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Seattle Construction Injury Attorney
Construction is a rewarding profession, but it’s also one of the nation’s most dangerous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, certain jobs within the construction industry – namely, roofing, structural engineering and welding – are some of the most injury-prone professions (behind only commercial fishing and logging). Construction workers work with heavy machinery, up high on scaffolding, and deep within trenches. They also work year-round, which can lead to dehydration or heat stroke.
Why Choose Colburn Law?
- Our attorney, Greg Colburn, has years of experience representing injured Seattle residents in their injury claims. We are dedicated to securing maximum compensation on your behalf.
- Our firm understands that travel can be difficult after a recent injury. We will gladly meet you at your home, hospital room, or local coffee shop for your convenience.
- You will have direct communication with your attorney throughout your case. We will always be available to answer your questions and respond to your concerns
Types of Construction Accident Claims and Lawsuits
The emotional, physical, and financial consequences of a construction accident can be difficult to heal from alone. However, you can recover compensation related to these losses through an insurance claim or lawsuit.
- Workers’ compensation claims: If you are a construction worker and suffer an injury on the job, you can file a claim with the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). You do not need to prove fault or negligence, but you will need to prove that you were performing your work-related duties when the accident occurred.
- Personal injury lawsuits: If someone else’s negligence caused your construction accident, you could file a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party. For example, if you are working on a construction site and a contractor intentionally pushed you off a ladder, you could file a lawsuit against that contractor. Keep in mind that filing a workers’ compensation claim will prevent you from filing a lawsuit against your employer.
- Product liability lawsuits: If you suffer an injury due to defective machinery, vehicle parts, or another product on the construction site, you can file a lawsuit against the manufacturer, retailer, and distributor of that product. You will need to prove that the product’s defect caused your injury and that you were using the product as the manufacturer intended.
- Wrongful death lawsuits: If you lost a loved one in a construction accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on his or her behalf. However, you will need to prove that another party’s negligence caused your loved one’s accidents.
Your optimal pathway to compensation will depend on the circumstances surrounding your accident. For example, if your employer intentionally injured you, you may want to pursue a lawsuit instead of a workers’ compensation claim. The Seattle construction accident attorney at Colburn Law can evaluate your case and help you strategize your next steps.
Contact a Seattle Construction Accident Lawyer
Colburn Law has handled many construction accident claims in Seattle by workers who were negligently hurt my contractors. If you need help filing your industrial insurance claim, or believe you have legal grounds for a third-party civil action, contact us to schedule a free initial consultation or click the image below.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets minimum standards for employers and requires them to provide a safe place to work. In spite of these standards, construction workers can – and do – incur injury on job sites every day.
If you’re a construction worker and you recently sustained an injury on a construction site, you have a few available options for legal recourse:
Filing a Claim With the Industrial Insurance Program
Washington’s workers’ compensation program is also called the industrial insurance program. This compensates workers for injuries by providing the funds to pay for medical bills and lost wages. If you sustained an injury on a job site, immediately inform your employer so they can begin the industrial insurance paperwork. They may tell you to use an approved in-network provider, but seek appropriate medical care and tell the provider you were injured at work.
The industrial insurance program is a no-fault system, which means you won’t have to prove your employer was responsible for your injuries. On the other hand, you are also limited in your ability to pursue additional civil action against your employer. In exchange for collecting benefits, you forfeit your right to pursue damages for pain and suffering.
Product Liability Concerns
In other situations, you may be able to collect compensation because a product malfunctioned or didn’t work as intended. Examples include a negligently manufactured safety harness or a malfunctioning welding tool.
Other Civil Actions
Unfortunately, an industrial insurance claim will only provide a portion of your lost wages, in addition to compensation for medical bills. Workers might find it difficult to stay afloat while receiving benefits, which is why many look for additional forms of legal recourse. In certain situations, injured construction workers may be able to file a civil lawsuit against a third party.
Anyone who works in the construction industry knows it’s an intricate system of moving parts – the contractor hires subcontractors, and those subcontractors work with their own third parties and vendors. If one of these third parties caused your injuries, you may have legal grounds for a personal injury claim. Here’s a list of some situations in which you would be able to pursue a third-party accident claim:
- A subcontractor failed to safely assemble scaffolding
- A truck driver failed to check their blind spot
- A subcontractor exposed the worksite to a toxic substance, like asbestos
- A work trench collapsed because a vendor negligently installed barriers
Types of Construction Injuries in Seattle
Construction accidents often result in serious injuries that require extensive medical care, weeks of recovery time, and long-term treatment such as rehabilitation or physical therapy. Some of the most common types of construction injuries include the following.
- Burn injuries: Open flames, explosive materials, corrosive chemicals, and live electrical wires can pose serious burn hazards to construction workers. Burn injuries from these sources can lead to permanent scarring, severe pain, and the loss of feeling in the affected area due to nerve damage. Recovery from burn injuries can be lengthy and expensive.
