In February WPRI reported that a construction worker in Swansea needed emergency assistance after a dock collapsed on top of him. The man, who was taken to a nearby hospital, was apparently in the process of building the structure and the cause of the accident, as well as his overall condition, was unknown.
When an on-the-job accident like this occurs a construction worker can be seriously injured, creating a domino effect that workers' compensation may not completely resolve. Without appropriate compensation, the worker may end up in serious financial trouble.
What workers' compensation covers
According to Massachusetts' Health and Human Services, all employees are protected if injured on the job regardless of immigration status, paid or voluntary work, and even if the worker is paid under the table. As such, practically any injured worker has the right to apply for compensation from their company's workers' compensation insurance.
Benefits of workers' compensation:
- Medical bills for illness, repetitive stress injuries, mental health problems, worsened health issues that are job related
- Lost income - up to 60 percent of income; maximum of $882.57 a week
- Lost limbs
- Job training if disabled from accident
- Cost of travel for medical care
When a construction worker is injured, it is important to remember that workers' compensation benefits are not automatically granted. An injured worker must file a claim and there is a chance that the claim can be denied.
Company responsibility, liability and workers' compensation insurance
Companies and employers have the legal responsibility of ensuring the safety of their workers from unnecessary risks and harm and are regulated to do so by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In the construction industry, when an accident occurs, investigators from OSHA come out to determine the cause of the accident and whether contractors and managers were negligent in their responsibilities.
When an OSHA investigation determines that the company was at fault for the injuries a construction worker received, then the company may be fined and forced to take measures to resolve the safety threat. Workers' compensation is separate from that process and is a state-specific insurance system administered by its own court that is meant to cover reasonable medical treatment and lost wages related to job-related injury. While workers' compensation will cover some of the expenses, it may not cover the full financial impact a work accident creates.
Legal action to obtain workers' compensation
While it's helpful to obtain the assistance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney when applying for workers' comp, it's even more crucial to obtain legal representation if you do not receive all benefits you may be entitled to or if the claim is denied by the insurance company. Moreover, if your employer did not obtain workers' compensation insurance when required, a injured worker may file a lawsuit against the employer and file a workers' compensation claim at the same time. In addition to a workers' compensation claim, under certain circumstances, a second claim can be brought for negligence which may allow for the recovery of pain and suffering. These types of claims are called "third party claims." Therefore, the help of an attorney can put you in the best position after you have endured the worst at work.