Fighting for those who have been seriously injured on the job.
Over 179,000 people work in Michigan’s construction industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But serious injuries can result if you or a loved one suffers from a construction accident. Of all the deaths in workplaces across the U.S., one in five occur in the construction industry, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Overall, the construction industry is one of the most dangerous workplace sectors.
The lawyers at Gruel Mills have decades of experience in obtaining justice for victims of construction accidents in Grand Rapids and their families. Construction accident law is complicated. A great deal depends on who or what caused the accident. Don’t try to go it alone if you or a family member suffers construction accident injuries. If you do, you may receive far less compensation than you deserve.
Our results at Gruel Mills speak for themselves. Our injured clients have received settlements ranging from $750,000 for a fractured leg to $1.4 million for more serious injuries. Grieving families have received as much as $1.9 million for a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one. The first consultation at Gruel Mills is always free.
Compensation in Grand Rapids Construction Accidents
When many people hear about a construction accident, they may assume that workers’ compensation pays all compensation to the victim. After all, it’s a workplace accident, right? But that may not always hold true, especially if you were not an employee of a construction company. It also may not hold true if your injury stemmed from the negligent actions of a third party, in whole or part.
You must understand negligence when discussing construction accident injuries. Negligence means that some entity (whether a person or a company) had a duty of ordinary care to you and breached that duty of care.
Negligence does not factor into workers’ compensation claims, where only you or your employer contributed to your injuries. In those cases, you simply apply for workers’ compensation insurance. That’s harder than it seems you will want a lawyer to do that for you.
On construction sites, however, other employers need to ensure a reasonably safe workplace. That’s the duty of care. They must enforce all safety regulations and precautions, including wearing safety equipment such as hard hats. Ignoring regulations and common precautions breaches the duty of care.
If a negligent third party injures you, they must pay for those injuries including the non-economic damages that workers’ compensation doesn’t pay. You can seek this compensation with our help through an insurance company claim or civil court lawsuit.
People injured in a construction accident by a negligent third party can seek compensation for:
Medical bills – For emergency transport and treatment, doctor’s visits, hospitalization, surgery, diagnostic tests, prescription medication, physical therapy, transportation to and from medical treatment, retrofitting a home to accommodate injuries, home health care, and more.
Future medical bills – If physicians indicate you need future medical treatment, you can seek compensation for all the categories above.
Wages lost from work – From wages lost due to the accident, medical treatment, and recovery time.
The lifetime value of earnings – If your injuries mean you cannot work again.
Property damage – For personal property damaged in the accident.
Pain and suffering – For physical, emotional, and psychological pain and suffering.
In addition, you may receive compensation for retraining to a different job if your injuries prohibit you from working in a former occupation.
Common Construction Accidents
What construction accidents cause the most injuries and deaths? Unfortunately, four types of accidents occur often enough in the construction sector that they’re known as the Fatal Four.
The leading cause of construction site accidents, by far, is falls. Falls cause more than 35 percent of all construction injuries. Not only that, but 17 percent of all deaths in the workplace occur due to falls.
Electrocution is the second most common construction site accident. Unfinished electrical work is a given at some point in many construction zones. Sockets and open wiring in the completion process can pose extreme danger to workers and passersby. Electrical hazards cause more than 8 percent of construction site-related fatalities.
The third most common construction site accident is “struck by an object.” Struck-bys cause roughly 8 percent of construction site fatalities. A bunch of toppling bricks, a two-by-four, or a hammer can strike a worker. The heavier they are, and the higher the height they fall from, the more serious the injury.
A type of accident known in the industry as a “caught between” is the fourth most common of the Fatal Four. The accident involves a worker caught between at least two objects two pieces of heavy equipment, a moving truck and a wall, and between any two items on a construction site.
The Fatal Four cause roughly 60 percent of all construction worker deaths. But note that that leaves almost 40 percent stemming from other causes. Construction workers and other people on construction sites suffer injuries in many different ways. They work with heavy equipment, complex and heavy tools, and often at heights or on excavation sites. All of these potentially multiply the ways they can suffer injuries and the severity and extent of the injuries.
What Are the Most Common Injuries on Construction Sites?
People on construction sites can suffer almost every conceivable type of injury. Some, such as broken bones or cuts, may cause pain but ultimately heal, with any short-term limitation resolved. But others, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injuries, can result in the injured person needing lifelong care and losing mobility or other functions.
These latter types of injuries often carry the adjective “catastrophic,” meaning they exert an immediate negative impact on the injured person’s life. They may lack the ability to perform the activities of daily living (ADL), such as bathing or dressing, or to work again.
Construction accidents may cause:
Traumatic brain injuries
Spinal cord injuries
Broken bones, including arms, legs, ribs, pelvis, and more
Amputation or loss of limb
Loss of or use of a limb
Dealing With Insurance Companies After a Construction Accident
Dealing with insurance companies after a construction accident can challenge injury victims and their families. The sad fact is that insurance companies often put their profits before a fair settlement.
