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Gastonia Construction Injury Lawyer

Gastonia Construction Injury Attorney

Construction work carries a lot of natural risk. A job site is full of potential accidents waiting to happen. It’s critical that the appropriate precautionary measures be taken to avoid injuries. There are times, though, when injuries still occur. They may be minor, but given the danger a construction site can pose, there are times when the injuries may be quite significant. The injuries have costs that come with them as well. Medical bills, missed work, and the psychological effects of the injury all pile on a person.

There is, though, a legal requirement for your employer or whoever is responsible for the injury to cover the costs. However, that’s not always easy to identify, and it can often lead to a difficult time getting the insurance companies that cover these claims to do what they should. When you let a Gastonia construction injury lawyer represent you, you’ll have a team fighting to get what you deserve.

The attorneys at Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler are dedicated to protecting workers and ensuring they’re not taken advantage of. When you’re injured at a construction site, let them help.

Gastonia Construction Injury Lawyer

Who Might Be at Fault for a Construction Injury?

Assuming that the injury came in the course of doing your job and wasn’t the result of horseplay, intoxication, or some other unsanctioned behaviors at work, then there are a number of parties who may potentially be at fault. While many people assume it’s your employer who is at fault for a workplace injury, that may not always be the case.

This is particularly true of a construction site in Gastonia, NC, where there may be many different parties involved because of the nature of the project. More parties mean that there is more opportunity for mistakes that could lead to injuries. Some of the parties that could potentially be at fault for a construction injury include:

  • General Contractor – It’s the responsibility of the general contractor to provide and maintain a safe working environment for anyone on the construction site. This means things like implementing safety protocols, providing or requiring proper safety equipment, and requiring safe behavior from workers and subcontractors. Failure to do these kinds of things could result in their being seen as the party at fault in a construction injury.
  • Subcontractors – For many construction projects, there is work involved that goes beyond the scope of what those hired by the general contractor are capable of doing, so for various needs, subcontractors are brought in to do the work. Larger projects can have several subcontractors brought to the site throughout a project. It’s possible that failure to follow safety protocols, a mistake, or some other negligence could lead to the subcontractor being at fault.
  • Architects and Engineers – The design and functionality of a construction project are often put together by architects and engineers. When there is some kind of engineering flaw or issue with the design that leads to an injury, then they may be held responsible.
  • Manufacturers or Suppliers – A construction site is full of different materials, tools, and other equipment. In some cases, it could be a defect with one of these things that leads to an injury, and in those cases, depending on how the product became defective, the manufacturer or supplier may be one of the parties at fault for the accident.
  • Property Owners – There are some circumstances where the property owner may be aware that something about the location where the construction was taking place was unsafe. Failure to properly address these issues may mean that the property owner is at fault.
  • Safety Inspectors – When safety inspections are insufficient, flaws are overlooked, or something else about the inspection is negligent, it can be the safety inspector who is at fault for the injury.
  • Governments – Some construction projects will take place on public property or otherwise involve the government. This could mean that the government may be at fault if their negligence was a contributing factor.
  • Other Third Parties – Anyone else whose direct connection to the construction site and negligence may have had a role in the injury could be one of the parties at fault.

Is Your Situation a Worker’s Compensation Claim or a Personal Injury Claim?

One of the trickier aspects of a construction injury is determining what kind of claim you will need to make to seek recovery for your injuries. For the most part, this will be determined based on what parties should be held liable. In almost all cases where you or your employer is the one who is at fault for the injury, it will result in a worker’s compensation claim.

When it is someone other than your employer, it will likely be a personal injury claim. However, these general rules are not uniform in every situation.

Every construction injury is unique, and there are often situations where the circumstances surrounding an injury are complex. It’s not uncommon for multiple parties to be at fault. Understanding just how to go about seeking compensation from these different parties can be confusing. That’s why it is important to work with an experienced construction injury lawyer who will understand how to maximize your compensation.

The Worker’s Compensation Process

If the party responsible for your injury is your employer, then your injury will most likely be covered by worker’s compensation. In North Carolina, with very rare exceptions, any employer who has a minimum of three employees is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. The likelihood is that your employer falls into this category, and if you are injured, it will be the insurance company that will be responsible for paying your worker’s compensation.

There are times when the process may be simple and efficient; however, insurance companies are cautious and highly suspicious of fraud. They have a tendency to deny claims they shouldn’t or lowball the payout. This also helps their profit margins, so they have plenty of incentive not to treat you fairly. Working with the right lawyer can help pressure the workers’ compensation insurance companies to do the right thing.

