Despite being a heavily regulated and unionized labor sector, the construction industry remains one of the most dangerous in the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, in a typical year, construction laborers suffer nonfatal work injuries resulting in time missed at work at about twice the rate as the workforce at large. These workers are often left with substantial medical bills and lost wages, to say nothing of the physical and emotional consequences of a painful injury.
If you were hurt in a construction accident in Illinois, the Noll Law Office wants to help you get the compensation you need for the harm you suffered. Attorneys Daniel Noll and Sarah Noll can review your case, gather evidence, and determine your options for recovery. They can then pursue a workers’ compensation claim, personal injury lawsuit, or both. Contact them today for a free consultation with an Illinois construction accident lawyer and learn more about your options.
Construction Site Accidents in Illinois
According to the Midwest Information Office of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the private construction industry in Illinois had an incident rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses of about 2.2 per 100 workers in one recent year. About three-quarters of these incidents resulted in days off work, job transfer, or restricted duties. About 4,300 workers missed days off work that year, while 19 injuries proved fatal.
Workers injured on the job have two primary options for pursuing compensation, depending on the circumstances: the workers’ compensation system and personal injury lawsuits.
Construction Site Accident Claims vs. Lawsuits – Know Your Rights
Construction site accidents can result in serious injuries, including broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and severe burns. If you have been injured on a construction site, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. But it’s important to understand the difference between construction accident claims and lawsuits and how those differences might affect you practically.
Workers’ Compensation Claims – Protecting Injured Workers
In Illinois, the workers’ compensation system covers employees who are hurt on the job, regardless of who is at fault for their injuries. Employees injured in a construction site accident are likely eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, which can cover the following:
- All their medical expenses related to the injury
- Two-thirds of their lost wages, subject to a state-mandated cap
- Any long-term disability or impairment they might have suffered
- Death benefits for surviving family members, if the injury proves fatal
If you are a direct employee of the construction company, your employer is almost always required by law to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to protect you. In exchange for doing so, they are largely shielded from litigation arising from their negligence or wrongdoing, with only limited exceptions. In other words, if your employer provides workers’ compensation, you probably can’t sue them, even if they are to blame for your injuries. At times, certain employer actions, (for example OSHA violations), can lead to higher financial penalties.
Personal Injury Lawsuits – Holding Negligent Parties Accountable
In some cases, construction site accidents are caused by the negligence of third parties – that is, people outside the injured worker’s chain of employment. Examples of potentially negligent third parties include:
- Equipment manufacturers
- Property owners
- Architects and engineers
If you were injured in a construction site accident that was caused by the negligence of a third party, you might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to hold them accountable for your injuries and losses in addition to filing a worker’s compensation lien. A successful lawsuit can compensate you for a wider range of losses than those covered by workers’ comp, including:
- Medical expenses– Including the cost of medical treatment, hospitalization, surgeries, medication, rehabilitation, therapy, and other related medical expenses you incurred as a result of the injury
- Lost wages– Including the income or wages lost due to your injury, both in the past and in the future, if the injury has resulted in a temporary or permanent inability to work or reduced earning capacity
- Property damage– Any damage to your personal property, such as a vehicle or personal belongings, that occurred as a result of the accident
- Pain and suffering– The physical and emotional pain, suffering, and discomfort you experienced because of the injury
- Emotional distress– The psychological or emotional distress, such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD, you experienced because of the injury
- Loss of enjoyment of life– The diminished quality of life that comes from not being able to enjoy activities and relationships as you once did
In Illinois, workers’ compensation cases must usually be completed before a personal injury lawsuit can move forward. Oftentimes, workers’ compensation companies seek repayment from the personal injury lawsuit. It becomes legally complicated, and therefore an attorney is always recommended in these cases.
Wrongful Death and Survival Actions – Seeking Justice for Families
Losing a loved one to a construction accident in Illinois is devastating. Wrongful death and survival actions provide a legal avenue to families seeking to hold responsible parties accountable for any negligent or wrongful acts that led to the death of their loved one. Generally speaking, if an injured worker could have pursued a personal injury lawsuit had they lived, their surviving family members can pursue a wrongful death claim instead. Additionally, the surviving family can also sue for the losses that occurred after their loved one died.
