When a construction worker is injured on the job because of someone else’s negligence they are often left with an incredible amount of medical bills and other negative consequences of their accident. However, this does not mean that an injured construction worker should have to bear all the expenses that stem from their injury. Personal injury laws have been designed as a means for the injured party to recover for their damages. While some damages are very easy to calculate, how do you put a value on your future expenses from a construction accident?
Your future expenses include more than just the cost of your medical treatment. If you are permanently disabled, you might require modifications to your home, home healthcare, or additional help with childcare and other ordinary tasks. Additionally, if you are unable to return to work in the same capacity or at all, you will be losing a significant amount of income. Disability benefits are not the same as your wages. Furthermore, they certainly do not factor in increases in salary, promotions, bonuses, or other financial benefits you would have reasonably expected to receive.
If you have been injured on a construction site as a result of someone else’s negligence, then you may not be sure how to proceed, or who you should turn to. However, you are not alone. Our experienced Fayetteville construction accident attorneys are dedicated to working with you and providing you will aggressive representation. To schedule an appointment to discuss your claim, call (479) 316-0438.
COMMON REASONS FOR CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENTS
It is not a secret that working on a construction site and within the construction industry is dangerous. In fact, the construction industry has been repeatedly noted as one of the most dangerous professions to work in. In 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration documented that there were 4,821 workers who lost their lives while working on a job site. However, it is alarming to note that nearly 20.5 percent of those workers were construction workers who worked in the construction industry.
In addition to this depressing statistic that more construction workers are killed in construction accidents every year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has calculated that the rate of injury for construction workers is around 3.6 per every 100 full-time worker. Some of the most common reasons for construction accidents include:
- Falls– Falls from any height or scaffolding is the number one reason for a construction site injury. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics falls from any height or from scaffolding account for nearly 34 percent of injuries and construction site deaths.
- Struck by falling objects– Being hit with an object while working on a construction site is another major source of injuries and death in the construction industry. Construction sites are filled with large heavy machinery and tools, which is partially why there are so many injuries from falling objects.
- Electric shocks and electrocutions– Construction usually entails some interaction with electrical work. Electricity and wiring should be handled with extreme care, as electrocutions accounted for nearly 8.6 of all construction site deaths.
- Caught in between objects– As noted above, one of the dangers or working on a construction site are the large machines that need to be used. In addition to tractors, cranes, and other trucks, construction sites are also filled with material for building and fixing. Constructions workers who are caught in between objects on the construction site account for a small percentage of deaths with only 2.5 percent being contributed to workers being crushed. However, workers who survive being caught between objects will likely sustain serious injuries.
These common reasons for construction site injuries and death have earned themselves the nickname in the construction industry as the “Fatal Four.” However, despite their name, there are many other reasons why a construction worker may be injured on a construction site. All of these conditions pose an imminent danger to construction workers who often find themselves injured and with no one to turn to. Ken Kieklak, an experienced Fort Smith construction accident attorney is devoted to those who have been injured because of someone’s carelessness, recklessness, or negligence.
CALCULATING DAMAGES IN A CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT
Most construction workers and their employers are very much aware of the dangers on the construction site. However, despite their overwhelming knowledge and the depth of regulations for safety set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, accidents and injuries happen on construction sites. Sadly, accidents and injuries happen almost every day on construction sites all across the country.
After an accident on a construction site, or in any industry for that matter, there are certain expenses that are very easy to calculate. It can be a matter of simple math to add up all the medical bills you have incurred following an accident. In addition, if you are unable to work, you can calculate how much money you are losing each week because of your accident. The same goes for any property of yours that may have been damaged in a construction accident. All of these expenses and bills can be put together and added together to reach your past injuries. However, under Arkansas law, you may be entitled to other damages and receive other compensation other than just the past expenses.
While any accident or injury poses the potential for severe harm, the construction industry bears an increased risk of such injury. More construction workers suffer severe injuries that require them to leave the construction industry than almost any other line of work. While it may be clear to the court and to you how much it would cost to place you financially in the same position you were in before you broke your leg or arm for example, what is not always clear is what the impact of your accident will have on your future. There are certain recoverable expenses that are in a somewhat gray area, however, they are available as a means of compensation, and as a means of providing for an injured worker in the future. Some of these future type expenses include
- Pain and suffering– In some cases when the injury is so severe the pain and suffering that a person will endure will extend well beyond the court case. In these instances, the court may award an injured construction worker pain and suffering damages.
- Emotional distress– When an injury stems from outrageous conduct workers will often suffer from emotional distress. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a well-documented and serious condition that can cause severe emotional distress. While not every construction worker who is injured will suffer from emotional distress and/or PTSD, when there has been an accident from extreme conduct the chances that a worker will suffer emotionally in the future are increased.
