employer is a nonsubscriber, and the worker is injured while at work, that employer may be sued for injuries. But for most injured construction workers in Texas, workers’ comp will cover your medical expenses and a portion of the lost wages.
Can Undocumented Employees Receive Workers’ Comp Payments?
Texas law specifically sets forth that if you are an undocumented employee, you have the right to workers’ comp coverage. If you are injured doing construction work, your immigration status cannot be used against you by an insurance company, employer, attorney, or a civil trial jury.
Almost any construction injury can quickly become complicated. Construction is governed by scores of overlapping local, state, and federal laws. The U.S. Labor Department enforces over 180 federal laws about workplace safety and accidents. You’ll need an attorney’s help.
Workers’ compensation in Texas is supposed to pay for all of an injured construction worker’s medical expenses. Construction workers with a work-related injury or illness that keeps them out of work for more than seven days are also entitled to temporary wage replacement benefits.
Which Injuries are Considered Job-Related?
When are injuries “job-related” under the workers’ compensation guidelines? Usually it’s obvious, but some circumstances – such as these examples – may make it difficult to prove that an injury is job-related:
1. Injuries that occur during lunch breaks are seldom considered work-related, but if the injury occurs in an employee break room or on the construction site, or if the employer is involved in an accident that causes the injury, it may be considered job-related.
2. Injuries involving alcohol are almost never considered job-related, but if you are injured at an employer-sponsored event – like a holiday party or a picnic – and alcohol is served – your injury may be considered job-related.
3. If your construction work has exacerbated a preexisting medical condition or injury, your exacerbated condition may be considered a job-related injury.
Construction-related illnesses and injuries can remain latent or undetectable for weeks and sometimes for months. That often makes it difficult to know if an illness or injury is work-related. That’s also why it’s important to be examined immediately after a workplace accident.
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help You?
If you are injured doing construction work and you need to submit a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, have a workers’ compensation attorney review your claim for thoroughness and accuracy, and discuss with that attorney the best way to proceed.
If you’re injured at the job – doing construction or any other kind of work in Texas – get the right lawyer’s advice at once. Especially if your personal injury or injuries are severe, you’ll need a good lawyer’s help to obtain the compensation you need and deserve.
If you’ve been injured on the job, file your workers’ comp claim immediately after a medical professional has examined you. Otherwise, your benefits may be delayed or in some cases even denied.
When you’re a construction accident victim, medical expenses can add up swiftly, and workers’ comp is almost never enough. It’s best to consult a workers’ comp attorney who also handles personal injury claims.
Are There Other Compensation Options for Injured Construction Workers?
Workers’ compensation benefits are limited, but in some circumstances, workers’ compensation is not an injured construction worker’s only option for compensation.
If anyone except the employer is responsible in any way for a construction site injury, that party may be liable and may be sued. In fact, multiple third parties – individuals, companies, property owners, and contractors – often have a share of the liability for construction injuries.
Construction accidents sometimes cause permanently disabling, catastrophic injuries. If you suffer a spinal cord injury, a TBI (traumatic brain injury), or an injury that requires amputation, for example, you’ll need to obtain the maximum compensation that’s available.
When Should You Contact a Texas Construction Injury Attorney?
If you’re injured working on a construction site, as soon as a doctor has examined you, arrange to meet with a Texas injury lawyer who can walk you through the worker’s comp process and/or handle a personal injury claim on your behalf.
The right Edinburg construction accident attorney can review your case for free and without obligation. You’ll need sound, honest advice and legal guidance after a construction injury whether you are pursuing a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim.
By Chris Brasure
Brasure Law Firm, PLLC was founded by Chris Brasure in 2006. His legal accomplishments are diverse and numerous. He is a fellow with the Texas Bar Foundation, was a delegate in the American Bar Association House of Delegates and holds a BA in political science and speech communication from Baylor University. He then went on to obtain his law degree from Baylor University Law School. Chris believes that education is absolutely critical to one’s success, so his firm now offers The Brasure Law Firm Scholarship to give back to the community and to help students who are seeking to pursue a higher education.