Pittsburgh Construction Accident Lawyers
If you were injured on a construction site in Pittsburgh – as a visitor or a worker – you’re likely scared and unsure of your legal options. Our Pittsburgh construction accident lawyers can help. We fight to get you the maximum compensation for your injuries.
Construction sites can be dangerous areas to visit or work, and they have inherent risks. Unfortunately, many construction accidents are caused by negligence, unsafe conditions, or equipment malfunctions. If you sustained injuries due to negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
If you’ve been involved a construction accident, you’re likely feeling scared, you may be in immense physical pain, and unsure of what to do next. You need the help of one of our Pittsburgh construction accident lawyers.
Our lawyers work hard to build your case, file claims, and fight for the maximum compensation for your injuries. If you were involved in a construction accident, we want to help. Call us today to learn more about your rights and what types of compensation may be available to you. We offer free, no-obligation consultations for construction accident victims.
Causes of Construction Accidents
There are risks involved when working at or visiting a construction site. Yet, site owners, vendors, and contractors have a responsibility to follow safety protocol to protect anyone onsite.
If negligence was the reason for your accident, you may be entitled to compensation.
Some of the most common causes of accidents include:
- Inadequate fall protection
- Inadequate protection from falling objects
- Tripping hazards
- Unsafe equipment conditions
- Inadequate protections against electrical malfunctions
- Unsafe ground conditions
It’s important to contact a qualified attorney if you believe your accident was caused by unsafe conditions. A lawyer helps you build your case by investigating the unsafe conditions that caused your accident.
Entitled to Worker’s Compensation
Were you injured while working? The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides protections for workers and employers. This law allows workers to recover money for any costs related to their injuries, but it also limits a worker’s ability to file suit against an employer.
Under PA’s worker’s compensation laws, you are entitled to compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. To apply for worker’s compensation, you inform your employer about the injury, seek medical attention from an approved doctor, and file a claim.
Yet, this process can be complicated, and it’s overwhelming for those recovering from serious injuries. Not to mention, your employer may claim that you did not sustain an injury at work, or there may be unique circumstances that led to your accident, e.g. an injury-caused by a vendor at your site.
Our Pittsburgh construction accident lawyers fight for the benefits you legally deserve. Often, you do not need to file a lawsuit to recover compensation. Our team can help you file a workers’ compensation claim and fight for any and all benefits that you rightfully deserve.
Types of Compensation Available
Construction accidents bring uncertainty to your life. You’ll likely have medical bills to pay, and suffer from lost wages for time away from work. This can be scary and leave you unsure of your financial future. Fortunately, there are a number of legal avenues to help you recover compensation quickly.
Ultimately, the type of compensation you pursue depends on your case. In the majority of work-related injury accidents, you’ll likely qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits provide coverage for many of the costs related to your accident, including:
- Medical care
- A percentage of your lost wages
- Disability benefits
Other times, victims may qualify for additional benefits. Sometimes, for example, the liable party isn’t your employer, but a third-party vendor. In these cases, you can file a suit or make an insurance claim to receive additional benefits to pay for:
- Long-term medical care
- Medical costs not covered by worker’s compensation
- Additional lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Wrongful death lawsuits are another legal option if a loved one has died in a construction accident. A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed against the liable party. If this is a type of action you want to pursue, our Pittsburgh construction accident lawyers will review your case to determine a plan of action for your family.
Hire a Pittsburgh Construction Accident Lawyer
Filing a worker’s compensation claim is complicated and can be overwhelming, especially if you’re recovering from an injury. A qualified attorney manages the entire process for you. Your attorney will:
- Investigate your accident
- File appropriate paperwork
- File your workers’ compensation claim
- File for Social Security disability claims (if applicable)
In some cases, a negligent third party may be responsible for the accident. In these cases, a lawyer files insurance claims on your behalf, and can also help you file a personal injury lawsuit.
Our team will investigate your accident, collect evidences, and determine who was responsible for the accident. After our investigation, we contact the liable party and fight for the compensation you deserve. Our team will file insurance claims or negotiate a settlement for you, but if we cannot reach a fair settlement, our legal team is prepared to take your case to court.
Workers’ Compensation vs. Negligence
In Pennsylvania, construction workers are covered under their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance when they are injured on the job. Because of this coverage, workers are barred from suing their direct employer for additional damages for work-related injuries. However, subcontractors, trucking companies, and other employers on the site may be responsible for the unsafe conditions that lead to accidents and could be sued by non-employees. To determine who is liable for your construction site injuries, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at the Accident & Injury Law Group.