To receive workers’ compensation, you will have to make sure that you follow the proper procedure. To begin with, you’ll want to make sure that you notify your employer promptly when you discover an injury, ideally within 30 days. To keep a paper record, it’s a good idea to notify them in writing.

You will also want to seek medical treatment and tell the healthcare provider that it’s work-related. It’s critical that you follow the medical recommendations that you are given and continue to attend any follow-up evaluations.

Your employer should provide you with the proper forms to fill out for the workers’ compensation claim. Be sure to fill out these forms promptly and return them to your employer. Once everything is returned, you will have to wait to hear a decision from the workers’ compensation provider. They will either deny your claim or approve it and explain the benefits that they are going to pay.

It can be helpful to contact a lawyer early on in the process. Not only can they help you understand the workers’ compensation process, but they can also help you understand if anyone else might be liable. They may be able to give you some idea of what kind of compensation package you should expect to receive. If your claim is denied or the compensation is not sufficient, a lawyer can help you dispute the decision and follow the appeal process as well.

What Does Worker’s Compensation Cover?

The precise nature of what workers’ compensation should cover varies depending upon the nature and effects of the injury. There are four categories of disability that could be assigned with workers’ compensation, each with different compensation that can also vary based on the kind of injury:

  • Temporary Partial Disability – In this case, you are still able to work but not at the full capacity that you were able to prior to the injury. However, you are expected to make a full enough recovery to return to work at that same capacity in the future.
  • Temporary Total Disability – With total disability, you are unable to work at all, but your injuries are something you will likely recover from enough to work at full capacity again once they heal.
  • Permanent Partial Disability – In this situation, your injuries are expected to permanently limit your ability to work but not prevent you from working altogether.
  • Permanent Total Disability – If your injuries are expected to permanently keep you from working, then you may be awarded permanent total disability.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

The benefits that are paid will depend on the needs of your situation. A workers’ compensation lawyer can give you a better idea of what you should expect based on your specific circumstances. Some of the things that are covered include:

  • Medical Costs – The nature of the medical costs you will incur depends on the severity of the injury, but it could include hospital stays, surgeries, doctor’s visits, medication, and physical therapy or rehabilitation.
  • Wage Replacement – There are maximum and minimum limits, but in North Carolina, you could receive up to two-thirds of your average weekly wage tax-free.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation – In some cases, an injured worker may be able to return to some form of work but not necessarily the same kind of work. Some training and employment services to help find a new career may be covered.
  • Penalties and Interest – If your benefits were denied or delayed without sufficient cause, it’s possible that you could be awarded penalties and interest that the workers’ compensation provider is responsible for paying.
  • Death Benefits – If there is a work-related death, then benefits may be awarded to surviving family members. This could also cover the funeral and burial expenses.

The Personal Injury Process

There are many possible situations when a work injury is not the fault of a worker’s employer. In these situations, it may be that a personal injury claim is the appropriate way to seek restitution for the injuries. To collect on a personal injury claim, your lawyer must demonstrate the three components of negligence on the part of the defendant. It’s necessary to prove these in order for the defendant to be held liable for your injuries. The three components are:

  • A Duty to Care – Showing that the defendant had a duty to care means that they had a responsibility to those around them to behave with a reasonable level of carefulness to protect others around them from unnecessary risk and danger. They must have a duty to take reasonable precautions in the circumstance in which the injury occurred. Generally, this is not something that is difficult to prove as related to a construction site. There is enough inherent risk and danger involved with construction that a need for reasonable caution is understandable.
  • A Breach of Duty – Once a duty to care has been demonstrated, your lawyer must then be able to show how that duty wasn’t met. This could be either some action that puts others at risk or inaction where a certain level of precaution should have been implemented. Exactly what a breach could look like depends on the defendant. It could be something like not following proper caution on the job site in some situations. In other situations, it could be producing or selling a defective product.
  • Cause of Injury – The last thing that your lawyer will need to be able to show is that the breach of duty was the direct cause of your injury. There may be situations where there is a breach, but it doesn’t lead to the injury. Therefore, your lawyer must demonstrate a direct connection. Since most injuries on a construction site are the product of an accident, this could be a two-part process where your lawyer first shows how the breach caused the accident and then how the accident caused your injuries. It’s important to connect the injuries directly with the accident as well because, in some situations, the defendant may claim there were pre-existing conditions or that the injuries occurred in some incident after the accident.

