If you are in the construction industry, you probably know someone who has been hurt on the job. It can be dangerous work. Here are five tips to protect your rights after a work injury at a construction site:
1. Have an Iowa workers’ compensation attorney look into whether unsafe conditions led to your work injury.
After a workplace construction injury, you may have no idea if the workspace was designed improperly or unsafely by someone else. You may not know if the tools or safety equipment you received were unsafe or defective. You may not be aware of whether the safety procedures in your workplace were actually designed by an outside consultant. If any of these things are true, it’s possible you have additional claims beyond a simple Iowa workers’ compensation claim.
2. Have a knowledgeable Iowa work comp attorney investigate whether someone other than your employer made your worksite unsafe.
In Iowa, you cannot sue your employer for being negligent. This means even if they didn’t keep your work environment safe, you cannot sue them. With that being said, there are many different people involved in a construction project that may have played a role in your work injury, such as:
- Another sub
- The general contractor
- A company hired to keep the work safe
- The property owner
“Third Party” Claims and Your Iowa Work Injury
If another party engaged in negligent conduct that contributed to your injury, you may have a civil claim against them. Sometimes this is referred to as a “third party” claim. A thorough investigation should be done to determine if someone else on the worksite was at fault for your injury. This may include:
- A visit to the worksite
- Obtaining the OSHA report and citations (if OSHA was involved)
- Interviewing any potential witnesses.
If you have both a work injury and a personal injury claim, you should hire a law firm that is experienced in both types of claims. Most times, it makes sense for one Iowa law firm to handle both claims. This is true because the evidence needed to prove your injury will likely overlap in both claims, and we can reduce costs by gathering all of the evidence at once.
Additionally, if you recover money from the third party in the civil case, workers’ compensation is likely entitled to recoup some of what it has already paid out in workers’ compensation benefits. You don’t want to be left out in the cold with work comp getting paid back and you receiving very little. An Iowa law firm experienced in both personal injury and workers’ compensation claims can oftentimes negotiate a resolution to both claims that puts a fair amount of compensation in your pocket.
3. When in doubt, contact OSHA.
Employers are required to notify OSHA when an employee suffers a work-related in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye within 24 hours. A fatality must be reported within 8 hours.
OSHA investigators will likely perform their own independent evaluation before your work comp attorney is able to do so. If OSHA issues a report, your attorney can request it to serve as evidence in your claim.
4. Keep the clothes and any safety equipment you were wearing during your Iowa work injury.
In an Iowa workers’ compensation claim, the role you played in your injury does not matter. Iowa is a no-fault state, which means you can get workers’ compensation benefits even if you caused your injury.
On the personal injury side of things, you have to prove that a third party did something wrong. The clothes, shoes, and personal protective equipment you were wearing at the time of your injury may be important evidence of that wrongdoing.
5. Speak to an Iowa workman’s comp lawyer as soon as possible.
Evidence at the construction site tends to disappear. This is especially true if OSHA is not called in. An Iowa work comp attorney can send a “retention of evidence” letter to the involved parties, asking them to keep a list of relevant items. The letter explains the punishments the party may face in the future for failing to keep these items.
RSH Legal handles both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury on a construction site, we may be able to help. Please contact us today at 1-319-774-1534.