A claim for construction worker injury compensation can be one of the most difficult personal injury claims to assess accurately. It potentially includes complications surrounding your health, the option of working again at the site where your accident occurred and your long term financial security. To overlook any element of a construction worker injury claim could result in the settlement of your claim being inadequate to pay for medical care or support your family.
For this reason, it is advisable to seek professional legal advice relative to your particular circumstances. Inasmuch as this page provides general guidance for the procedures that should be followed to before making a claim for compensation when you have sustained an injury in a construction site accident for which you were not to blame – and some of the problems you may encounter – no two claims for construction worker injury compensation are identical. The circumstances surrounding your construction site accident may not be unique, but it is highly likely that the effects of your injury will be.
Prioritise Your Health before Claiming Compensation
When you are hurt in a construction site accident, your health must take priority over claiming compensation for a construction site injury. If you sustained a major injury in a construction site accident, your natural instincts would have told you to go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital if an ambulance had not been summoned for you. However some people feel that it is noble to work through the pain or to rely on preliminary first aid facilities provided at the site to tend to their injuries.
Not only is it crucial for the good of your health that you seek professional medical attention as soon as possible, but also necessary if you intend to make a claim for compensation. Without evidence of an injury being recorded in your medical records, it will be impossible to make a claim for a construction worker accident and, should you delay a medical examination, an employer or his insurance company could claim that you made your injuries worse by your own lack of care.
Eligibility for Construction Worker Accident Compensation
Accidents on construction sites happen for many different reasons; and not all of them will entitle you to make a claim for construction worker injury compensation. To be eligible to claim compensation for an injury sustained on a construction site, it has to be proven that your injury was sustained due to a lack of care by your employer or other person on the construction site who was responsible for providing you with a safe environment in which to work.
There are many areas in which an employer or health and safety officer has responsibility to prevent construction site accidents – starting with an assessment of the risks attached to the job assigned to you and your ability to complete it safely. Training where necessary, supervision and the ongoing monitoring of your performance are all essential areas of employer/site manager responsibility and, where tools or machinery are provided, they should be in a good condition.
Your employer/site manager is also obliged to inform you of any risks associated with your job, provide you with adequate personal protective equipment should you need it to safeguard against a personal injury, and ensure that you use any safety equipment provided for you. Should your employer, any other person with accountability for health and safety or one of your work colleagues be responsible for an accident which results in an injury due to negligence or a breach in their duty of care, you should be eligible for construction worker injury compensation.
Generally, your employment status does not affect your eligibility to construction worker accident compensation. Sub-contractors, manual labourers and self-employed workers are all owed the same duty of care when working on a construction site. Your injury at work rights are rarely influenced by your employment status, but if you have any concerns about whether you are eligible for construction worker accident compensation you should speak with a solicitor as soon as possible.
How to Proceed with a Claim for a Construction Site Injury
Once it has been determined that an injury sustained in a construction site accident was due to a lack of care, there are certain procedures that should be completed to support your claim for a construction worker injury. If your injuries do not prevent you from doing so, you should report your injury to the person responsible for health and safety and make an entry in the site´s “Accident Report Book”. Your written report provides you with the opportunity to give your version of how the construction site accident occurred and how it was caused.
Your employer/site manager then has a legal obligation to report your accident and injury to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) if the injuries from your accident fall into certain categories, result in an absence from work of more than seven days or are a “near-miss” event in which you sustained minor injuries. Research has suggested that only half of employers fulfil their duty to report such accidents – possibly due to the fear that the HSE may investigate the accident or dangerous occurrence and find other health and safety issues for which the employer may face a substantial fine.
Even though the conclusions of an HSE investigation could add significant weight to your construction worker accident claim for compensation, there are certain measures you can take yourself in order to increase the likelihood of a swift and satisfactory resolution of your claim. These measures include taking photographs of the scene of your accident, writing a list of colleagues who may have seen how you came to be injured and discovering if other health and safety issues have been noted on the construction site.
It may be necessary to engage a solicitor to carry out these procedures for you if your health does not allow you to collect evidence in support of your construction worker injury claim. You should never put yourself at risk of further injury by trying to speed up your claim or wait for the HSE to conclude their investigation before speaking with a solicitor. The HSE may be looking for more than just the causes of your construction site accident, and this could delay how long you may have to wait to receive a settlement to your construction worker accident claim.
Construction Worker Injury Claim Procedures
One of the main reasons for engaging the services of a solicitor with experience of construction site accidents is that he or she will be aware of the procedures for making a construction accident injury claim and will appreciated the importance of collecting evidence of your accident at an early stage. As proof of negligence is often removed immediately after a construction site accident, a solicitor´s help may be the difference between making a successful construction worker accident claim or not.
Once negligence is established, your solicitor will send a Letter of Claim to your employer or site manager. The recipient has twenty-one days in which to reply to the letter and then a further three months to acknowledge or deny their liability for your injuries. Should liability be acknowledged, your solicitor will calculate how much compensation for a construction site injury you are entitled to, and settle your construction worker accident claim with the negligent party´s insurance company.
