How Much is My Construction Accident Case Worth?
If you have been hurt on the job, there are some things you need to be aware of when you evaluate the total worth of your case. Some of these things may seem very obvious, while others may not seem clear at all to you.
The major issues to understand are the interplay of insurance, Labor and Industries payment, whether it is a third party claim, whether you were hurt on the job or merely a bystander who was hurt, and the various categories of damages that you are eligible to receive. Given the explosive growth of Seattle, Kirkland and Bellevue in particular, there have unfortunately been a sharp increase in the number of people who have been either hurt or killed on job sites.Insurance and L&I Explained
When evaluating the total worth of your case, you need to understand the insurance issues surrounding your case. If you are a worker who was injured on the job, then Labor and Industries immediately applies. This means L&I will pay your medical bills, your time loss (which is a percentage of your paycheck), and you may be eligible for a settlement when you either 100% better or reach a point where you will not improve despite your efforts to get medical care.
If it can be shown that a company other than your employer caused your accident while you were on the job, then you can file what is called a third party claim against them. This means you effectively have two cases—a L&I case and a lawsuit against the company, which is normally a general contractor. At the end of your case, you may have to repay L&I a portion of your lawsuit.
The majority of cases are not third party because no one other than your employer or you, the worker, was the cause of the accident. There are other considerations to keep in mind as well. This would apply if, for example, you were just walking along as a pedestrian or a bystander and you got hurt at a construction site. This happens sometimes given the convergence of construction sites that are being worked on in heavily populated areas, such as downtown Seattle and Kirkland.
If you are hurt in this kind of scenario, there is no L&I available since you were not on the job. There is, however, a claim available against the insurance company for the company who harmed you. To be clear, you would sue the company, not the insurance company, but when it comes down to it, assuming you cannot settle your claim out of court, you will have sued, on paper, the construction company but you will be dealing with an insurance company since they’re the ones who hire a law firm to defend them.Third Party Explained
As previously mentioned, it is important to understand how third party can come into play in a construction case. What is a third party case? It is a case where someone was injured on the job, but where the at-fault party, such as a general contractor, was someone other than the employee’s employer.
The law is clear in Washington State that you cannot sue your employer. That is because in most cases the at-fault party is either the worker or the worker’s employer. It is rare when the worker is on another person’s property, such as a general contractor, and the general contractor retained sufficient control and supervision over the property where the accident occurred where they could be found liable for someone’s injuries.Categories of Damages
If you receive a settlement for your construction site case, or if you receive an award from a jury at trial, you will receive a lump sum amount in the form of a check. However, it is important to understand that your settlement amount, whatever amount that may end up being, will be made up for a few different categories of damages that need to be spelled out. They are:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Future lost wages
- Loss of consortium
- Out of pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
In these kinds of cases, it probably seems obvious to you that you should not have to pay
your own medical bills. Be aware, as has already been explained, that if you are a L&I beneficiary, a portion of your medical bills may have to be repaid to L&I if L&I paid your medical bills.
Future medical bills may be necessary if your injuries are so serious as to require ongoing future medical care, such as future surgeries. This means that a portion of your settlement must be set aside to adequately pay for these bills should they actually be incurred.
Lost wages can also be paid to you if you missed time at work because of your construction accident. It’s important to understand here that you need to be able to provide supporting documentation to show what this amount of money would have been. Documents like bank statements, tax returns, social security earnings history, and obviously pay statements from your employer are all very valuable.
Future lost wages can also be paid to you. This would be applicable if your injuries are so severe from a construction accident that you are unable to work going forward into the future and you are going to miss out on the wages you would normally receive because of it. Again, having an economist examine your previous wage earnings and then have the economist issue a report is very important to the overall strength of your case.
Loss of consortium is a category that is intended to compensate your spouse or legal partner for what they have lost out on as a result of your injuries at a construction site. This is their own loss and will be their own claim to bring. For instance, if the romantic aspect of your relationship suffered as a result of your accident, then that would be a ground for bringing a claim.
Out of pocket expenses are viewed legally as a bit of a catchall. This represents damages that are intended to compensate you for things like bandages, a wheelchair, a brace, or other miscellaneous expenses you might have incurred as a result of the accident. This also includes money for gasoline that you expended going to your various doctors’ appointments.Pain and Suffering Explained
Pain and suffering is an amount of money that is intended to compensate you for damages you suffered that are hard to put a number to but still impacted your life, such as the pain, suffering, inconvenience, and the toll this construction accident took on your life. For example, if the construction accident caused you to be unable to garden, hike, or sleep like you once did, then you are allowed to receive money for these damages.
It should be noted that there is a loose connection between the amount of money you will receive in pain and suffering and the amount of your medical bills. In other words, if you have a $50,000 medical bill, it would be unlikely that you would receive fifty million or fifty dollars for pain and suffering.
The reason is that these two numbers are out of relation with each other. It is not to say that there is an exact formula or even a precise law that states how much pain and suffering should be awarded—neither exists—but it is just to say that there is in fact a relationship. If you have questions about your case and the value of your pain and suffering, feel free to call us for a free consultation.How The Jackman Law Firm Can Help
The Jackman Law Firm can help you recover money for your medical bills, lost wages, out of pocket expenses, pain and suffering, and possibly other damages such as future medical bills, future lost wages, and a loss of consortium for your spouse, if applicable. Legally, you are allowed to recover money for all of those damages.
In addition, the Jackman Law Firm can help you successfully negotiate with the insurance company for the company that was responsible for your injuries. As you can imagine, you will likely be facing a large insurance company that is going to fight you tooth and nail before they pay you a penny for your injuries. You need an experienced attorney who has been there, done that, and won.
Alternatively, if we cannot get anywhere with negotiating with the insurance company, we stand ready and able to take your case to trial, where we will put on a great presentation to the jury to prove your case. It may seem hard to believe, but sometimes insurance companies will allege that you were either partly or entirely responsible for your injuries.
If that is the case, you need an attorney who can prove your case. This means interviewing witnesses, taking depositions, obtaining key documents, and preparing these documents for trial. The Jackman Law Firm has successfully litigated dozens of construction cases and won millions for his clients over the years. Feel free to call for a free consultation.