Frequently Asked Questions about Construction Site Accident Cases in Indiana
Below are the answers to common initial questions many clients have when they first contact Keller and Keller. We hope that the information below address many initial concerns you may have, but if you don't find the answers here, please contact us with questions specific to your case. The consultation is free and confidential.
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Can a lawsuit be filed for every construction site injury?
No.There are some construction site injuries for which no lawsuits can be filed. For instance, if the injured employee is the only person at fault for the injury, no suit can be filed.
Can a lawyer from Indiana represent me in a construction site personal injury claim in another state or country?
Clients often assume they must locate an attorney where the accident happened, or where the client resides. This is simply not true.
Due to the unique nature of construction work, your job might have required you to travel to many different site locations throughout the year, including jobs out of state and possibly out of the country. Thus, it's important to remember that the location of your accident does not place restrictions on whom you hire to represent you.
Is it expensive to file a lawsuit for a construction site injury?
Construction site injury litigation is very expensive. Typically costs range from $25,000 to $100,000.
How can I pay for a construction lawyer if I am injured and unable to work?
There are 3 basic fee arrangements between construction case clients and their attorneys:
Contingency Fee (also called "No Recovery/No Fee" contract.)
The Contingency Fee arrangement is the one most often used by injured persons unable to work. Under a contingency fee, the attorney is paid a specified percentage of the total amount of the settlement or judgment that is recovered in the lawsuit. If the lawsuit is lost or there is no money recovered, then the lawyer receives no fee. Contingency Fee arrangements must be in writing.
The lawyer is paid a specified amount for every hour he works on the case. These amounts are typically billed monthly and must be paid regardless of whether the case is won or lost.
3. Flat Fee
In this arrangement, the attorney and the client negotiate a single payment to the attorney at the
beginning of the lawsuit. This fee will cover all attorney fees throughout the lawsuit. This fee, like the hourly rate, must be paid regardless of whether the lawsuit is lost or won.
Our firm allows its construction site injury clients to select any one of these three
arrangements. Injured clients typically select the Contingency Fee arrangement.
What kind of compensation can I expect to receive for a construction site personal injury?
The damages payable to an injured construction worker will differ from state to state and country to country.
To help make this determination, the following are considered:
- the nature of the injury
- the extent of the injury
- whether the injury is permanent or temporary
- the pain and suffering that has occurred and that is likely to occur in the future
- loss of earnings or profits
- impairment of earning capacity in the future
- the mount of medical, hospital, and rehabilitation expenses
- the aggravation of a pre-existing injury or disease
- disfigurement or deformity
- fright, humiliation, or mental anguish
- loss of enjoyment of life
What can a family recover on behalf ofa loved one who died in a construction site accident?
In wrongful death claims, the damages are determined by the law in each state or country. Some jurisdictions will limit the recovery to the economic loss caused by the death. Others will allow additional damages for lost love and affection of the surviving spouse or dependent children, as well as for the conscious pain and suffering of the worker from the time of the accident until the death. Funeral and burial expenses are recoverable, as well as any medical or hospital expenses. Costs of administering the estate are usually recoverable as well.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit for a construction site personal injury?
It depends where the injury occurred.
Each state and country has different rules regarding the filing of lawsuits. The time limit is called the "Statute of Limitations". Most states have a two-year Statute of Limitations, which means the lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of injury. However, some states have only a one-year Statute of Limitations, and other states have a three year or even longer limit.
Many states also have a time period if you are going to sue a governmental agency. In highway construction, it is often the government which may be responsible for the injury. Many jurisdictions require that notice be given a certain period of time. That limit might be 30 days, 180 days, 270 days, or even two years. Failure to meet the appropriate time requirement may mean you cannot file a lawsuit for your injury.
Because of the time limits it is very important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after an injury. The attorney needs time to investigate the matter and file the lawsuit before the deadline.
What is comparative fault, and how does it affect my construction site injury case?
Most states have adopted some form of “Comparative Fault”. The jury reviews the conduct of all parties to the lawsuit to determine what proportion of fault each must bear for the injury.
The jury might believe the plaintiff (you) was partially at fault for causing his own injuries and assign him a percentage of the fault. For example, the jury may find you were 20% at fault and the defendant 80% at fault. You would receive a settlement of 80% of whatever the jury determines to be the total value of the damages. (In some jurisdictions, if the plaintiff is assigned more than 50% of fault, then there can be no recovery at all.)
For this reason, it is very important to know what the law is in the jurisdiction where the lawsuit is to be filed. Sometimes a lawsuit can be filed in one of several different places, and it’s crucial for the lawyer to be well-versed in construction site law in each of those places. That way, the lawsuit can be filed in the state which is most beneficial to the injured worker.
Can I sue my employer for an injury I received on the job?
Every state in the United States has a workers compensation law which provides that it is the only remedy against the employer for an injury on the job.
There are some exceptions to this workers’ compensation exclusivity rule if:
- a person is injured by someone other than a co-worker
- a person is intentionally injured
- a person is injured in activities outside the scope of normal employment duties
For a typical work-related injury, however, workers’ compensation is the only compensation which can be obtained from the injured worker’s employer.
If I receive workers' compensation benefits, can I still file a lawsuit for an injury received at a construction site?
While the employer cannot be sued because workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy against an employer, there are other individuals, such as contractors and subcontractors, at construction sites who may be liable to an injured worker.
- The General Contractor is typically responsible for safety on the job site. A General Contractor may be liable for any failure to comply with OSHA or the failure to take other safety precautions.
- If an injury is caused by another subcontractor, or by a defective product or tool, lawsuits may be filed against the General Contractor and subcontractors, of against the manufacturers of defective products and tools. This is true even if the injured worker has received workers’ compensation benefits.
Do I still have to pay back my workers' compensation benefits if I settle a lawsuit for a construction site injury?
A portion of the benefits must usually be repaid. Most state laws give the workers’ compensation insurance carrier the right to be repaid from any settlement in a lawsuit for a construction site injury. This right of the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to be repaid a portion of its benefits is called “subrogation”.
On the other hand, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier must usually pay its share of attorneys’ fees and expenses in the lawsuit.
The workers’ compensation lien can often be negotiated and reduced, so that the entire amount of the workers’ compensation benefit does not need to be repaid.
Can any type of attorney represent me in a construction site accident case?
Yes and no.
Technically, any person who is licensed to practice law can represent an injured construction worker.
However, you need to exercise extreme caution when choosing a lawyer for your case. Construction technology is intricate, so it is important to be represented by an attorney who has knowledge of construction methods and construction safety regulations. Your attorney must be versed in OSHA and ANSI and other safety regulations, and must be knowledgeable about standard construction documents.
It has happened often that an attorney with no experience in construction site accidents will decide to file a lawsuit on a client's behalf. This can prove disastrous, because, without the advantage of knowledgeable economic analysis of the case, the attorney may not realize that the costs of the lawsuit are going to exceed the amount that can be recovered for the client! Sometimes the best legal advice is not to file a lawsuit.
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