What Do Personal Injury Damages Cover?

In a personal injury case, compensation is paid out through what is known as damages. Just as the injury needed a direct connection with the breach, the costs that you are seeking damages for need a direct connection with the injury. The damages in a personal injury claim are paid in three different categories:

  • Economic Damages – There are a number of costs associated with an injury that have a clear financial component. These costs are usually easy to calculate, grouped together, and paid out through economic damages. These include things like medical bills and lost wages from missing work. These could also be future costs if the injuries are serious enough to warrant them. For instance, future medical bills, the costs of physical therapy and rehabilitation, and lost earning capacity are estimated and paid through economic damages.
  • Non-Economic Damages – There are also costs that come from an injury that doesn’t have a clear financial element because they are more psychological or emotional. Things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment in life are given value and paid out through non-economic damages. The money may help in some small ways to address the issues, but it is largely a help with easing burdens in other aspects of life.
  • Punitive Damages – This is a category of damages that are meant to serve as a punishment for particularly egregious behavior on the part of the defendant. These aren’t awarded in most cases, but if something about the defendant’s actions was malicious or excessively reckless, then there is a chance they could be awarded.

An important thing to understand when considering damages in a personal injury claim in North Carolina is that the state operates off of a pure contributory negligence doctrine. This means that the defendant is given the opportunity to argue that the plaintiff is also at fault for their injuries.

This puts the burden of proof on the defendant’s lawyers, and they must prove the three elements of negligence on the part of the plaintiff. If they are able to do so successfully, then the defendant will not be allowed to collect any damages. This means an important component of bringing a personal injury claim is being able to defend against any fault on the plaintiff’s part.

How a Gastonia Construction Injury Lawyer Can Help

If you’ve been in a construction injury, working with an on-the-job injury lawyer can be essential to ensuring you get the compensation that you deserve. Your lawyer can help you from start to finish through the process of seeking compensation and can represent you in negotiation and before the court.

If you contact a lawyer, like those at Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler, after an injury, one of the first things they can do is help you understand who may be responsible for compensating you based on the injuries you suffered and the circumstances around them. They can help you understand if your situation involves a workers’ compensation claim or personal injury claim. In either case, your lawyer can help you understand what should be covered if your claim is successful.

Your lawyer will investigate your case to see what was behind your injuries and who is potentially to blame for what happened. If it seems likely that your case could be headed for hearings and trials, they might gather together facts and evidence and interview witnesses regarding what occurred.

While much of this investigation may be centered on proving fault on the part of other parties, that may not be the only emphasis. If a personal liability claim seems likely, then it’s probable that your lawyer will also consider how the defendant’s lawyers may try to argue fault on your part. Your lawyer will likely also look for anything that may be helpful in defending against those accusations.

Your lawyer can help you and represent you through the complex processes of workers’ compensation and personal injury. They can help ensure that all forms are properly filled out, information is provided in a timely fashion, and proper procedure is followed.

This is essential because failing to follow the right process or errors in forms and other documents provided could lead to unnecessary delays and even a rejection of your claim. Seeing that things are done properly is critical to your efforts to get what you’re owed. Working with a lawyer is one of the surest ways to know you are doing the right things at the proper time.

Your lawyer can also act as your representative when negotiating with the insurance companies that are going to have to pay out your claim. There are situations where negotiating an agreement may be preferable to both parties as a way of avoiding lengthy hearings and court procedures. Your lawyer can represent you in these negotiations to see that you don’t get taken advantage of.

However, if those negotiations do end up in a dead end, your lawyer will be prepared to represent you through the legal process and to stand up for what you deserve in restitution for your injuries.

Construction Injuries Can Be Complicated, but We Can Help You Seek the Compensation You Need

Construction injuries can often be serious and have significant consequences for those injured in them. The injuries can often be costly as well. Fortunately, the law does allow for those costs to be addressed and for the injured to seek a path to restitution. However, there are often a number of different challenges that can come up when trying to get what you deserve. One challenge is determining who’s at fault and whether the case is a workers’ comp claim or a personal injury claim.

In either case, these are usually paid out by insurance companies who may try to deny the claim or lowball you. This could mean the complex process of getting the legal system involved to get what you need. Working with a Gastonia construction injury lawyer can help you navigate through this process and give you a better chance of getting what you deserve.

At Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler, we work with those injured in a construction accident to see that they get what they deserve. Contact us to discuss your case today.