Construction Workers

Construction work is dangerous and sites pose risks beyond other workplaces due to the dynamic nature of the work environment, including operation and movement of heavy equipment, uneven terrain, and exposure to the elements.  Despite the danger, construction workers are entitled to work in a place that is reasonably safe and protected from unnecessary risks.

Governmental entities, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), set workplace standards where employers are expected to comply. Construction standards include requirements for using safe equipment, using techniques to minimize risk of harm, providing appropriate personal protective equipment, and the like.

OSHA also provides training modules to teach how to avoid injury. Its Focus Four modules provide training on avoiding injury from falls, caught in or caught between accidents, struck by accidents, and electrocution. These training modules discuss recognizing and preventing injury from these common workplace hazards.

Workers have a right to file complaints about workplace hazards with OSHA and their employers are not permitted to retaliate against workers for filing such complaints. OSHA investigates complaints, performs random inspections, as well as investigates all workplace fatalities. Despite best efforts, workers can still get injured on the job.

Remedy for Injured Workers

If a construction worker gets injured on the job, they are eligible to receive certain benefits. Every state provides its own version of workers’ compensation.  This is a form of insurance that employers are required to carry and covers expenses related to workplace injuries. Workers’ compensation benefits provide compensation for lost wages and medical expenses. Additional benefits may also be available for vocational education. In addition, compensation for permanent disabilities caused by a workplace injury are usually covered. Death benefits may also be available for a deceased worker’s surviving family members.

Compensable Injuries

Virtually any workplace injury that is serious enough to cause missed work is covered by Workers’ Compensation. Common construction-related injuries and their causes include:

  • Broken bones from falls or impact with heavy equipment
  • Traumatic brain injuries from being struck in the head by falling objects
  • Burns from welding sparks, fires, explosions, or electrocutions
  • Eye injuries from welding or flying debris

Chronic exposure to certain hazards can result in injury, which can also be covered and include:

  • Heat stroke from working in the sun on hot days
  • Hand-arm vibration syndrome from operating jack hammers
  • Hearing loss from working around loud equipment
  • Repetitive motion injuries from performing the same tasks repeatedly
  • Back strain from lifting heavy objects

Workers’ compensation can also cover workplace illnesses that typically result from repeated chronic exposure, such as:

  • Respiratory disease from inhaling solvent, paint, and other construction-related substances
  • Hearing loss from exposure to loud noise
  • Other diseases, such as mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos
  • Nerve damage from exposure to lead or lead products

How to Obtain Workers’ Compensation Benefits

To qualify for workers’ compensation, you must have been injured from your work or became ill as a result of your work and you must report the injury to your employer. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance program. There is no need to prove that the employer was negligent to qualify. However, you are required to follow your state’s reporting and filing requirements.

States differ in how they administer their workers’ compensation programs.  There is a relatively short time frame for filing claims. You will likely be required to submit to a physical examination by a physician chosen by the program as opposed to your usual doctor.

How Much Compensation is Available?

Although states vary, the usual compensation for lost work is about 66 percent of the injured worker’s base salary. In addition, medical expenses will be paid to the point where maximum benefits are achieved. These programs generally use a formula to determine compensation when workplace injuries result in permanent disability and/or disfigurement.

What If My Employer Challenges the Claim?

Sometimes an employer will challenge the claim. For example, they may know you have a pre-existing heart condition and try to attribute a heart attack you reported as work-related to your lifestyle rather than your work. These disputes can jeopardize a valid case if not properly defended. It is important to have good advice when handling such challenges.

South Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP Represent Injured Workers and Their Families

If you or someone you know suffered a work injury, our experienced South Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP can help. We will review your case and obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us at 856-761-3773 or complete an online form for a free consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including the City of Camden.

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Coronavirus COVID-19 UPDATE:
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Coronavirus COVID-19 UPDATE:

Please be advised that in accordance with Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 107, which imposed strict limitations on the operations of "brick-and-mortar" businesses and required telecommuting to the greatest extent possible, all N.J. workers’ compensation courts will continue to be closed to the public and to non-essential court personnel until April 13, 2020.

In response to overwhelming requests from the Workers’ Compensation Bar to hold non-emergent matters electronically or by teleconference, as of April 6, 2020, the following Workers’ Compensation Judges shall be designated by the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the N.J. Division of Workers’ Compensation as essential personnel and shall report to their home vicinages for the purpose of hearing as many Workers’ Compensation matters as possible by telephonic conferencing, including all emergent matters and the following non-emergent matters, pre-trial conferences, general motions for medical and temporary benefits, and settlements by affidavit:

Hon. Audrey Kernan, S.J., Atlantic City WC Courthouse
Hon. Arthur Marchand, A.S.J., Bridgeton WC Courthouse
Hon. Ingrid French, A.S.J., Camden WC Courthouse
Hon. Lionel Simon III, A.S.J., Freehold WC Courthouse
Hon. Diana Ferriero, S.J., Hackensack WC Courthouse
Hon. Jill Fader, S.J., Jersey City WC Courthouse
Hon. Glenn Kaplan, S.J., Lebanon WC Courthouse
Hon. Michael Luther, S.J., Mt. Arlington WC Courthouse
Hon. George Geist, S.J., Mt. Holly WC Courthouse
Hon. Ashley Hutchinson, A.S.J., New Brunswick WC Courthouse
Hon. Philip Tornetta, A.S.J., Newark WC Courthouse
Hon. William Roca, S.J., Paterson WC Courthouse
Hon. Maria Del Valle Koch, S.J., Plainfield WC Courthouse
Hon. Eugene Mulvaney, S.J., Toms River WC Courthouse
Hon. David Puma, S.J., Trenton WC Courthouse

The Division’s plan is to limit physical interactions in our workers’ compensation courts to the greatest extent possible and shift to the use of telephone conferencing, and if possible video conferencing for judges, attorneys, and litigants. There will be no in-person Workers’ Compensation Court proceedings (except for extremely limited emergent matters and certain ongoing motions for medical and temporary benefits and trials in which case social distancing will be enforced). Court offices will remain closed for in-person submissions. Filings will continue to be accepted electronically through COURTS On-line.

The N.J. Division of Workers’ Compensation’s number one goal is to limit the exposure and spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus to court personnel, attorneys and their staff, litigants, witnesses, and members of the public at large.

Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP also continues to closely monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and its impact on our local community and the world at large. In accordance with Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 107, our office is closed and the members of the firm continue to work remotely. As such, the members of the firm may have limited access to information during this time. We continue to appreciate your understanding. We encourage our current clients, new clients, and fellow members of the bar to contact us via e-mail as that remains the best form of communication. All attorneys and paralegals have access to e-mail and case information. We have designated essential personnel to report to our office for the purpose of handling emergent matters only and to complete essential administrative tasks. Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP remains committed to complying with all health and governmental regulations. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those most affected by this situation.