indiana law

Construction Site Accidents Happen, We Can Help

stock-photo-16304582-construction-site-accident1-300x250The construction industry can be a very dangerous field of work. Contractors, developers, property owners, product manufacturers and employers are required to abide by strict construction site safety regulations, but sometimes they don’t always comply.

If an employee has been injured during a construction job due to safety standards not being met, the accident victim may be eligible for compensation by filing a workers’ compensation claim. But did you know that parties other than your employer could potentially be liable for your work injuries in a third-party claim? Other responsible parties include subcontractors, equipment manufacturers and drivers.

In 2013, one in five worker deaths were in construction. OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) has four different categories of construction worker injuries titled “the fatal four” which include falls, electrocutions, “caught in-between” and “struck by object.” The fatal four account for 58% of construction worker fatalities.

Some common construction site injuries and accidents that we handle include…

  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Heavy machinery/crane accidents
  • Exposure to dangerous, toxic chemicals
  • Fires and explosions
  • Trench and scaffolding collapse

Report your injury to your employer as soon as possible and seek medical attention. Focus on your recovery while the lawyers at Klezmer Maudlin work on your case to help get you the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. Our lawyers will help you gather the evidence you need to your suit. Regardless of who is at fault, you have a right to file a claim for benefits which cover medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages.

If you file a third-party claim, the compensation revered is in addition to your workers’ compensation benefits which can include pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and more.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a construction accident, call Klezmer Maudlin at 317.569.9644 so we can get started right away at pursue your claim.

Personal Experience With Unfair Treatment of Injured Workers

As an attorney, I see many cases where adjusters and employers are fair and try their best to follow the law. However, I see cases where adjusters and employers try to skirt the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act laws at every turn.

The more I practice law, the more I feel like employers, in many cases, look for any reason to take advantage of injured workers.  Two recent examples really make me wonder about what rights injured workers may have.

In a recent case, my client, an employee of a nursing home, was injured at work and offered light duty which consisted of remaining at the nursing home for a period of 13 hours a day and working three separate work shifts with 2-3 hour breaks in between.  I truly feel that the employer designed this offer of light duty so that she would refuse it, then lose her job and not be paid workers’ compensation benefits.  The employer later modified this offer of light duty to include only 3 hours a day of work.  My client lives 25 minutes from this nursing home and to work 3 hours a day after taxes would put approximately $35 in her pocket a day.  I assume gas money would probably cost 1/3rd of that amount.

Another scenario I saw recently, and I see all the time, is an insurance adjuster or an employer ignoring treatment recommendations of doctors they select.  Under our Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act, an employer is allowed to select the physician, but is required to provide the treatment, medical services or supplies recommended by that physician.  An adjuster or an employer is not free to pick or choose what it will authorize or what it will not.

Court of Appeals Rules Independent Contractor’s Death Already Properly Compensated

The Indiana Court of Appeals determined that the estate of an independent contractor who died after falling off a ladder has been properly compensated through the state Workers’ Compensation Act. Therefore, the estate cannot claim at a later date that his injuries occurred outside the scope of employment.

The Indiana Court of Appeals has determined that the estate of an independent contractor who fell off a ladder and died was properly compensated through the state workers’ compensation act, and the man’s estate cannot later claim that his injuries occurred outside the scope of employment.

In The Estate of Donald Eugene Smith v. Joshua Stutzman d/b/a Keystone Builders, No. 43A01-1103-PL-136, an appellate panel affirmed the judgment of Kosciusko Superior Judge Duane Huffer in dismissing the estate’s lawsuit against Keystone Builders.

Eugene Smith, who worked for Keystone Builders, broke his neck and died when he fell 20 feet from a ladder in March 2010. Smith’s widow and estate agreed that Smith’s workers’ compensation claim would be settled for a lump-sum settlement of $100,000. In October 2010, however, the estate filed a complaint against Joshua Stutzman, alleging that Smith’s death was the result of Stutzman’s negligence in maintaining a safe workplace. Since Smith was an independent contractor and not an official employee, the estate argued that the claim was valid.

The trial court entered a default judgment against Stutzman, but ultimately dismissed the case in Stutzman’s favor because the Worker’s Compensation Board has exclusive jurisdiction.

Applying its own caselaw about workers’ compensation coverage, the appellate panel also relied on Sims v. U.S. Fidelity & Guar. Co., 782 N.E.2d 345, 349-350 (Ind. 2003), in which the act’s exclusivity provision bars a court from hearing any common law action brought by an employee for the same injury.

On the issue of whether Smith was an employee, the parties agreed to resolve those differences via a settlement agreement.