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Construction Site Accidents in New Jersey: Know Your Rights

November 21, 2023

Construction Site Accidents in New Jersey: Know Your Rights

Construction sites are inherently dangerous places. Heavy machinery, complex equipment, and the necessity for workers to perform tasks at considerable heights contribute to the high risk of accidents. In New Jersey, construction site accidents are alarmingly frequent, prompting concerns about worker safety and the responsibility of employers and site managers. If you or a loved one has been injured in such an accident, it’s crucial to know your rights and the legal avenues available to you. This post, presented by DiTomaso Law, aims to guide you through this complex terrain.

Common Types of Construction Accidents

Construction sites are renowned for the potential dangers they pose, with accidents varying in severity and consequences. In New Jersey, as in most places, some types of construction accidents are more common than others. Here’s a breakdown of the common types of construction accidents that occur in New Jersey:

  • Falls from Heights: A leading cause of construction injuries, falls can occur from scaffolds, ladders, roofs, or any elevated work area. Without proper safety equipment or when such equipment fails, workers can sustain serious injuries like fractures, spinal injuries, or traumatic brain injuries.
  • Being Struck by Falling Objects: Items like tools, construction materials, or debris that fall from elevated areas can strike workers below, leading to head injuries, concussions, or other traumas.
  • Machinery and Equipment Accidents: New Jersey construction sites utilize various heavy machinery. Inadequate training, machinery malfunctions, or human errors can result in workers being trapped, crushed, or even suffering amputations.
  • Electrocutions: The mishandling of electrical equipment, proximity to power lines, or faulty equipment can lead to an electrocution injury. This type of accident can result in burns, heart arrhythmias, or fatalities.
  • Trench or Building Collapses: When trenches are not properly secured, they can cave in, trapping workers inside. Similarly, unsupported structures can collapse, leading to crushing injuries.
  • Fires and Explosions: These can arise from faulty gas lines, mishandled flammable materials, or electrical malfunctions. Injuries from such accidents may range from burns to more serious respiratory problems from smoke inhalation.
  • Exposure to Hazardous Materials: Some construction sites have hazardous chemicals. Without proper protection, workers can suffer skin burns, respiratory issues, or long-term health complications.
  • Vehicle Accidents: Construction zones often have moving vehicles, like trucks and forklifts. Accidents can occur if drivers are not attentive or if the path of the vehicle isn’t clear, leading to collisions with workers.
  • Slips, Trips, and Falls: Uneven surfaces, wet areas, or misplaced tools and materials can cause workers to slip or trip, resulting in minor injuries like strains and sprains or more severe injuries if they fall onto hard surfaces or onto dangerous equipment.
  • Overexertion: This might not be an ‘accident’ in the traditional sense, but many workers suffer injuries from lifting heavy objects, repetitive motions, or working in extreme temperatures.

The common thread among these accidents is the element of danger inherent to construction sites. Proper training, adherence to safety protocols, and the use of appropriate safety equipment are crucial in preventing such accidents.

Worker’s Compensation vs. Personal Injury Claims

When an accident occurs on a construction site in New Jersey, workers generally think of workers’ compensation as the primary means of financial relief. But what’s the difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury claims?

  • Workers’ Compensation: This is a form of insurance that offers benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. It covers medical expenses, a portion of lost wages, rehabilitation, and death benefits. In New Jersey, accepting workers’ compensation usually means the worker gives up the right to sue the employer for negligence.
  • Personal Injury Claims: Unlike worker’s compensation, a personal injury claim arises when someone’s negligence causes harm to another. In the context of construction, this could be a negligent coworker, equipment manufacturer, or even a third party. A successful personal injury claim can result in compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

It’s worth noting that while you may not be able to sue your employer due to worker’s compensation laws, there may be third parties responsible for your injuries, opening the avenue for a personal injury claim.

Legal Steps to Take

Experiencing an accident on a construction site in New Jersey can be both physically painful and emotionally overwhelming. However, taking the right legal steps afterward is crucial to ensuring you get the compensation and support you’re entitled to. Here’s a guideline on the legal steps to take after construction accidents in New Jersey:

Immediate Medical Attention 

Always prioritize your health. Even if you believe your injuries are minor, it’s essential to seek medical attention immediately. This not only ensures your well-being but also provides medical documentation that can be crucial in legal proceedings.

Report the Accident 

Inform your supervisor or employer about the accident as soon as possible. Ensure that a formal accident report is filed with your employer. This report can be a vital piece of evidence if you decide to pursue legal action.

Document Everything

  • Take photos of your injuries and the accident scene.
  • Capture images of any equipment or machinery involved.
  • Note the conditions that contributed to the accident (like faulty equipment, unsafe working conditions, etc.).
  • Keep a record of all medical treatments, medications, and therapies you receive.
  • Document any days missed from work and any other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident.

Gather Witnesses

If there were any coworkers or other individuals who witnessed the accident, obtain their contact information. Their testimonies can play a crucial role if you decide to file a claim.

Do Not Give Statements

Avoid giving any formal statements, especially to insurance adjusters, without legal counsel. Anything you say can be used against you in the future.

Consult an Attorney

Before signing any documents or agreeing to settlements, it’s imperative to consult with an experienced construction accident attorney. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation, ensuring your rights are protected.

File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

In New Jersey, most construction workers are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. This insurance can cover medical bills, a portion of lost wages, and other benefits. However, it’s crucial to file the claim within the stipulated timeframe to be eligible for compensation.

Consider a Third-Party Personal Injury Lawsuit

Beyond workers’ compensation, if a third party (such as an equipment manufacturer, subcontractor, or property owner) contributed to your injury due to their negligence, you might have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. This can offer additional compensation not covered by workers’ compensation, such as pain and suffering.

Stay Updated with Medical Appointments

Continue attending all medical appointments and following your doctor’s advice. This not only aids in your recovery but also demonstrates the seriousness of your injuries.

Follow Through with the Legal Process

If you pursue a lawsuit, stay involved and informed throughout the legal process. Keep in regular contact with your attorney and provide any necessary information promptly.

Key Takeaway

Remember, while your health and recovery are paramount, ensuring you take the correct legal steps post-accident can significantly impact your ability to receive the compensation and support you deserve. If in doubt at any stage, consulting with a knowledgeable attorney is always the best course of action.

Contact an Experienced Construction Site Accident Lawyer at DiTomaso Law for a Free Consultation About Your Case Today

Construction site accidents in New Jersey can have devastating consequences for the injured and their families. While safety measures are paramount, accidents still occur, often due to negligence. Knowing the distinction between workers’ compensation and personal injury claims can empower you to seek the rightful compensation you deserve.

If you or a loved one has been injured on a construction site, do not navigate these challenging waters alone. Seek the expertise and guidance of experienced professionals. At DiTomaso Law, we’re dedicated to ensuring your rights are upheld and that you receive the compensation you rightfully deserve. Contact us today to discuss your case and let us be your advocate in these trying times.

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