What does that mean for you? It means that they may deny your claim. Or they may pay something, but far less than you deserve.
Another common ploy is to make themselves very hard to reach. You may leave e-mails, texts, phone messages, and even letters without contact back. Why? It’s not that they’re not getting your messages. They know that you might have your hands full with recovery after an accident. You may desperately need settlement money for bills and be under financial strain. But they’re hoping you’ll simply give up on your claim.
Some insurance companies may question whether the accident caused your injuries. If your injuries stem from another cause than the accident, the insurance company doesn’t have to settle.
Or, they may question the severity or effects of your injuries and minimize any settlement you receive.
Some companies may settle very quickly, but for an amount that doesn’t justly compensate you. That is known as a “low ball.” They are betting that your relief at receiving a check will translate into not questioning, or feeling dissatisfied with, the claim.
Lawyers have seen insurance companies pull all these tricks and more. As a result, lawyers are skilled at countering them. We can demand justice for you. Lawyers negotiate for the settlement you deserve, not the settlement insurance companies want to give you.
Achieving a Fair Settlement
If all else fails, a lawyer can bring a lawsuit in civil court to obtain just damage compensation for you. Insurance companies most commonly don’t want to go to trial. They run the risk of a jury awarding you an even higher amount, and insurance companies are risk-averse.
The court can impose punitive damages if the negligent party shows a history of unsafe workplaces or practices that violate laws or regulations. Punitive damages punish wrong-doers for a pattern of behavior or particularly egregious violations. Injury victims and their families can’t impose punitive damages, but courts can and do.
Evidence is the most important element in achieving a fair settlement, either from an insurer or the court system. You need evidence of who or what caused the accident or other incident that caused an injury. You also need evidence of your injuries and how they affected your life.
If you don’t have evidence or the evidence you possess is questioned by insurance companies or negligent parties, a lawyer can help you gather evidence to support your case.
Evidence can include:
Reports from the police, fire department, site inspectors, or other official bodies called in response to an accident or unsafe conditions
Accounts of site conditions from other people
Images or videos of the site
Images or videos of the accident
Medical reports: diagnosis, treatment plans
Accounts from emergency personnel, such as ambulance drivers
Images or videos of your injuries
Expert testimony on your prognosis, such as the ability to work again
While your first duty after a construction accident is to see to your health and safety, keep in mind the need for evidence. It’s a very prudent idea, for example, to take pictures of your injuries as soon as possible. Bruises can fade; a court needs to see the injuries the accident caused, not the healing skin.
It also helps to take notes immediately after the accident. What happened? What do you remember? What caused the event? What happened after that? While notes aren’t evidence, they can help you and your attorneys establish timelines and understand the event.
Talk to a construction accident lawyer as soon as possible after a construction accident, just because of the importance of evidence. Your memory may fade, as can eyewitness and colleague accounts. Any evidence gathering can proceed unchecked close to the date of the accident, but it may become more difficult as time goes by.
If you want to bring a suit to court, you must do so within three years of your injury or a loved one’s injury-related death. That’s the span of the Michigan statute of limitations. If you file a legal suit after that, the court will refuse to hear it. But again, just because the statute of limitations is three years does not mean you should wait three years.
What If My Loved One Dies in a Construction Accident?
If a construction accident causes a fatality, family members can receive compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. In Michigan, the deceased’s estate’s executor must file these suits on behalf of specific family members.
The family members include:
Surviving children of the spouse
Beneficiaries of property in the deceased’s will
Wrongful death suits are a type of personal injury suit in which the result was a fatality rather than an injury from which recovery was possible. They need the same proof of negligence and liability. But the compensation is wider; it includes medical bills for injuries that lead to death and compensates family members for losses.
Family members can seek compensation in the following categories.
Funeral and burial expenses
Hospital and medical expenses incurred before the death
The deceased’s pain and suffering
Loss of financial support the deceased person provided
Loss of the deceased’s care and companionship
Gruel Mills: Let a Grand Rapids Construction Accident Lawyer Fight for Justice
Construction accidents often cause serious and potentially fatal injuries. Obtaining just compensation may prove a challenge for injured people and their families.
But at Gruel Mills in Grand Rapids, we have decades of experience fighting for the rights of folks injured in construction accidents.
“Gruel Mills is made up of wonderful, honest attorneys who truly care about their clients. I have many friends who have worked with William Azkoul and Thomas Behm, and have been extremely pleased with the amount of care and professionalism they exhibited. Would highly recommend!” – Christina D.
Over the years, we have achieved significant results for our clients, including the following:
Construction site accident – wrongful death – $1.9 million
Construction site accident – serious personal injury – $1.2 million
Construction site accident – serious personal injury – $1.4 million;
Construction site accident – wrongful death – $1.2 million
Construction site accident – fractured leg – $750,000
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