Common Construction Site Injuries
In the construction industry, the accidents that happen most frequently are known as the “fatal four.” According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), these accidents are responsible for over half of all construction worker deaths each year:
- Falls. Accounting for nearly 40 percent of construction site fatalities each year, falls from heights can be caused by faulty scaffolding, lack of fall protection, misuse of ladders, and other hazards. Depending on which contractor is responsible for the faulty equipment, an injured worker may be able to pursue a negligence claim.
- Struck by object. Ten percent of fatal construction site accidents are what is known as “struck by object” accidents. This category includes being hit by a vehicle, as well as being struck by walls, I-beams, pipes, objects hanging from cranes, and any other loose object on a jobsite. Unless it is your direct employer who is responsible for the equipment that led to your injury, you may be able to seek damages for your injuries in a struck by object accident.
- Electrocution. Live, unsecured wires are common on a construction site and workers—even those not employed as electricians—can suffer shocks and electrocutions when they come in contact with them. As electrical work is often done by a subcontractor, a worker injured in an electrical accident may be able to sue the subcontractor for negligence.
- Caught in or between. Trenches, cranes, loaders and rollers, power tools, heavy materials, and other construction-site equipment create hazards for construction workers who can get caught in or between these dangerous objects. These accidents are often caused by another worker who is operating the machinery carelessly. That worker and his employer could be held liable for a worker’s injuries.
Construction site injuries can lead to complicated legal situations. Don’t just settle for workers’ compensation benefits from your employer if other parties may be liable for your injuries. Call our experienced attorneys today to see if we can help.
Request a Free Case Evaluation
If you were injured in a construction accident, don’t hesitate to call. Our Pittsburgh construction accident lawyers provide free, no-obligation case reviews. We will review the facts of your case, and offer advice about the best course of action for recovering maximum compensation. Call today to learn more about your rights.
Construction workers face some of the most hazardous workplaces in the country. The rate of fatal injury is higher in the construction business than in any other industry. In fact, one in five worker deaths across all industries is in construction. Carpenters, roofers, electrical workers, and all other construction site workers have a right to a safe workspace and, when they are injured, have a right to be compensated for their injuries.
Frequently Asked Construction Accident Questions
How Do I Pick a Lawyer?
I’m often asked by people, “How do I know who’s a good attorney and how do I choose the best lawyer to represent me?” In a construction site accident, like in most other cases, you want to look for someone with experience. It’s important to ask the lawyer that you’re considering hiring if they’ve handled cases like this before. Ask them as many questions as you can think of about those experiences and how they handled the case. In addition to getting an idea of how experienced that attorney is, the more you talk with the attorney you’re thinking of hiring, the better idea you get for that person and whether that’s the person that you want to represent you. The relationship that you enter in with your attorney could go on for several years if it’s necessary to try the case, so you want to have someone who you’re comfortable with and confident in.
What Should I Do If I’m Hurt on a Construction Site?
If you’re injured at a construction site, the first thing that you want to do is seek attention for whatever injuries you have. That is by far the most important thing that you can do. Secondly, you want to seek out someone who appears to be in charge of that scene, make known to them your injury, and also get information from them including their name, their employer, and what their role or their connection is to the construction work that’s ongoing. Thirdly, after you’ve done those things, you want to seek out the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer with trial experience, who would be willing not only to make a claim on your behalf but, if need be, litigate that case, which includes conducting extensive discovery to determine things like who was in charge or who was responsible for the condition that caused you harm and injury.
What Mistakes Should I Avoid?
One of the mistakes that people make when they’re injured at a construction site is they don’t take the steps to try to find out who is in charge of the location. They don’t document the condition that caused their injury as best as they can. It’s understandable because your first concern is your well-being and your medical condition, but if there’s someone that you can contact to do so for you, have them take a look at that site and record, as best as they can, what was going on at the time of the injury. If need be, the person that you might need to contact as soon as possible is an experienced personal injury attorney. That attorney or an investigator on your behalf will get to that scene as soon as they can and document the condition that caused your harm.
Should I Report My Injury?
If you’re injured at a construction site, one of the most important things that you can do is notify management, or someone who appears to have been in charge of that site. If there does not appear to be anyone in charge of the site at that time, you still want to try to find out as much as you can about who the owner of the site was, who the construction companies on site were, and if you’re unable to do any of that, you may need to contact some local municipal authority or police to see what information they can provide you as to who is responsible for that location.
How do I know what my construction claim is worth and what can I recover?
What a construction worker is able to recover following an on-the-job accident depends largely on which avenue of compensation pursued.
