1,000 construction workers are killed every year due to accidents on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) attribute the bulk of these accidents to the “fatal four.” The fatal four are falls, electrocution, workers being struck by objects, and workers getting caught between objects on the job. Falls are the most common of the final four that result in the death of workers. In 2015 364 out of 937 construction site deaths were a result of workers falling. This correlated with the most common OSHA violation given being a lack of fall protection. This violation states that an employer must provide guardrails, harness, and ropes to protect their employees from falling from heights 6 feet or higher. Although these rules are in place, they are still violated which leads to workers being hurt on the job.
When an employee is injured, on the job, they can bring forth a worker's compensation claim against their employer to help pay for medical bills and lost wages. A worker’s compensation claim is one of no-fault, which means there is no need to prove who caused the injury. A worker’s compensation claim substitutes as a lawsuit against your employer. This means that an employee may not bring suit against their employer for pain and suffering after they have filed for worker’s compensation. If an employee has a worker’s compensation claim against their employer, then they must bring their lawsuit against a third party (not their employer) whose negligence caused their injury.
Architects, engineers, general contractors, or a supplier of materials are some of the third parties that an employee might be able to bring a civil suit against, as long as this third party caused the employee’s injury. If a claim is brought against the third party, then the employee must show that this third party had a duty to act in a reasonable and safe manner, that they failed to perform that duty, and as a result of their failure, the employee was injured.
Under Massachusetts law, Mass. Gen. Law c. 152 §25A all employers are required to have workers compensation insurance, even if they are self-employed. If the employer does not have workers compensation insurance, the employee can bring a civil action against them, the same way they would bring a civil action against a third party. Employers in Massachusetts will also be fined by the Department of Industrial Accidents Office of Investigations (“DIA”) if they are found not to have insurance. This fine is a minimum of $100 each day the employer is without insurance.
According to the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, if you are injured while on the job the first step should always be to notify your employer immediately about your injury. After this, it is important to receive medical treatment for any injury sustained as soon as possible. By getting medical attention as soon as possible, it is easier to prove that you were injured at work. Otherwise, insurance companies may find that an injury did not occur in the workplace if there is a long span of time between the alleged injury and the treatment. An insurance company could then refuse to give an employee worker’s compensation coverage, which would result in an employee needing to hire an attorney for help in a worker’s compensation case.
If you or someone you know has been harmed in a work-related accident, please contact one of our experienced construction accident attorneys at Mitcheson & Lee, so that they can help you on your road to recovery.