Construction work can be dangerous, but don’t let insurance companies cheat you out of your workers’ compensation.
Every year hundreds of thousands of construction workers are hurt on the job. Contractors are constantly exposed to dust and debris and dangerous heavy equipment. Workers can even develop pain or injuries from doing the same physical tasks over and over (called repetitive motion trauma). No wonder most construction workers have to wear helmets—it’s a dangerous gig. So when you get hurt at work, you deserve to be compensated.
I was hurt by a machine at work. Can I get workers’ compensation and sue the machine manufacturer?
Illinois workers’ compensation law protects companies from being sued unless there is proof the company was at fault. But Illinois law does not protect machinery manufacturers the same way. If you were using a machine that malfunctioned and you got injured, you can and should claim workers’ compensation from your employer and sue the manufacturer at the same time.
Can I sue my employer?
To sue your employer, you must have proof that the employer was guilty of “gross negligence”—that your work area was unsafe because the company wasn’t careful. For example, if your employer knew you were regularly exposed to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals and didn’t put any practical safety measures in place, you could probably win a lawsuit. If your company hired an unstable person with a previous record of violence and they hit you with a hammer while at work, you may be able to sue depending on how much your employer knew. But if your employer followed reasonable, industry-standard safety procedures to limit potential exposure to dangerous material and you got sick or hurt anyways, you’re probably out of luck.
On a construction site, watch for these warning signs:
- Are safety procedures enforced?
- Is personal protection equipment provided (hard hats, clothing, gloves, eyewear, etc.)?
- Are worksites tested for health risks (like asbestos and other chemicals)?
- Are employees properly trained before operating power tools and heavy machinery?
So overall, can you sue? It’s really tough without hard evidence. But depending on the situation, it might be appropriate to take action against your employer. If you’re unsure whether your situation is right for a lawsuit, call the Epstein Law Firm for a free consultation. We’ll make sure we get your case settled.
This post is also available in: Spanish