In Pennsylvania, injured construction workers are often entitled to benefits through the state’s workers’ compensation system. This no-fault system covers the cost of related authorized medical care, compensates for lost wages, and provides partial or total disability benefits—even if the construction worker was partially or fully responsible for the accident resulting in injuries.
While there are obvious advantages to collecting workers’ compensation after a construction site accident—such as not having to prove negligence in order to receive benefits—for workers with severe injuries, these benefits may not provide the full range of compensation they need and deserve.
However, construction crew members injured by a worker from another company may have grounds for a third-party construction accident claim, which allows them to seek a much broader array of damages.
In addition to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and loss of earning potential, plaintiffs in a third-party construction accident case can also attempt to recover damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, scarring or disfigurement, reduced quality of life, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Third-party personal injury claims are filed far more often than most people realize. They’re especially common in the construction industry, as job sites are bustling and inherently hazardous places where employees from numerous companies work side-by-side to complete an overall project.
How will I be compensated for a construction accident injury?
Serious construction accidents are a daily occurrence in the United States. In fact, more than 200,000 construction accidents result in injury each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some of the most common and dangerous types of construction accidents include falls, electrocutions, exposure to hazardous materials, and struck-by object or caught-in between incidents.
The injuries sustained in a construction accident vary, but may include:
- Broken bones
- Eye injuries or vision loss
- Head or brain injuries
- Back or spinal cord injuries
- Amputation or loss of limbs
Any of these injuries can require extensive medical treatment and a long period of recovery, and may even render the construction crew member temporarily or permanently unable to work. Fortunately, in Pennsylvania, injured construction workers aren’t without legal rights and protections, and may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and other losses.
Who’s responsible for compensating construction workers for on-the-job injuries depends on a variety of factors. The Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system is often the first and only recourse for injured construction workers. This no-fault system compensates accident victims for medical expenses and lost wages. However, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act shields employers from personal injury cases brought by their employees.
Sometimes construction accident injuries aren’t caused by the negligence of employers or coworkers, but by the negligence of someone who’s an independent contractor or employed by another company. In such cases, the injured construction worker may have grounds for a third-party construction accident claim, and the other worker or company may be financially responsible for their injuries.
What’s a third-party construction accident claim?
Construction sites are bustling workplaces where workers from multiple companies work side-by-side to complete a larger project.
Even if construction workers can reliably count on themselves and the rest of their crew to follow important safety protocols, they can’t always expect the same vigilance from other subcontractors and workers who come and go on the job site.
When someone is injured in the workplace due to the negligence of a worker from another company, the injured worker may have grounds for a third-party personal injury claim. Unlike traditional construction accident injury claims, which must go through the state’s workers’ compensation system, third-party claims are pursued through the civil justice system.
This means that rather than only receiving payments for economic losses and lost wages, injured construction workers can seek compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, mental and emotional anguish, and other conditions.
Common types of injuries associated with construction accidents include:
- Shoulder or knee sprains
- Broken bones
- Cuts or lacerations
- Eye injuries or vision loss
- Hearing loss
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Concussions, traumatic brain injuries and other head traumas
- Paralysis and other spinal cord injuries
As one might imagine, third-party construction accident cases can be complicated. Fortunately, a seasoned personal injury attorney can help by thoroughly investigating the cause of the accident, determining the proper third-party to name in lawsuit, and examining all possible avenues of compensation.
Can I be fired for filing a claim against my employer?
After sustaining an on-the-job injury, construction workers often worry that filing a workers’ compensation claim will cost them their job. Fortunately, thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s 1998 decision in Shick v. Shirey, it’s against the law for an employer to discriminate or fire a worker in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim and pursuing the benefits they’re owed.
However, while it’s illegal to fire an employee specifically for exercising their lawful rights to workers’ compensation, it’s still completely legal for employers to fire an employee with an open workers’ compensation claim for some other reason.
In fact, as an at-will employment state, Pennsylvania makes it relatively easy for employers to fire workers for any—or no—reason at all.
As a result, unscrupulous employers may take advantage of this loophole when seeking to terminate the employment of an injured worker.
This is often the case when an injured construction worker returns to the job on light or modified duty.
Rather than firing the worker for pursuing compensation for a workplace injury, an employer may instead look for reasons or excuses to let him or her go, such as minor attendance issues, disagreeing with a supervisor, or missing a deadline.
Proving someone was fired in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim can be challenging. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney with experience handling construction accident cases can help employees protect their rights after a workplace injury.
What if another construction company or entity caused my injury?
