Injured construction workers might be able to receive compensation through a workers’ comp claim or a third-party lawsuit
The construction industry is one of the biggest industries in Indiana. According to the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), 210,513 Hoosiers were employed in the construction industry in 2018.
Unfortunately, the construction industry is also one of the most dangerous industries in Indiana.
If you’re injured in a construction accident, a workers’ compensation claim or a third-party personal injury lawsuit might provide much-needed compensation.
Indiana construction accidents, injuries, and statistics
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), 31 construction workers in Indiana suffered fatal injuries in 2018. Across the country, 1,008 construction workers were killed, representing over a fifth (21.1%) of all work-related deaths.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified 4 hazards responsible for more than half of construction-worker deaths across the country. These hazards, deemed the “fatal four,” are:
- Being struck by an object
- Getting caught in or between equipment
Of course, not all construction accidents result in fatal injuries. Other common construction accident injuries include:
Legal remedies for injured construction workers
In most cases, there are 2 potential legal remedies for construction workers injured on the job. Let’s take a look at each remedy.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that compensates employees who are injured while performing their job. It’s a “no-fault” insurance system, which basically means injured workers can receive compensation regardless of who’s at fault for the injury.
Indiana requires almost all businesses to carry workers’ compensation insurance, so chances are you’re covered. What’s more, workers’ compensation covers all injuries and illnesses (other than those that are self-inflicted) so long as the injury or illness arose out of your employment.
To file a workers’ compensation claim, you need to notify your employer within 30 days of your injury. Once you’ve notified your employer, your employer is required to submit a report to the workers’ compensation insurance company (along with a copy to you) within 7 days. The insurance company has 29 days from the receipt of the report to accept or deny your claim.
Injured construction workers in Indiana can receive the following workers’ compensation benefits:
- Reasonable and necessary medical expenses (costs of doctor visits, surgeries, prescriptions, rehabilitation, etc.), and
- Wage loss benefits (calculated according to the nature of the injury).
In addition, eligible dependents of construction workers killed on the job can generally receive death benefits.
Filing a third-party lawsuit
Workers’ compensation is considered an exclusive remedy. This means that if you want to be compensated, you have to file a workers’ compensation claim and cannot sue your employer or co-worker for your work-related injury.
However, if you were injured by a third party (someone other than your employer or co-worker), you can file a workers’ compensation claim and file a separate third-party lawsuit against the person or entity that caused your injury.
Unlike filing a workers’ compensation claim, you’ll need to prove fault if you file a third-party lawsuit.
To prove fault, you have to establish the elements of negligence:
- The third-party owed you a duty of care,
- The third-party breached that duty of care, and
- The third-party’s breach was the legal cause of your injury.
Let’s look at an example:
In this example, Linda can file a workers’ compensation claim with ABC Construction. But she can also sue Jason via a third-party lawsuit for any damages her workers’ compensation claim may not cover, such as pain and suffering.
Statute of limitations in construction injury claims
The term “statute of limitations” refers to the law that prescribes a deadline for bringing certain kinds of legal actions.
In Indiana, the statute of limitations for filing a workers’ compensation claim is 2 years.
In other words, if you want to file a workers’ compensation claim, the claim must be filed within 2 years from the date of the accident, or else the claim is forever barred.
Similarly, the statute of limitations for filing a third-party lawsuit is 2 years.
What to do after a construction accident in Indiana
Just like there are steps you should take following a car accident, there are steps you should take after a construction accident to be sure you don’t jeopardize your ability to receive compensation. Here are 3 important steps:
- Visit a doctor so you can get the help you need and so you can begin establishing the medical evidence that is often the key to a successful claim. If you’re filing a workers’ compensation claim, your employer has the right to choose your doctor (unless it’s an emergency situation, in which case seeing the first available emergency room doctor is permitted).
- Notify your employer of the injury as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days after the accident, and insist they file a report with the workers’ compensation insurance company. If you don’t receive a copy of the report within 7 days of providing notice, be sure to follow up.
- Follow your doctor's orders. If you don’t follow your doctor’s advice or you miss scheduled appointments, your workers’ compensation claim may be jeopardized.
Need help finding an attorney to help you receive compensation after a construction accident? Enjuris has you covered. Head on over to our free online legal directory to find an experienced workers’ compensation attorney near you.