- Construction site motor operation: Many construction sites rely on motorized vehicles, such as dump trucks, bulldozers, and front loaders. However, collisions can occur between these vehicles and workers on the ground, resulting in severe injuries like broken bones, internal organ damage, and crushed or amputated limbs.
- Crane injuries: A crane is a type of machine that is used to lift and lower materials on construction sites. Crane operators need to receive specialized training to use these machines safely. However, accidents can occur where materials are dropped on workers on the ground, leading to painful crushing injuries. A crane may also collapse, causing operators to fall and sustain serious damage.
- Heavy equipment injuries: Defects, malfunctions, and other types of accidents involving heavy machinery can be devastating. Depending on the type of machine, construction workers can experience very severe injuries, such as amputated or crushed limbs, internal organ damage, lacerations, or spinal cord damage.
- Back injuries: Construction workers are often at risk of back injuries due to the nature of their jobs. A worker may strain his or her back while carrying heavy materials, operating machines, or performing repetitive motions. In very severe cases, construction workers may sustain spinal cord damage after falling from a high location or becoming crushed by heavy machinery or debris. Spinal cord damage often results in permanent paralysis below the injury site.
- Trench wall collapses: Construction workers may need to build trench walls for excavations and other types of below-ground work. However, these dirt structures can collapse without proper supports or construction, trapping workers inside. Trench wall collapses often result in fatal injuries.
- Explosions: Explosive materials and demolition projects can put construction workers at risk of severe injury. Explosions can cause burn injuries, amputated limbs, crushing injuries, and traumatic brain damage. A construction worker may also sustain lacerations and other serious damage from flying shrapnel and debris during the explosion.
Construction Workers Can Suffer from Life-Altering Injuries
Construction sites can pose serious risks to workers, contractors, and even passerby, especially if proper safety protocols are ignored. In fact, construction workers often suffer catastrophic and fatal injuries at a higher rate than workers in other professions. These injuries can result in lifelong complications, requiring long-term medical care and permanently impacting the construction worker’s quality of life.
Common life-altering injuries include the following.
- Permanent shoulder, knee, and ankle injuries
- Permanent back problems
- Cancer due to toxic substance exposure
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Permanent respiratory complications
- Traumatic brain damage
- Broken bones and fractures
- Burn injuries and permanent scarring
- Eye injuries that lead to blindness
- Loss of hearing
Through a workers’ compensation claim or lawsuit, however, victims of these accidents can recover damages or benefits to pay for these long-term costs. If you are suffering from permanent injuries due to a construction accident, speak to an attorney at Colburn Law to learn more about your legal options.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages for Construction Accident Injuries
There are two types of damages that you can collect through a Washington construction accident lawsuit: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to your tangible, financial losses. On the other hand, non-economic damages involve the physical and emotional pain and suffering that you endured due to the accident.
Some of the most common types of damages in construction accident lawsuits include the following.
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages and loss of future earnings
- Property damage that you sustained in the accident
- Rehabilitation, physical therapy, and other specialized treatment
- Mobility equipment, live-in care, and other disability accommodations
- Chronic pain
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Permanent disability
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Depression and anxiety
- Loss of quality of life
If you are filing a workers’ compensation claim, you can recover benefits for your medical care. You can also recover compensation for vocational rehabilitation services to help you find a new job, if necessary. You may also recover disability benefits depending on the nature and the extent of your injuries.
- Temporary partial disability: If you are able to return to work but cannot perform the same duties as you did prior to your injuries, you can receive benefits equal to 80% of the difference between your post-injury wages and your pre-injury earnings.
- Temporary total disability: If you are unable to work at all after your accident, you can recover benefits equal to 60% to 75% of your average monthly gross income. L&I establishes a maximum monthly payment for temporary total disability that usually changes each calendar year.
- Permanent partial disability: If you sustain permanent limitations due to your injury, you can receive a partial permanent disability award. L&I publishes an annual schedule that assigns award amounts based on the level and type of injury you sustained.
- Permanent total disability: If you sustain certain injuries, you may qualify for permanent total disability payments based on the amount of compensation you would receive for a temporary total disability. Qualifying injuries include the complete loss of use of the legs or arms, paralysis, or a total loss of eyesight.
Washington Accident Protection Guidelines for Construction Workers
If you are a construction worker in Washington state, your employer has a duty to ensure that your workplace meets all applicable safety requirements set by local, state, and federal authorities. The Washington Administrative Code and the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA) are the state regulations that construction employers must follow to prevent accidents and keep employees safe.
Examples of safety requirements for construction sites include the following.
- Using proper markings to warn workers about unsafe conditions and hazards
- Placing proper coverings on holes on the job site
- Using proper railings on elevated work areas
- Using proper shoring methods for trenches
Contact a Seattle Construction Accident Lawyer
If you are injured in a Seattle construction accident, Colburn Law can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and strategize your first steps toward compensation.