Construction is one of the most dangerous career paths in New York, so the state has taken steps and enacted natural laws to help keep these workers safe. Despite regulatory efforts, construction workers still get hurt and die every year in New York.
Learning a bit about some of the common misconceptions about construction worker injuries will put you in a better position to advocate for yourself if you get hurt on the job.
Construction workers can’t get workers’ compensation insurance
Your ability to qualify for workers’ compensation depends primarily on how your employer classifies you. If you are an employee, they typically have to cover you. If they list you as an independent contractor, they may not provide you with coverage.
Some companies intentionally misclassify employees as contractors to avoid obligations to them. Misclassified workers can go to court and ask for the benefits that they deserve.
Workers who get workers’ compensation can’t take legal action
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance program, meaning you don’t have to demonstrate wrongdoing by your employer or prove that you weren’t at fault to get benefits. If you file for and receive workers’ compensation, those benefits will typically help you cover your lost wages and medical costs.
However, you don’t lose your other legal rights when you claim workers’ compensation. If your employer broke the law or was otherwise negligent in their management of the work site or their training of staff, you could potentially take legal action against them. You could also have grounds for a third-party lawsuit if your injury was caused by a car crash or a defective tool.
Injuries are either fatal or have no real consequences
This last myth about construction worker injuries is perhaps the most insidious. People tend to assume that injuries will be catastrophic and fatal or minor enough to not disrupt someone’s work.
Many construction workers suffer injuries that fall between these two extremes. They may need to take weeks off of work to heal or may even find that while they can go back to work, they can no longer work in a skilled trade.
Evaluating the circumstances that led to your injury and the impact of your injury on your future earning potential will give you a better idea about what steps you need to take after you get hurt while working in construction.