If the negligent party denies his liability, or alleges that you contributed to either the cause of the construction site accident or the extent of your injuries by your own negligence, your solicitor will still try to settle the claim for a construction worker accident by negotiation; however the likelihood is that he or she will have to issue court proceedings. During this time an offer of settlement may be made by either party but, as you will see below, unsolicited offers from insurance companies should be treated with caution.
Frequently, the issuing of court proceedings will be sufficient to initiate an out-of-court settlement of construction worker injury compensation; however your solicitor will have already prepared your claim as strongly as possible to ensure that, if your case has to be litigated in court, that a judge will have little difficulty in confirming liability and making a judgement on how much compensation for a construction site accident you should receive.
How Much Compensation for a Construction Site Accident?
How much compensation for a construction site accident you may be entitled to is going to depend on the severity of your injuries, how they affect your ability to perform day-to-day activities, what impact they will have on your future ability to earn an income and any financial expenses you incur.
Your profession within the construction injury can also influence how much compensation for a construction site accident you may be entitled to receive and the list below offers some of the most common trades that are found on building sites and typical injuries they may sustain.
Construction Site Apprentice Injury Compensation
Compensation for construction site apprentice injuries should take into account that apprentices are generally younger and will have to live with any permanent construction site injury for a longer number of years than most other construction site tradesmen.
Compensation for Construction Site Bricklayer Injury
Construction site bricklayer injury compensation claims most frequently follow a fall from an insecure ladder or poorly constructed scaffold. Devastating psychological injuries as well as those suffered physically should be taken into account when compiling a claim for compensation.
Construction Site Carpenter Injury Compensation
Compensation for construction site carpenter injuries can often be claimed if a carpenter has fallen from height due to a lack of safety equipment or if faulty machinery is responsible for causing an injury. Carpenters may also be at risk from injuries from forklift trucks manoeuvring without supervision.
Compensation for Construction Site Electrician Injury
Construction site electrician injury compensation claims may follow an electrocution accident or a slip and fall on a building site. Serious internal injuries can be sustained in an electrical accident and a claim for electrician injury will be delayed until all the consequences of the injury are known.
Construction Site Glazier Injury Compensation
Compensation for construction site glazier injuries should consider possible scar injury compensation when a shattered piece of glass has left a deep wound or more physically debilitating injuries in the event of a fall through a fragile roof.
Compensation for Construction Site Joiner Injury
Construction site joiner injury compensation claims can occur for many different reasons on a building site. Accidents from faulty machinery, falls from height and injuries due to debris being discarded from height can all result in injuries which result in a significant deterioration in the victim´s quality of life.
Construction Site Labourer Injury Compensation
Compensation for construction site labourer injuries can similarly be due to many different forms of negligence. Collapsing walls, subsiding trenches and being run over by a vehicle on site can cause some of the more severe injuries for which a building site labourer would be entitled to compensation.
Compensation for Construction Site Metalworker Injury
Construction site metalworker injury claims are more likely to be attributable to the tools metal workers use and the heat they produce. Arc burn accidents can typically result in significant construction worker compensation settlements when there has been a failure to provide adequate protection against injury.
Construction Site Plasterer Injury Compensation
Compensation for construction site plasterer injuries can be claimed for a number of the scenarios already mentioned above. One additional risk which often applies to plasterers is considerable manually handling, which can result in a serious back injury if not managed correctly.
Compensation for Construction Site Painter Injury
Construction site painter injury compensation claims may be for exposure to chemical hazards as much as the exposure to physical hazards. Permanent lung damage can be caused by the inhalation of certain chemicals if adequate protection against injury is not provided.
Construction Site Plumber Injury Compensation
Compensation for construction site plumber injuries most frequently is a result of lifting heavy tank and drain covers and carrying heavy pipes, gas bottles and plumbing fixtures. All of these injuries are avoidable with the correct risk assessment and provision of lifting and carrying machinery.
Compensation for Construction Site Roofer Injury
Construction site roofer injury compensation claims are mostly concerned with the consequences of a fall from height, and even though safety regulations have become much tougher recently, working on a roof during inclement weather can result in additional hazards with should be accounted for.
Construction Site Stonemason Injury Compensation
Compensation for construction site stonemason injuries has to consider the long term consequences of avoidable manual handling injuries and vibration injuries from power tools, as well as the life-threatening diseases which can be contracted from inhaling stone dust.
Compensation for Construction Site Tiler Injury
Construction site tiler injury compensation claims may not deal with such devastating injuries as can be sustained elsewhere on a building site, but the constant bending, kneeling, stretching and reaching actions performed by a tiler can result in permanent musculoskeletal injuries.
