The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that out of 4,379 worker fatalities in the year 2015, 21.4% (937) occurred in the construction industry. Construction is a highly dangerous industry in which workers have to operate heavy machinery, work from great heights, handle toxic chemicals, and work with electricity. Fatal and nonfatal construction injuries occur frequently, despite many safety programs and employer procedures in place to prevent them. If you suffered a serious injury in a construction accident in the Mountain State, here’s how to file a claim. You should also consider speaking with an experienced West Virginia construction accident lawyer who can help you understand your available legal options.
Report the Incident to Your Employer
The first thing you should do after a construction injury is report the accident to your employer. Failure to report your accident right away can result in difficulty obtaining compensation for your injuries in the future. A delayed report could lead to allegations of fraud, or an insurance company failing to recognize the extent of your injuries. Describe what happened in as much detail as possible, and report any injuries.
If you are unsure whether you sustained an injury, do not say you aren’t injured. If you discover an injury later, such as a brain injury or spinal cord injury with delayed symptoms, your initial report may hurt your chances of receiving compensation or insurance benefits. Your employer will report the accident to the appropriate West Virginia workers’ compensation office and give you the paperwork to file a workers’ compensation claim. Before you file, however, review your options.
Speak to an Attorney
Workers’ compensation programs are in place to protect workers in the event of any workplace injury. West Virginia’s workers’ comp laws grant injured employees compensation for medical bills, a fraction of lost wages, and some disability benefits after most injuries that occur during job-related duties. A worker does not have to go to court or prove employer negligence to obtain these benefits. While workers’ comp helps thousands of construction workers pay for their medical costs and recover from injuries, it is not the best solution in every case.
Speak to a personal injury attorney in West Virginia after a construction accident if you suspect the negligence of someone else contributed to your accident. For example, say you fell from a scaffold and broke several bones while on a construction site. If your employer failed to give you the proper safety equipment and/or training to work from a scaffold, the employer may be responsible for your damages due to negligence. In these cases, it may be in your best interest to file a personal injury claim instead of a workers’ compensation claim. An attorney will discuss the merits of your case and give you legal counsel on how to proceed.
Submit a Claim with Workers’ Comp or the Civil Courts
Depending on which route is best in your case, you will either submit a claim to the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner or a personal injury claim with the civil courts. You can submit a claim for workers’ compensation online, as your employer for the form, or call the office at (304) 558-2094 to request a form. You have six months to file your claim, but doing so as soon as possible can help you avoid a delay in your benefits.
If you believe filing a claim with the courts is the better decision in your scenario, partner with a construction accident attorney to help you file a claim. In West Virginia, you can choose your own physician for workers’ compensation purposes. Construction accident claims can involve many different state and local laws that an attorney can help you understand. You have two years from the date of your injury to file a personal injury claim in West Virginia. No matter how soon you file, remember to seek medical attention as quickly as possible after a construction accident.