What Should You Know When You File a Construction Accident Claim in Baltimore?
If you are a construction worker in or near the Baltimore area, and you’re injured at work, what are your rights? Can you be compensated? What steps will you need to take? Seek medical treatment first, and then arrange to meet with a Baltimore construction accident lawyer.
If you’ll keep reading this brief discussion of construction-related injuries, you’ll learn how injured construction workers are compensated for their medical expenses and lost wages in Maryland, and you’ll learn more about your own rights and legal options if you’ve been injured.
OSHA – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – has determined that the four top reasons for construction site accidents are:
- being struck by a falling or flying object
- being caught-between or caught-in structures, heavy equipment, or trenches
- electrical injuries
- exposure to toxic chemicals and molds
Why Are Construction Workers So Frequently Injured?
Construction is inherently dangerous work, even when the workers have received the best safety training, follow the best safety practices, and use the best safety equipment. Without the right training, equipment, and practices, a construction site may be an extremely dangerous place.
What, then, are a construction worker’s rights? Construction workers in Maryland have the right to:
- reasonably hazard-free and safe construction site conditions
- training and information regarding hazards at the site and how to deal with the hazards
- request a safety inspection by OSHA
- consult an attorney or report a safety violation without fearing retaliation
Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Employers in Maryland are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover work-related injuries to their employees. Employers who fail to secure workers’ compensation insurance as required by law shall be subject to a fine of up to $10,000.
Most construction workers who are injured in the Baltimore area will qualify for workers’ compensation. Injured construction workers do not have to demonstrate that an employer was negligent in order to collect workers’ compensation benefits.
Usually, an injured construction worker only has to show that his or her injury happened “in the course and scope” of the worker’s duties. Employers pay the cost of workers’ comp insurance, and when injured workers submit claims, employers are not necessarily considered “at fault.”
What If Your Workers’ Comp Claim Is Rejected?
Workers’ compensation claims are approved when the employer and the employer’s workers’ comp insurance company agree that an illness or injury is job-related. If the employer or the insurance company disputes your claim, you’ll need the help of a construction accident attorney.
If your worker’s compensation claim has been denied, you and your attorney may file an appeal with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission to have a workers’ comp commissioner decide if you are entitled to benefits.
If the commissioner rejects your appeal, you may request a rehearing. If you are an injured construction worker seeking workers’ comp benefits, let a Maryland construction accident attorney handle any appeal or rehearing on your behalf.
When Should You Contact a Baltimore Construction Accident Attorney?
In fact, an injured construction worker should consult a worker’s compensation attorney even before filing a claim. Your attorney can ensure that your request for workers’ comp benefits is accurate and complete and that the necessary deadlines are met.
By working with a Baltimore construction accident lawyer from the very beginning, you will also ensure that no mistakes or misunderstandings on your part delay or derail your application for workers’ compensation benefits.
Can You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
In return for providing workers’ comp insurance, employers in most cases are protected from personal injury lawsuits. Injured construction workers may receive workers’ comp benefits without having to take legal action or prove that anyone was at-fault.
But workers’ compensation provides only minimal benefits, so when a construction-related injury is severe or catastrophic, a family may face financial hardship. Construction injuries may entail considerable medical costs, weeks or more without income, and a long recovery period.
However, if a third party other than the employer was fully or partly at-fault for a construction worker’s injury, that construction worker may take legal action to recover compensation from the third party.
Parties that may have liability for construction accidents include (but are not limited to) general contractors, equipment manufacturers, construction managers, subcontractors, property owners, and in some accidents, architects and engineers.
If you were injured while working on a construction site, a Maryland construction accident attorney can investigate the circumstances and details of your accident and injury to determine if a third party may be held liable.
Why Is an Attorney’s Help So Important?
A third-party injury claim based on a construction site accident is comparable to a claim based on a traffic accident. To prevail, an injured “plaintiff” must prove that the allegedly negligent “defendant”:
- had a duty to operate responsibly and safely
- breached that duty through negligence
- caused the plaintiff’s injury as the result of that negligence
Catastrophic construction injuries – severe spinal cord and brain injuries, paralysis, and injuries that lead to amputation – require considerable compensation beyond what workers’ comp provides.
And whether a construction-related injury is or isn’t catastrophic or permanent, it can be legally quite complicated. Overlapping local, state, and federal regulations govern the construction industry, and a number of agencies are involved in enforcing those regulations.
These legal complications mean that injured Maryland construction workers will need reliable legal help when they seek to recover compensation. If a third party may be liable for a worker’s injury, a construction accident lawyer will identify that party and hold it accountable.
Who Has the Responsibility for Injuries at Construction Sites?
Legally speaking, employers have the primary responsibility for safety at construction sites. Other parties may have legal obligations and may also be held liable, but in another sense, everyone at a construction site has a responsibility to keep that site safe.
It begins with the right safety training, safety equipment, and safety practices that become habits. Safety violations should be reported and/or resolved at once. Violations that frequently cause injuries include but are not limited to:
- failing to offer adequate safety training
- failing to supply, replace, repair, or use proper safety equipment
- inadequate or defective guardrails and scaffolding
- inadequate protection from wiring and electrical equipment
- failing to inform workers about a construction site’s known hazards
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Lawsuit?
Maryland has a three-year statute of limitations for construction-related personal injury lawsuits, but don’t wait three years, or even three weeks, to obtain an attorney’s help. Your attorney needs to examine the evidence while it’s fresh and question any witnesses before their memories fade.
It costs nothing to speak with a construction accident attorney, there’s no obligation, and if you proceed with legal action, you’ll pay no attorney’s fee unless and until your attorney recovers compensation on your behalf.