Construction Accidents & Workers’ Compensation
If you have been injured while working at a construction site, your financial recovery may be affected by workers’ compensation laws, depending on your employment situation and the degree of liability on your employer’s part. Keep in mind that parties other than your employer may be legally responsible for your injuries (such as third-party contractors, property owners or equipment manufacturers) and your recovery from those parties will most likely not be affected by workers’ compensation laws.
If you or a family member was injured in a construction accident, contact Tolmage, Peskin, Harris, Falick in New York to schedule a consultation with a lawyer to learn how workers’ compensation laws in NY may affect your recovery.
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a system of laws outlining specific benefits to which an injured employee is entitled. Workers’ compensation benefits may include lost wages, medical expenses, disability and rehabilitation benefits. Most businesses must have workers’ compensation insurance to cover its employees. Filing a workers’ compensation claim is similar to filing any other insurance claim. It isn’t a lawsuit against an employer, but rather a request for benefits.
Under most workers’ compensation programs, an injured employee is entitled to:
- Medical care – The injured party has the right to all reasonably necessary treatment to cure or relieve the effects of the injury. While benefits may vary by state, this usually includes reimbursement for medical bills, prescriptions and reasonable travel expenses for necessary visits to the doctor for treatment.
An injured worker receiving benefits under his or her employer’s workers’ compensation plan may be required to use a company-approved doctor for treatment. Workers will want to check with their employers about this requirement, and discuss any other available options for medical care with their attorneys.
- Disability pay – If the injured worker must take time away from work either temporarily or permanently due to medical reasons related to the injury, he or she may be entitled to disability payments. There are specific maximum and minimum limits to the pay rate, and the amount varies by state. There are four different types of disability an injured worker may qualify for: temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent total disability and permanent partial disability.
Temporary total disability is the most common type of disability and is available during the period of time workers need to heal before they can return to their jobs. States have varying standards to determine if an injured worker is eligible for this type of benefit. Workers generally are paid a percentage of their wages, although states may have different formulas for determining the amount.
- Rehabilitation – There are two different types of rehabilitation benefits: physical and vocational. Generally, physical rehabilitation is intended to help an injured employee cope with and overcome the effects of the injury. This can include physical therapy and other assistance to help the employee return to the type of work he or she was doing before the injury.
If the injury is so severe that an employee will be unable to perform the duties of his or her old job, then vocational rehabilitation may be available. This type of rehabilitation focuses on job training so the worker can return to the workforce in a new capacity.
- Death benefits – If an employee suffers an injury at work or while performing job-related work and dies from that injury, the employee’s surviving family members are entitled to death benefits. While it is usually the spouse, children or parents who qualify for these benefits, some states allow other extended family members to collect if they were dependent on the deceased worker’s financial support.
What to do if you are injured
Here are tips for filing workers’ compensation claims if you are injured on the job:
- Report the injury to the employer. If possible, report the injury in writing and keep a copy of the report for your records.
- Complete a claim form. No matter how the employer learns of the incident, they must offer the injured worker a claim form immediately. Until this claim form is completed, the employer has no obligation to provide benefits. Make sure it is filled out completely and correctly. Keep a copy of the claim. It is then the employer’s responsibility to notify the workers’ compensation insurance company.
- File the claim as soon as possible. Those seeking to claim workers’ compensation benefits should do so quickly. Any delay on the injured worker’s part could lead to potential delays or even a loss of benefits. Immediately reporting injuries and filing a claim increases the likelihood that benefits will begin quickly.
Contact a construction accident attorney
Workers’ compensation laws and benefits vary greatly by state, but a lawyer can explain your particular state’s laws and help you determine a course of action. Contact Tolmage, Peskin, Harris, Falick in New York today to schedule a consultation with a construction site accident lawyer experienced in handling NY construction accident and workers’ compensation cases.