How Contributory Negligence can affect a Construction Worker Accident Claim
How much compensation for a construction site injury you are entitled to receive can also be affected by contributory negligence. The term “contributory negligence” relates to any action – or inaction – that you may have made which contributed to the cause of the accident or extent of your injuries. If you are not at all at fault for your accident and injury, you will receive 100 percent of your construction worker injury compensation. If you are found to be 25 percent at fault, you will get 75 percent of your compensation settlement but, should you be considered to be more than 50 percent liable for your accident or injuries, it may not be viable to pursue a construction worker accident claim.
You can be found partially or fully liable for your injuries due to your contributory negligence if:-
- You neglected to follow directions given to you by a person in authority with responsibility for your health and safety
- You neglected to use health and safety equipment provided for you to prevent the risk of a building site injury
- You neglected to report a faulty piece of equipment or machine whose subsequent failure was the cause of your injuries
- You neglected to visit a hospital or doctor immediately after you were injured, and there was an unjustifiable delay in an examination of your injuries
Depending on the job you were doing at the time of your construction site accident, there may be other examples of how contributory negligence can negatively influence a claim for construction worker injury compensation. If you feel that you may have played a part in the cause of the accident or the extent of your injuries by your contributory negligence, you should inform your solicitor when you first discuss the circumstances of your accident.
Offers of Construction Site Injury Compensation
A legal requirement for all construction site owners and employers is that they carry insurance in order that they may meet their financial obligations if they are responsible for an injury due to their negligence. Consequently, your solicitor will usually deal with the negligent party´s insurance company; allowing both you and your employer/site manager to maintain a distance from negotiations.
However, there are times when the insurance company may directly approach you with an unsolicited offer of construction site injury compensation which is offered in return for a quick settlement. These offers are usually compiled without a thorough assessment of your construction site injuries and it is possible that you could inadvertently accept a lesser amount of compensation for a construction site accident than you are entitled to.
Should short-term finances be a concern, your solicitor is able to apply to court for interim payments of construction worker injury compensation until such time as your construction worker injury claim is satisfactorily resolved. Consequently, these approaches are always best referred to a solicitor for, if you accept an inappropriate offer of construction site injury compensation, you cannot go back to the insurance company when the money runs out and ask for more.
Time Limits for Construction Site Accident Claims
In the UK, a claim for a construction worker injury has to be made within three years of the date you were diagnosed with an injury as a result of a building site accident. For most victims of a construction site injury this time limit starts from the date on which their accident occurred; but for those who sustain an injury due to the inhalation of toxic substances, their injury may not be become apparent until the symptoms of their illness manifests or an injury which was initially considered to be minor develops into something more serious.
Although three years seems like adequate time in which to make a claim for construction worker accident compensation, issues such as possible contributory negligence, the removal of evidence and a protracted HSE investigation can quickly use up the time available in which to compile and present a construction worker accident compensation claim. The potential for unexpected delays is another reason why you should not wait before contacting a solicitor.
No Win, No Fee Construction Worker Accident Claims
Many solicitors will offer “No Win, No Fee” construction worker accident claims under a conditional fee agreement. This means that should your solicitor fail to win your claim for a construction worker accident, you will not have to pay him or her for the time they have spent working on your case. However, “No Win, No Fee” construction worker accident claims do not always mean that that your claim will be free – irrespective of whether you win or lose.
In the event that you lose your claim for a construction worker accident, although you will not have to pay your solicitor´s fees, they might have incurred considerable costs in the preparation of your claim which are not covered by the conditional fee arrangement. You will also be liable for the defendant´s legal fees and, inasmuch as you might have legal expenses cover on an existing house or car insurance policy, your solicitor will suggest that you take out extra insurance by means of an “After the Event” insurance policy to protect you from financial exposure.
Should you win your construction worker accident injury claim, your solicitor is permitted to charge a success fee for having taken the chance of representing you without a guarantee of payment. Although this success fee is usually paid by the defendant, should the combined sum of your solicitor´s legal fees, costs and his or her success fee be considered to be disproportionate, you may be liable for paying some of the legal costs from your construction worker injury compensation settlement.
Furthermore, if you have been receiving state benefits since your accident, your solicitor will have to deduct these from your compensation settlement and pay back the Compensation Recovery Unit of the Department for Work and Pensions before sending you the balance. One other scenario in which you may receive less than 100 percent of your compensation for a construction worker accident is if you were made an offer of settlement which was higher than was awarded in court. In this scenario, you may be required to forgo the difference in the two amounts to contribute towards the defendant´s court costs.
Construction Worker Injury Compensation Conclusion
Construction worker injury compensation claims are often sensitive, can take a long time to resolve and should not be attempted without the guidance of an experienced personal injury solicitor. From the above information you will be able to see why no two claims for construction site injury compensation are identical and be aware of some of the pitfalls you may encounter.
Each compensation claim for a construction worker injury is compiled on its own merits and, inasmuch as this article may have provided you with relevant information – or answered some of the questions you may have had – it is no replacement for seeking independent professional legal advice from an experienced injury claims solicitor – preferably at the first possible opportunity.
All articles are written or edited by Eoin Campbell.