- Loss of enjoyment of life– Because of the likelihood that a construction worker will not only suffer an injury while working but because their injuries tend to be more severe and debilitating, it is common for construction workers to suffer from a decreased enjoyment from regular activities.
- Loss of consortium– This is a claim by the spouse or partner of a construction worker. In the event that a construction worker is injured and can longer provide the companionship and partnership, then a spouse or partner may be able to recover.
However, it is not always clear how to put a dollar amount on these types of injuries and damages. However, when you are in an accident on a construction site, these type of damages and compensation are available to you. Unfortunately, there is no easy and clear set way or proving these type of injuries and damages. They require working closely with a skilled personal injury attorney who can help you gather the evidence and proof you need to support your claims.
Lost Income and Future Earning Capacity After a Construction Accident
When pursuing an injury claim after a construction accident, it is important to understand the difference between lost income and future earning capacity. Not all construction accident victims are eligible for both types of damages claims.
If you only suffered a temporary disruption in your ability to work, you might be able to recover compensation for the wages you lost until you began working again. For instance, your injury might allow you to return to work for a few days a week or in a limited capacity. Under these circumstances, you could recover the difference between what you have earned and what you would have earned if you had not been injured.
However, some construction accidents result in injuries that are serious enough to limit your ability to work for the foreseeable future. In some cases, you might not be able to return to work at all. If this is the case, you could pursue compensation for the loss of future earning capacity. Think of this as a loss of your likely career path if you were not injured. You should be compensated for the wages you would have reasonably been expected to earn, including likely promotions and bonuses. Recovering for loss of future earning capacity requires an experienced attorney such as our team of Rogers construction accident lawyers.
How is Loss of Earning Capacity Defined in a Construction Accident Lawsuit?
As stated above, loss of earning capacity is the reasonable income you are expected to lose because of your injury. One way to think of loss of earning capacity is as your “future wages.” For example, if you were permanently disabled in a construction accident, you will not be able to return to your job. A loss of earning capacity claim would include all the income you would have expected to earn through your construction career, including reasonable pay increases, promotions, bonuses, and other benefits that you would have anticipated to receive.
Proving Loss of Earning Capacity After a Construction Accident
While it might seem challenging or impossible, it is possible to prove loss of earning capacity by using competent evidence. You can prove lost income by showing what you earned before the injury and what you earned afterward. By providing pay stubs or tax returns, it is usually not difficult to prove what income you lost because of your construction injury. However, loss of earning capacity presents very distinct challenges.
Because earning capacity is based on what you were reasonably expected to earn, there is no past evidence to turn to. However, our Arkansas construction accident lawyers will want to establish what you would have earned if you maximized your earning potential. For instance, a heart surgeon would have likely lost millions of dollars of income over their life if their career was cut short early because of a traumatic brain injury.
The first thing our office will do is gather evidence that relates to the severity and permanence of your injury. Whether attempting to negotiate an insurance settlement or arguing your claim before a jury, we want to demonstrate the impact your injury has on your future earning capabilities. If your injury is serious enough to prevent you from returning to work for the rest of your life, the medical evidence must corroborate that fact. The value of your future lost earnings claim is directly related to the severity of your injuries.
Your future earning capacity is also related to your age, education, occupation, experience, and skills. Additionally, your personal habits could factor into understanding what you could have reasonably been expected to have earned over the course of your lifetime. For example, if you were a basic laborer and had been for the last twenty years, your anticipated career path might have been stagnant. However, if you were trained in several skills or were currently training at the time of the injury, it would impact how your construction career might have progressed. If you were engaged in course work or had specific certificates of expertise, our law office would present such documentation as evidence of your reasonable potential.
Personal injury compensation is not awarded on mere speculation. For a jury to render a finding or damages amount, it must be supported by evidence. A court could strike an award that is based on speculation.
Proving loss of earning capacity is complicated. Unlike lost income, there are no pay stubs to turn to. Nonetheless, there is evidence available to prove what you would have made. Vocational experts are often employed to offer their expert opinion on how your career was likely to have progressed given your age, experience, and work history. Your employer or supervisor could testify to your work ethic and the likelihood of promotions within the company in the future. A financial expert would offer an expert opinion on the increase in wages and value of the dollar over the next few decades. Additionally, there are industry standards regarding how a career in the construction business is reasonably expected to progress. Our Springdale construction accident lawyers will use all available resources to help establish what you would have earned had you not been injured.
INJURED ON A CONSTRUCTION SITE? CONTACT AN ARKANSAS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAWYER
If you have suffered a serious injury or if you have lost a loved one due to the recklessness or carelessness of another, our Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyers can fight for you. For more than 20 years, our lawyers have stood up for hard-working people who have been injured through no fault of their own. To schedule your free and confidential personal injury consultation, call GKD Law at (479) 316-0438.
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