A large part of construction law involves injuries while on the job. There are proactive and reactive laws that can help you with knowing what to do to prevent an accident and what to do after an accident. Your employer should make sure that you have access to the information needed to keep you and your clients safe. Despite your best efforts to remain safe, accidents do happen and it’s important that you know what to do in the event that something does occur.
When an accident happens
After a construction accident it is very important to gather all the evidence you possibly can. This includes assessing the responsibilities of those involved in the site; site owner, general contractor, sub contractor, management company, engineers, equipment manufacturers and insurers. Know who has what responsibility over what part of the project. This is not to place blame on anyone but to know where to proceed with any claims. For example, a contractor does not have much responsibility for a piece of equipment that has failed. That would lie in the hands of the manufacturer.
The Occupational Safety and Health administration, or OSHA, protects workers, workers rights and working environments by placing strict safety regulations on places of employment. While just about every place of employment has to deal with OSHA, it’s the manufacturing and construction sites that have the most involvement. The work conditions are such that there is a greater risk to the safety of the workers.
The department of labor and OSHA are in charge of the education and training of employees, and making sure that proper precautions are always followed. They also administer regulations for the handling of certain material on a construction site, such as asbestos, toxic fumes, and harmful chemicals. These laws are in place to keep workers safe.
Another aspect of construction laws concerns workers compensation. Workers compensation should be considered part of a benefits package offered by any company. Workers compensation is state regulated and most states require businesses to have it. If you are involved in an accident at work, report the claim and fill out the forms as soon as possible. Workers compensation is basically insurance to cover employees injured on the job.
Workers compensation not only works in the interest of the employee, in the form of monetary compensation for damages and lost wages, but also protects the company from lawsuits. While workers compensation usually safe guards against lawsuits, it is still possible to bring a suit against the company or the manufacturers of a piece of faulty equipment. If any kind of settlement is awarded, usually the amount of the workers compensation first awarded must be returned or subtracted from the final award.
Hiring a Lawyer
When you file a workers compensation claim, a lawyer will question you about the accident/incident. Give all the details you can and provide him/her with all relevant evidence. The first meeting you have with a workers compensations lawyer may be short, because it is usually just to gather information and get a full understanding of the case. Of course the bigger the case, the longer you can expect the meeting to be. There will be forms that you will have to sign, including release of medical information and insurance coverage. The lawyer will also want to know who else you have talked about the incident with, such as other lawyers, or people at the company.
It is also in the fist meeting with your lawyer that you will discuss, in detail, fees for legal services. You should come out of that meeting with a full understanding of the total cost of the legal service and how the payments will be made. Will there be a retainer fee or an hourly rate paid? If an hourly rate, how much is it and by what scale? If the lawyer is billed for every half hour or 10 minutes, they usually round up at the first minute over. You should be clear on everything involved in the process before you make any decisions or proceed with the case.