What is a Construction Accident Lawsuit?
A construction accident lawsuit is a formal legal complaint by the plaintiff, the person injured on a construction site, against one or more defendants. The defendants are the individuals or groups the plaintiff believes are negligent in their accident and liable for resulting damages. This is a type of personal injury lawsuit.
Generally, you cannot sue your employer. Workers’ compensation insurance is required for this reason, to prevent lawsuits against employers. Certain situations warrant a lawsuit after a work accident, either against the employer or a third party.
Can I Just Get a Settlement or Compensation Through Insurance?
After most workplace accidents, employees receive money through the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. This is insurance designed just for these situations. It pays damages to the employee to cover medical expenses, disability costs, lost wages, and death benefits.
There are a few instances in which an injured person on a construction site would not be able to get this compensation or get inadequate compensation:
- The insurance company does not pay as much as the worker believes they should get
- The employer failed to provide this insurance coverage
- The worker was a contractor not covered by the insurance
- The injured individual did not work on the site but was a visitor
- The employee or another worker was intentionally or grossly negligent in the accident
Even in these situations, you may not need to file a construction accident lawsuit. Most personal injury conflicts resolve in negotiation settlements. A lawyer you hire will work with the insurance company or defendant’s lawyer to get you a fair settlement to try to avoid the length and cost of a lawsuit.
How Will My Lawyer Prove Negligence in My Construction Accident Lawsuit?
Proving negligence can be difficult. If you are eligible for an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, your lawyer will likely start there. They need to show that your expenses are more significant than what the insurance company has offered you.
If the insurance company does not pay at all, your lawyer must prove that you suffered injuries at work, that the accident was not due to your own negligence, and that you have damages resulting from it. To get the insurance company to pay out adequately, your lawyer will need some things from you:
- The incident report
- Notes from witnesses to the accident
- Your medical records and bills
- Information about missed work and lost wages
Your lawsuit may also involve a third party. If your employer has adequate insurance, you most likely cannot sue them. However, there may be someone else responsible for the accident. This could be the property owner who did not maintain the site adequately or the manufacturer of a tool you used that malfunctioned and hurt you.
To prove negligence against a third party, your lawyer must show they acted outside the bounds of what is expected, which led to your accident, injury, and damages. The burden of proof is often less if a faulty product is to blame.
When Should I File the Lawsuit?
If you are going to take the step to file a lawsuit, your lawyer will explain the timeline. States have different statutes of limitations on when you can sue someone for a personal injury. The time limit is anywhere from one year to six years after the accident, so take action quickly to make sure you don’t miss your chance.
How Much Can I Recover in Damages?
When filing a lawsuit over an injury, one of the most important considerations is the worth of your case. The accident cost you money in medical bills and lost wages, among other things. You are taking this step to get compensated adequately, but no one can predict exactly what you may recover.
Your lawyer can give you a reasonable estimate, but several factors come into play:
- Your current and past medical expenses
- Projected future medical expenses
- Therapy, rehabilitation, hospital stays, home healthcare, and other related expenses
- Your mental and physical pain and suffering
- Time lost from work and lost income
- Future lost income and any reduction in your ability to earn
- Death benefits for a dependent when someone dies in an accident
Your damages also depend on the laws in the state in which you sue. A settlement can be in any amount, but laws may limit what you can recover if you go to trial. Several states cap the amount you may receive in non-economic damages.
What Happens in a Construction Accident Lawsuit?
The majority of construction accidents and injuries will never go so far as to be a formal lawsuit. Your lawyer will most likely advocate on your behalf to get an insurance settlement. If these efforts fail, and the conditions are right, you may start a lawsuit to hold the responsible party accountable for damages.
A personal injury lawsuit starts with a complaint filed on your behalf. It describes the situation and notifies the defendant that you are holding them liable for damages. They may or may not respond, but regardless, both sides will investigate the incident and collect evidence.
Your lawyer will then try to use that evidence to negotiate a fair settlement. If this process fails, you can choose to take the case to trial. A jury decides if the defendants are negligent and if they owe you damages.
Filing a construction accident lawsuit is not typical, but there are situations in which it becomes necessary. If you are unsure what to do after being hurt on a construction site, contact a work injury or personal injury lawyer for advice.