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Slip, Trip & Fall Injuries on New Jersey Construction Sites

Offered by Shebell & Shebell, LLC

Construction sites can be dangerous. Some of the dangers that may come to mind first include heavy equipment, electricity, falling objects, and explosions. While those are all significant causes of construction accidents, a highly underrated, much more mundane risk is the amount of slip and trip hazards strewn around the average construction site.

Construction workers who are hurt in slip, trip, and fall accidents have legal recourse, but getting to the bottom of what happened and what you can do about it isn’t easy. That’s where an experienced lawyer can make a meaningful difference.

What causes slips, trips, and falls on construction sites?

In the often-chaotic environment of a construction site, slip and trip hazards are everywhere. Construction workers may slip, trip, and fall on:

  • Sloped or uneven walking surfaces
  • Unfinished flooring
  • Ramps without skid-resistant surfaces
  • Stairs without railings
  • Slick spots from spills or inclement weather
  • Unsecured cables or hoses
  • Discarded building materials
  • General clutter and debris

Especially on outdoor construction sites, walking conditions can change quickly due to weather. Construction sites often do not have great lighting, and workers who are carrying armloads of materials may not even be able to see where they are stepping. It’s no wonder that thousands of construction workers are injured in slips, trips, and falls every year – most of which are preventable.

Falls can cause significant and even fatal injuries

Falls are among the leading causes of death among construction workers every year, and while most fatalities come in falls from heights (e.g., falls off ladders or scaffolding), some are trip and falls on the same level. Significant injuries can also result from falls, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI), broken bones, knee injuries, neck injuries, shoulder injuries, and more.

Because of the physical nature of construction work, injured workers may be unable to work for some time, even if they eventually make a full recovery. Other injuries such as brain injuries may cause permanent disability. In other words, slip and falls may seem minor, but they’re serious business. Injured construction workers need to know their rights and understand how to pursue compensation for those costs.

Workers’ compensation for construction slips, trips, and falls

In New Jersey, every employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover every employee. If you’re an employee hurt on the job, you can get workers’ comp to cover the full cost of your reasonable and necessary medical expenses, plus partial replacement of your lost wages and additional benefits if you are permanently disabled.

The advantage of workers’ compensation is that it’s a no-fault system. You don’t have to prove that the accident was your employer’s fault to get benefits; even if you tripped over your own feet, you’re still covered by workers’ comp. All that matters is that you were on the job when the injury happened.

Note that some construction workers are independent contractors, and contractors aren’t covered by workers’ comp. However, it’s also unfortunately common for workers in the construction industry to be misclassified as contractors when they legally should be considered employees and thus covered by workers’ compensation. If you’re told that you aren’t eligible for workers’ comp, it’s always best to talk to an attorney who can investigate and sort out the situation.

Third-party personal injury lawsuits for injured construction workers

If your work injury is covered by workers’ compensation, the tradeoff is that you usually can’t sue your employer for damages (financial compensation) for the injury, unless your employer’s conduct constituted an “intentional wrong” as defined by the New Jersey Supreme Court. You are limited to what’s covered by workers’ comp, which means no compensation for pain and suffering or other losses.

However, this protection only applies to your direct employer. On a construction site, there are usually multiple companies working together, and if you were injured by the negligence of someone working for another company, you are still free to file a “third-party” claim against that company. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to pursue compensation from a(n):

  • General contractor
  • Subcontractor
  • Property owner
  • Architect
  • Engineer
  • Manufacturer of defective equipment

The advantage of a third-party personal injury claim is that you can seek compensation for losses not covered by workers’ comp, such as excess wage loss, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. You can also file a lawsuit if you are an independent contractor not covered by workers’ comp at all. However, you do need to prove negligence on the part of another company – that is, that their careless action or inaction caused your slip, trip, and fall injury. These cases often require in-depth investigation to find evidence proving fault for the accident, and you definitely want an attorney on your side throughout that process.

If you were hurt on a construction site, talk to an attorney right away

You need to do three things when you’re in a slip and fall or trip and fall accident on a construction site. First, report the accident to your foreman or supervisor. Get the report in writing so you have a record of it to support your claim. Next, seek prompt medical attention, even if you feel fine. This is the safest option for your health, and again, it creates a record of your injuries to support your injury claim down the road.

Then, talk to an experienced construction accident lawyer. Your attorney can investigate your accident, get to the bottom of what happened, and advise you of your legal options, which may include workers’ compensation and/or a third-party claim. If you qualify for both workers’ comp and a third-party claim, your attorney can move both of those cases forward simultaneously while giving you space to focus on healing.

It's important to get legal advice as soon as possible. Evidence disappears quickly on construction sites, and there are critical legal deadlines that can affect your rights if you don’t get representation soon. If you were hurt in a slip, trip, and fall, talk to an experienced New Jersey construction accident attorney in your area today.

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Founded in 1927, Shebell & Shebell, LLC fights for the rights of injury victims. We handle workers’ compensation, construction accidents and personal injury claims. We have office...