Construction Accidents Attorney in Portland, Oregon
According to The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), construction worker fatalities accounted for 21.7 percent of all workforce fatalities in 2020. Construction sites are no doubt among America’s most fertile ground for workplace injuries and fatalities. Employees are required to work at heights, operate equipment that can cause serious injuries, and are subject to moving vehicles and falling objects that can wreak havoc.
If you or a loved one has been injured, or worse, lost a life, on a construction site in or around Portland, Oregon, contact me at Wallace Law Firm, P.C.
I will fight for your rights under Oregon’s laws and workers’ compensation system to obtain the just compensation you deserve. Don’t go it alone when the insurance companies and others will try to minimize your injuries or losses. Call me for a free consultation. I also proudly serve clients throughout the state of Oregon, including in Salem and Eugene.
Types of Construction Accidents
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in its list of Top Ten Safety Violations, annually shows that fall protection in the construction industry is the top violation. Workplace falls can result in multiple types of injuries, including neck, back, and bone problems, whether fractures, strains, or worse. Associated closely is the use of ladders, which also leads to accidents from falling, along with scaffolding.
Eye and face protection is among the top ten as well. The use of powered vehicles is right there too, as workers can be struck by vehicles. The use of machinery without proper guards and safety measures comes in at number ten.
Among the most common injuries at construction sites are burns, cuts and lacerations, eye wounds, fractured bones, head injuries, heat stroke, stress and strain, loss of hearing, and spinal cord problems.
The Role of Workers’ Compensation
Oregon requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which is a no-fault system to cover medical expenses and lost-time wages from accidents and illnesses that are work-related. Neither employer nor employee can be held liable unless something is intentional.
For instance, if a worker who is high at work or is involved in horseplay with another ends up getting injured, workers’ compensation may not cover that. Likewise, if an employer deliberately places someone in an injurious situation without proper safety measures, then the employer may be liable.
Those instances, however, are rare. For the most part, if you’re injured at work or fall ill because of exposure to a toxic substance or another source, then you must turn to the workers’ compensation system to be paid for your medical expenses and lost time at work. You must miss three days at work, however, before the system will compensate you for being unable to work. You will be paid roughly two-thirds of what is calculated to be your normal weekly wage.
When Can You Sue?
There are some instances in which a personal injury lawsuit may be justified. If you prevail in a personal injury lawsuit, your compensation will also cover your pain and suffering, which workers’ compensation will not. However, your workers’ compensation insurer can also have a claim against any settlement or jury award you receive if you also filed for and received workers’ compensation benefits.
Suing for injuries at work are called third-party claims because you must find someone besides your employer to be at fault for your injury. Since construction sites often are filled by workers for different subcontractors, one source of a personal injury claim can arise from an employee of another subcontractor who somehow injures you. For instance, an outside-of-your-firm employee might drop something that injures you or operate a vehicle that runs into you.
Third-party claims can also be filed against machinery and equipment manufacturers. If a machine you’re operating malfunctions and you’re injured, you likely will have a claim against the manufacturer or even the designer. If the manufacturer or supplier fails to provide proper or sufficient operating instructions and you’re injured from operating the machine, that too can be actionable.
What if You Lose a Loved One?
Oregon law requires that the workers’ compensation insurer, or the self-insured employer, pay the spouse of a worker killed on the job two-thirds of the deceased’s weekly wage until the spouse remarries. If the spouse remarries, she or he is then entitled to a lump-sum payment of 36 times the weekly wage at two-thirds.
If the death resulted from a third party as described above, then it gets more complicated to file a lawsuit. The law states that only the “personal representative” named in the deceased’s will can file a lawsuit. However, if there is no will, the court will appoint a personal representative, or executor, who is usually the spouse or close family member.
Partial Fault and Third-Party Lawsuits
If you do sue a third party for compensation for injuries or death, Oregon applies what is termed the principle of modified comparative negligence, or what is known in popular parlance as the “51 percent rule.” This means that juries in trials will be tasked with assigning a percentage of fault to both parties in the claim.
If, for instance, you are found to be 20 percent at fault for your injuries, your award will be reduced by 20 percent, say from $50,000 to $40,000. If your fault rises about 50 percent, you cannot receive anything.
Wallace Law Firm, P.C. Can Help
Navigating the workers’ compensation system is not a slam dunk. The insurance company’s claims adjusters will be looking for any reason to lower your compensation or even to deny it after it’s already begun. They have an arsenal of tactics and tricks they can use to do this. Don’t go it alone. Rely on experienced legal guidance to press your case for you. When it comes to a possible third-party lawsuit, an attorney is obviously your best ally.
Construction Accidents Attorney Serving Portland, Oregon
If you or a loved one has been injured in or around Portland, Oregon, contact me at Wallace Law Firm, P.C. Let me deal with the insurance adjusters and examine the circumstances of your injury for further legal action. If you’ve lost a loved one, I am here to provide you compassionate and aggressive representation to seek the just compensation you deserve.