In Illinois, only the personal representative of a deceased’s estate, usually an executor or independent administrator, can bring a wrongful death or survival action suit, which they do on behalf of the deceased person and his or her surviving spouse, children, or next of kin. A successful lawsuit can provide those survivors with money for the following:
- Funeral expenses of their loved ones
- Payment of their loved one’s medical bills that were sustained from their injury and death
- Payment towards their loved one’s pain and suffering before their death
- Loss of financial support provided by the deceased
- Loss of consortium, or the romantic relationship between spouses
- Loss of instruction the deceased would have provided their children
- Grief and emotional suffering of the surviving family members
Remember, workers’ compensation also provides death benefits to the families of those who pass away as a result of on-the-job injuries. Those benefits are statutory and calculated with specific formulas, but can be very long-term in nature, sometimes up to 25 years. Unlike in a wrongful death suit, the survivors do not usually need to prove that someone else was to blame for their loved one’s injuries to recover these benefits.
Common Causes of Construction Site Accidents in Illinois
Construction sites are inherently dangerous places, which can lead to accidents resulting in severe injuries or fatalities. In Illinois, common causes of construction site accidents include the following:
- Falls– Falls from heights, such as ladders, scaffolds, or roofs, are a leading cause of construction site accidents. Lack of proper fall protection, improper use of equipment, and failure to follow safety regulations can all contribute to fall accidents.
- Electrocution– Electrical equipment is everywhere on construction sites, and contact with live wires, ungrounded wires, or faulty electrical systems can result in electrocution accidents. Failure to de-energize electrical systems or lack of proper training and precautions can lead to serious injuries or fatalities.
- Collapsed structures– Construction jobs often require excavation, trenching, or building of structures. The collapse of trenches, walls, roofs, or other structures can lead to serious injuries or fatalities, often caused by failure to follow proper shoring and excavation practices or the use of faulty materials.
- Explosions or fires– Combustible materials, welding, or other activities can lead to explosions or fires. Failure to follow proper safety protocols, lack of proper training, or faulty equipment can result in catastrophic accidents.
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals– Many construction jobs require the use of hazardous chemicals, such as lead, harsh chemicals, or other toxic substances. Improper handling, storage, or disposal of these items, or lack of proper protective measures, can present severe health hazards for workers and others on the site.
- Machinery accidents– Construction sites often involve heavy machinery, such as cranes, bulldozers, forklifts, or power tools. Accidents can occur due to operator error, lack of proper training, mechanical failure, or failure to follow safety protocols, resulting in serious injuries or fatalities.
Common Construction Site Injuries in Illinois
Construction site accidents often lead to serious injuries, including the following:
- Fractures and broken bones
- Head injuries/traumatic brain injuries
- Back, neck, and spinal injuries
- Cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds
- Crush injuries
- Respiratory damage
- Soft tissue injuries like sprains, strains, and tears
What Should You Do After a Construction Site Accident?
The things you do in the moments, days, and weeks after a construction site accident can affect your ability to recover the compensation you need to move on with your life. Take as many of the following steps as possible to protect yourself and your legal rights:
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Report the accident to your supervisor, preferably in writing.
- Gather evidence, if possible, such as photos of the scene, any hazards that contributed to the accident, and the names of anyone who saw it happen.
- If necessary, notify local police authorities (for example if a motorist strikes a construction worker)
- Follow all medical and legal recommendations.
- Consult with an experienced attorney.
The sooner you reach out to an experienced attorney, the more they can do on your behalf – and the likelier you are to get the full compensation you deserve.
How The Noll Law Office Can Help:
The Illinois construction accident lawyers at the Noll Law Office are dedicated to helping workers who’ve been hurt on the job by:
- Providing free, no-obligation consultations to all prospective clients
- Thoroughly investigating accidents to gather evidence and determine all options for pursuing compensation
- Timely filing of all necessary paperwork to expedite the workers’ comp claims process
- Representing their clients at appeals hearings as needed
- Negotiating aggressively with negligent parties and insurers to secure fair settlements
- Going to court when it becomes the best way to secure full compensation
Ready to find out what they can do for you? Then contact the Noll Law Office today at (217) 414-8889 and speak with a construction accident lawyer in Illinois for free.