A man walks along a dangerous construction site in Salt Lake City.

New construction projects are popping up everywhere in Utah. One report based on Census Bureau data found that Utah leads the country in new home construction with 11.7 builds per 1,000 residents – that’s about twice the national average of 5.23 new builds per capita. The surge in new home building is partly related to the overall population growth in the state and the fact that, for many people, real estate prices have made it cheaper to build a new home than buy one.

As a result, people who work in construction are in high demand. But an injury on the job could put you out of work for an extended period of time. Roofing and construction jobs remain some of the most dangerous jobs in the country, and even a minor injury can make it impossible to do a highly physical job like construction work. If you’ve been hurt on a construction site, you may assume that Workers’ Compensation will take care of your bills, but many people find they have to fight the system to get the coverage they deserve. In some cases, they may be denied entirely.

Should You Contact a Salt Lake City Construction Site Accident Attorney For Help?

Yes. A construction site accident lawyer can help you in several ways:

  • We’ll review your Worker’s Compensation claim and ensure everything is in order to give you the best chance of quick approval. Many claims are denied because of minor errors or omissions on the paperwork or because they’re submitted past the deadline, and we can help you avoid these pitfalls.
  • If your claim is rejected, we’ll assist you with gathering additional evidence and appealing the rejection.
  • We will evaluate the details of your accident to determine if you have grounds for a third-party claim. While Worker’s Compensation laws prevent injured workers from suing their employers in most situations, it may be possible to sue a third party if their negligence caused your accident. For example, if you were injured by a defective piece of equipment on the job site, you may have a claim against the equipment manufacturer for damages not covered by Worker’s Compensation.

What Should You Do to Protect Your Rights After a Workplace Injury?

First, it’s important to report your injury to your supervisor or your company’s HR department as soon as possible after the accident. Utah law requires you to report the accident within 180 days, but most people do so within a few days of the accident. If you wait to report it, the company’s insurance carrier may claim that your injury either wasn’t real or wasn’t serious because you didn’t report it right away.

Another crucial thing to remember is that you should report your injury in a way you can prove later in case your employer claims you didn’t tell them. The best solution is to send an email from a personal account – not one assigned to you and controlled by your employer – so that you will always have access to it in your Sent folder. You can also send a text message from a personal phone.

You should seek medical care for your injuries promptly, even if they seem minor. Some people think they’re all right after an accident but wake up in excruciating pain the next day. 

Your employer has the right to direct you to a preferred provider. Ask someone from the HR office if there is a preferred healthcare provider for Worker’s Compensation. If not, you are free to see any doctor who accepts Worker’s Compensation insurance. Remember that you should still report the accident in writing even if you told the HR person about it when seeking the provider’s information. If your situation is an emergency and it simply isn’t feasible to call and make an appointment with a preferred provider, you can go to the emergency room. However, you should speak with HR about seeing a preferred provider for follow-up care. Always inform any provider you see that your injury happened at work so they can fill out the appropriate paperwork.

After receiving your report about the injury, your employer is required to file certain forms with their insurance carrier or the Industrial Accidents Division if the employer is self-insured. The insurance carrier will then open a claim, and an adjuster will decide if the injury is “compensable” or eligible for Worker’s Compensation.

Why Are Worker’s Compensation Claims Rejected?

Aside from late or incomplete paperwork, there are a number of reasons the insurance company may reject your claim. Here are some of the more common reasons:

  • The insurance company doesn’t believe you were really injured. Again, the best way to avoid these situations is to report the injury right away and seek prompt medical care. However, sometimes even when you do everything correctly, the insurance adjuster will still be suspicious of your claim – especially with soft tissue injuries or other injuries that are diagnosed mostly based on the patient’s symptoms. Your attorney can help you appeal the rejection by examining your medical records and consulting with experts.
  • The insurance company agrees that you were injured but doesn’t believe the injury occurred at work. Sometimes this happens if there are no witnesses to your accident or if you have a repetitive motion injury such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from years of using a jackhammer. Your personal injury lawyer in Salt Lake City will try to help you locate evidence to show that your injuries happened or were caused by your work.
  • There are also situations where the employer says that the injury happened while the employee was off the clock, such as when they were taking a lunch break. However, if you were asked to perform work tasks during this time, your company may have opened itself up to multiple problems, including a potential wage theft claim. Your lawyer will ask about the circumstances of your injury and what you were doing on your lunch break or otherwise off the clock.
  • The insurance company thinks your injuries were intentional. Worker’s Compensation is a no-fault system, so the insurance company can’t reject your claim merely because the accident was your fault. However, they can reject a claim if they believe your injuries were intentional or resulted from horseplay or extremely reckless behavior. They can also reject the claim if they have evidence you were intoxicated at work when the accident happened. If the insurance company rejects your claim for one of these reasons, speak to a construction site accident lawyer right away so they can seek out evidence to refute these claims.
  • Your injury is similar or related to a preexisting injury or condition, so the insurance company thinks your symptoms are all from the preexisting issue. These cases can be complicated because it is possible to have a bad back and still have an injury at work that worsens your back condition. Your lawyer will go over your medical records and speak with experts, and they may also compile evidence of the injury itself to further support your claim.

Often, the insurance company arrives at these conclusions because your employer refutes your claim in some way. Employers don’t want their insurance rates to go up and may refute many Worker’s Comp claims for this reason. However, sometimes the insurance company rejects claims out of hand, as they also want to save money by not paying your claim. You can’t assume either party is on your side, but your attorney will be.

Who Qualifies for Worker’s Compensation in Utah?

Most employees qualify for Worker’s Compensation, with a few exceptions, including some agricultural workers, some casual or domestic workers, and some real estate and insurance brokers. These situations only occasionally apply to construction site workers, so if you’ve been told you don’t qualify, please check with an attorney.

However, it’s important to understand that Worker’s Compensation is only for employees, not contractors. If you filled out a W2, you are considered an employee. When one company subcontracts work to another, the subcontracted company’s employees are covered by their Worker’s Compensation insurance. However, if you are a contractor rather than a W2 employee, you are not eligible for Worker’s Compensation.

In this situation, it’s essential that you consult a construction site accident lawyer to learn your options. If you are truly a contractor, you may be able to seek compensation if your injuries resulted from another party’s negligence. But first, we will ask you some questions to be sure you really are a contractor. Sometimes companies classify workers as contractors incorrectly because it saves them money on benefits like health insurance or retirement fund matching. Suppose the worker is doing the job of an employee rather than a contractor, and we discover this after they are injured. In that case, they are not only entitled to Worker’s Compensation but also back benefits of being an employee.

Contact Our Salt Lake City Construction Site Accident Law Firm

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury on a construction site, please contact the Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers at 801-810-9999 for a free consultation. We’ll review your claim and advise you on any potential difficulties. We can also assist you in gathering evidence to support your claim or help you fight a claim rejection. 

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We have helped many clients recover from injuries resulting from car accidents in West Valley, Salt Lake City, and the greater Utah area. We are here to help you recover after an accident. If you've been injured, don't hesitate to call Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. We have recovered millions for our clients and we are ready to fight for you.

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