The Houston Guide to Construction Accidents

Houston construction accidents are more common than you might think. Construction is one of the largest industries in the United States, and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is also one of the most dangerous. In 2011, 781 people were killed in the construction industry, which is a higher fatality rate than any other industry in the U.S. Because of the type of work done in the construction industry, the occupational hazards and risks are often much higher than those faced in other industries. Have you been injured in a construction accident in Houston? Here’s a guide.

What is a construction accident?

A construction accident occurs when an employee who has been hired to perform construction site duties, such as building, repairing, demolishing, improving, cleaning, or generally constructing a specific facility, is hurt on the job. In these situations, the injury can be severe or even fatal.

The four most dangerous types of construction accidents, as reported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, are:

  • Falls — (33.5% of construction fatalities in 2018)
  • Workers struck by objects — (11.1%)
  • Electrocutions — (8.5%)
  • “Caught-in/between” accidents — 55 (5.5%

The “caught-in/between” category includes all accidents where a construction worker is killed when caught-in or compressed by equipment or objects; or when hit, caught, or crushed in a collapsing structure, equipment, or material.

Who pays my hospital bills due to a construction accident?

If you are a construction worker and are injured at work, your hospital bills may be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. Workers’ compensation is an employer-sponsored insurance program that offers specific benefits to injured employees. Filing a workers’ compensation claim for your injury is just like filing any other type of insurance claim. It is a request to receive benefits, not a type of lawsuit.

Unfortunately, not all employers offer workers’ compensation coverage, and in Texas, they are not required to do so. Even when your employer does carry workers’ compensation insurance, the limits can be too low to cover all of your expenses, or your claim could even be denied. In situations like these, you should consult a Houston construction accident lawyer to discuss other ways you can obtain reimbursement for your medical bills.

What if my insurance refuses to pay my medical claim?

When a health insurance company refuses to pay a medical claim, many people don’t know what to do. Dealing with increasing medical bills and an uncooperative insurer while also trying to recover from a construction accident can be a nightmare.

The truth of the matter is that, even though your health insurance company has a duty to pay your medical bills, they often don’t. They might refuse to pay expenses on the grounds that certain doctor visits or diagnostic tests were medically unnecessary, or only pay for part of your bill because they think your doctor overcharged you.

When your insurance claim is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. You can ask your insurance company to reconsider the decision internally or have it reviewed by an independent third party. However, if they still deny your claim, you should seek the help of a personal injury lawyer.

Can I sue to get money due to a construction accident?

If you’ve been injured on the job, you may be able to sue to get money due to a construction accident by filing a personal injury lawsuit against whoever is responsible for the accident. In Texas, you cannot sue your employer if they have workers’ compensation insurance unless specific exceptions apply.  

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or injured while at work. The OSH Act requires that employers ensure that working conditions are free of known dangers. These regulations apply to construction worksites, and while an OSH Act violation does not automatically prove that your employer was negligent, it can be used as evidence that your employer was to blame for your construction site accident.

Additionally, whether you collect workers’ compensation or not, you are also entitled to bring a lawsuit against anyone other than your employer at the job site who acted negligently and contributed to your injuries. The parties potentially responsible for your construction accident might include:

  • Property owners
  • Other construction workers
  • The manufacturers of machinery
  • Engineers
  • Architects
  • Contractors or subcontractors
  • City or government agencies

How long does it take to get money from a construction accident lawsuit?

Construction accident lawsuits are usually long and complex, meaning it can take quite a while to get your money. Since there are so many parties that could be involved in these types of cases, and most of those parties are corporations or other business entities, these kinds of cases can take years to resolve.

Typically, the insurance companies and employers have the upper hand because they can afford to wait. People who are injured in construction accidents are physically, and often financially, hurting because of their accidents. For this reason, defendants will try to stretch the case out for as long as possible in hopes of the injured party accepting a lower settlement offer out of desperation.

How much can I expect to get from a construction accident settlement?

Every case is different and your settlement amount will depend on a variety of factors, such as the severity of your injury, the type of accident that occurred, and the number of potentially negligent parties. However, people who sue a negligent third party for serious construction injuries can sometimes recover millions of dollars. Through a personal injury lawsuit, you can not only recover reimbursement for your medical care and lost wages, but you can also receive compensation for your pain and suffering, mental anguish, and the full impact the injury will have on your future.

One of the biggest contributing factors to the size of your construction accident settlement is whether you are represented by an experienced construction accident attorney. Insurance companies that handle construction accident claims are known for manipulating people who do not have attorneys, and they will try to get you to accept a small amount of money instead of making a full and fair settlement offer.

When should I contact a construction accident attorney?

If you have been injured in a construction accident, you should contact a construction accident attorney as soon as possible. You should make sure to select an attorney who has experience in construction accident cases, as many of the issues in these types of cases require specialized knowledge.

If a representative from your employer or an insurance adjuster approaches you with a settlement offer, you should never accept it before talking to an attorney. This early offer is likely much lower than the amount of reimbursement you are owed. An experienced construction accident attorney will be able to evaluate your case and help you determine the full amount of compensation you can receive.

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