What Happens When an Employee is Injured on a Construction Site?

Charleston Construction Site Injury Lawyer

Construction is one of the most dangerous jobs. Many construction workers suffer injuries, and sometimes the injuries are fatal. Whether a worker falls from a roof or is operating a heavy piece of machinery that overturns, they should be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits from their employer.

Statistics for Work-Related Injuries

Private employers reported approximately 2.8 million non-fatal work injuries and illnesses in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those injuries, 882,730, nearly one-third, resulted in days away from work. In the construction industry, there were approximately 198,100 non-fatal work injuries and around 115,500 injuries resulting in days away from work. In 2017, 5,147 workers suffered fatal injuries in the United States. Out of 4,674 work fatalities in the private sector, just over 20 percent (971) were in the construction industry.

Causes of Injuries to Construction Workers

Four causes accounted for 60 percent of construction workers’ deaths in 2017: falls (386), struck by an object (80), electrocutions (71) and caught in or between objects (50). Many other causes, while not as deadly, can result in injuries at construction sites. These include but are not limited to:

  • Hand tools, such as saws and drills
  • Moving vehicles or equipment
  • Fires or explosions
  • Trench or building collapses
  • Repetitive motions
  • Exposure to the elements, hot or cold
  • Exposure to toxins or chemicals.

Types of Injuries Suffered by Construction Workers

Construction workers can suffer many types of injuries. Some of the most common injuries include:

Compensation for a Worker Injured at a Construction Site

What are the general rules for receiving workers’ compensation in South Carolina if an employee is injured or killed on a construction site?

  • Coverage: To receive workers’ compensation, the construction worker must be an employee, not an independent contractor. In general, an employer with four or more employees must carry workers’ compensation.
  • Notice: An employee must give notice of an injury to their employer as soon as possible and no later than 90 days after the injury.
  • Medical Treatment: The employer must provide medical care for an injured employee. Except in the case of an emergency, the employer chooses the employee’s doctor.
  • Claim: If the employer disputes an employee’s claim, the employee has two years to file a claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
  • Fault: An injured employee does not have to prove their employer was at fault. Likewise, an employer cannot use an employee’s fault to deny coverage.
  • Start of Benefits: No compensation is paid to the injured worker for the first seven days. If the disability lasts for more than 14 days, payments will go back to the date of the injury.
  • Amount of Payments: An injured employee receives 66 and two-thirds of their average weekly wage, up to the state’s maximum, which increases each year. The maximum was $838.21 for injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2018.
  • Temporary Disability: Generally, the injured employee receives temporary disability benefits until they return to work or reach maximum medical improvement.
  • Permanent Partial Disability: South Carolina has a schedule of injuries that determines how long an employee receives benefits. For example, the total loss of an arm is worth 200 weeks, so an employee would receive 50 weeks for a 25 percent disability to an arm. For injuries to a part of the body not listed in the schedule, an injured employee gets benefits up to 500 weeks, depending upon the percentage of disability to the body as a whole.
  • Permanent Total Disability: If an employee is permanently and totally disabled, they can receive benefits up to 500 weeks. For catastrophic injuries, like paralysis or brain damage, the employee can get benefits for life.
  • Death Benefits: If an employee is killed on the job, the employee’s spouse and children may receive benefits.
  • Third Party Action: If a third party, such as the manufacturer of a piece of equipment, causes a construction accident, the employee may file a suit against the at-fault party. In the suit, the employee can recover all of their lost wages and earning capacity as well as compensation for pain and suffering.
  • Legal Help: Employees can protect their rights by contacting a workers’ compensation attorney. The workers’ compensation process can get complicated, making it beneficial to hire an attorney. The attorney will investigate whether a suit can be brought against a third party.

Contact Us

If you suffer an injury at work, call a workers’ compensation lawyer at Steinberg Law Firm 24/7 at 843-720-2800, make an appointment at www.steinberglawfirm.com or visit our offices in Charleston, Goose Creek or Summerville.

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Steinberg attorneys have been awarded numerous distinctions, such as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America by U.S. News & World Report, Gedney M. Howe, Jr. Award for Outstanding Public Service, the SC Leadership in Law award, and has been voted Best Workers’ Comp Firm in SC, among other distinctions.

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