After being hurt on the job, construction employees may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, such as medical expenses coverage and a portion of the wages they lost during their recovery.
While workers’ compensation addresses economic losses associated with a workplace injury, it doesn’t compensate individuals injured for non-economic damages—such as pain and suffering—that could be sought in a personal injury lawsuit. Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania, workers’ compensation is the sole legal remedy for injured workers.
However, while Pennsylvania law bars employees from suing their employer for negligence after sustaining a work-related injury, filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party may be an option if the injury was caused by someone from a different company.
Known as third-party claims, these types of lawsuits are relatively common after a construction accident, partially because of how standard it is for numerous companies, contractors, and subcontractors to work side-by-side on a single project.
Examples of third party claims include:
- Motor vehicle accidents. Workers hurt in a job-related car or truck accident can often file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver while also collecting workers’ compensation benefits.
- Defective equipment or machinery. If a machinery defect or malfunction results in injury, the manufacturer may be held liable.
- Non-employer supervisory negligence. Non-employer supervisors, such as engineers or architects, may be held liable if flaws in their work cause injury.
- Errors made by other contractors or subcontractors. When a contractor or subcontractor’s on-the-job negligence injures a worker from another company, the injured individual may have grounds to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Do I need a lawyer for my construction site injury claim?
Because your recovery costs will be covered by workers’ comp, it may seem like there is no need for an attorney when you are injured on a construction site. However, a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney may uncover additional sources of compensation. Therefore, we recommend that you do consider hiring an attorney when you are injured in a construction site accident.
Who Can I Hold Responsible?
There are times when people are injured in the course of their employment and one of the questions that always comes up is, “Who can I hold responsible?” In Pennsylvania, there is a workers’ compensation law that, in most instances, precludes you from suing your employer. Your only recourse against your employer would be recovery of workers’ compensation benefits. However, it’s important in those situations to talk with an experienced lawyer, because there are exceptions to that general rule that might permit you to go forward with a civil action against your employer. Even if you cannot sue your employer, a lawyer can help you make a full recovery of workers’ compensation benefits and can also look and see if there are any additional parties who might have responsibility or liability for your injuries, so that you can make a recovery over and above what’s available to you under workers’ compensation.
What is Discovery?
One of the things that you always have to take into consideration in any personal injury case is who is responsible for the injury. Who is the owner of the property? Who is doing the construction work? Once you identify those parties, you need to do what’s called discovery or an investigation, so that you can find out whether they had appropriate insurance coverages. You can also find out through discovery and investigation whether there might be other additional parties that were responsible for the thing or the condition that caused your client harm.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
In Pennsylvania, there’s what’s called the Workers’ Compensation Act, and that’s a law that’s set up to protect employers. That law covers employers injured in the course or scope of their job, even if the employee may have in some way been responsible for their injury. The idea behind workers’ compensation is that anyone injured while working, and is losing their wages due to medical treatment should make some recovery. Workers’ compensation benefits are available to replace a portion of the wages that you’re losing and also, very importantly, to provide you with health insurance or medical coverage so that you can get treatment for any of the injuries caused by this workplace accident.
What Workers’ Compensation Covers
Like every other employer in Pennsylvania, construction companies and contractors must carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover the medical costs of employees injured in the workplace. This coverage extends to all workers, including seasonal and part-time employees. As long as the injury occurred while performing work duties, workers’ comp will kick in. The cause of the accident does not matter—your coverage should be almost automatic. Workers’ comp insurance will cover the following expenses:
- Payment for lost wages. If you are unable to work because of your injury, workers’ comp will provide wage-loss benefits.
- Specific loss benefits. If you have lost the use of a sense or body part because of the injury, you may be entitled to a specific loss benefit.
- Medical care. All surgical and medical services related to the workplace injury or illness will be covered by the medical care benefit.
If you report your accident promptly and follow all required steps, you should not have a problem getting your workers’ comp benefits. However, these benefits may not be enough to cover all of your losses.
A Personal Injury Attorney Will Identify Other Liable Parties
Construction sites are busy places and there are often multiple companies working at the same time. When you are injured on a site, your direct employer will provide workers’ comp benefits regardless of fault, but another employer on the site may be the one responsible for your injury. For example, if you are doing finish work for your employer, but using the electrical subcontractor’s scaffolding which gives way and causes you to fall, you may be able to pursue compensation from that company, as well as workers’ comp benefits from your own employer. You would seek damages from a non-employer through a lawsuit, which will likely be settled through that company’s liability insurance. This could provide a significant financial award that would contribute a great deal towards your recovery.