Construction accident compensation

Construction sites expose workers to a variety of hazards such as machinery, working from heights, chemicals, noise, dust and exposure to the elements, making them one of the most dangerous workplaces in Australia.

In fact, in 2016 there were 30 work related fatalities in the construction industry and a further 10 deaths before 22 May in 2017.

It is important that construction workers are aware of the risks associated with their workplace and understand their rights to compensation if they are injured.

Injured? Get expert advice now: Smith's are Queensland's only 100% risk-free injury compensation lawyers. Insist on our 'No Win. No Fee. No Catch' ® promise. Check your rights with no risk or obligations now and talk direct to our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith. Call 1800 266 801 OR  check if you can claim

Common causes of Injuries and Fatalities in Construction

  • Machinery: Equipment and power tools including saws, nail guns and drills may cause cuts, lacerations, bruises, amputations and crush injuries.
  • Electricity: Faulty cords, machinery or switches as well as overhead power lines carry risk of electrocution or electric shock.
  • Heights: Falling from ladders, scaffolding or upper floors of a building site may result in minor to severe injuries including soft tissue injuries, fractures, spinal injuries, head injuries and even fatality.
  • Falls, trips and slips: Tools, debris and materials can create tripping hazards on a construction site and workers often have to traverse a site frequently carting tools, machinery and materials.
  • Hit by moving or falling objects: Being struck with a projectile from machinery or an object falling from overhead can result in a variety of injuries. 
  • Vehicles: Accidents in vehicles including trucks, cranes, excavation and earth moving equipment can cause injury and death.
  • Weather: Exposure to the environment may result in sunburn, dehydration and heatstroke.
  • Loud Noise: Machinery, equipment and power tool noise can cause industrial deafness.
  • Chemicals: Burns and respiratory illnesses or poisoning may result from exposure to chemicals used on construction sites.

Compensation for construction injuries

Construction workers may be able to claim compensation for their injuries if it resulted from someone else’s negligence or carelessness. In order to claim under the Queensland Workers Compensation scheme, you must be considered a 'worker'. 

For more information see:  Who does WorkCover cover? 

If you are injured at work, you may be able to claim compensation from your employer. Employers must provide proper and adequate means for employees to carry out their work.

This includes:

  • providing safe systems of work
  • maintaining safe machinery and equipment
  • maintaining a safe workplace; and
  • providing employees with adequate facilities, training, supervision and instruction.

If you are injured because your employer neglects to provide safe systems of work, equipment or a safe environment, you may be able to sue for personal injury compensation. This includes injuries incurred over a long period of time, late onset injuries, and aggravations of pre-existing injuries.

Note: Weekly WorkCover payments operate under a separate ‘no fault’ scheme, meaning that you can receive weekly payments to cover lost income even if your injury was not because of your employer’s negligence.
Examples: Jeff is an apprentice carpenter.  He  is instructed by his employer to use a drop saw, which has no guard over the blade and which he has not been properly trained to use. While attempting to cut a piece of timber Jeff’s left finger is amputated by the blades of the saw. Jeff may be able to claim compensation from his employer since they failed to provide safe equipment and adequate training. Rick suffers head and spinal injuries when he falls from the fifth storey of a multilevel building which is under construction. Rick’s employer has provided him with a harness which he is required to wear if he is working from a height however, he was not wearing it. Rick may not be able to claim compensation for his injuries as they were due to his own negligence. However, he may be able to apply for Workers Compensation payments while he is off work.

See also: WorkCover Claims

Construction injury compensation - what can I claim for?

General damages

General damages compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced as well as any permanent loss of enjoyment of life as a result of your injuries. They are calculated by reference to the ISV Scale which rates the seriousness of any injury between 1 and 100 and accords a monetary value range to that rating. 

For example an injury causing quadriplegia has a rating of 75 to 100 and a monetary range of $232,600 to $349,400 whereas amputation of a finger is rated 5 to 20 with a monetary range of $6,950 to $36,250.

Medical costs

To diagnose and treat your injuries you may need to consult your general practitioner, consult a specialist, obtain x-rays or MRIs, take pain medications and wear special braces apparatus. The expenses you incur to obtain medical treatment including costs of consultations, diagnostic scans, travel costs, medication and medical equipment may be claimed as compensation.   You can also claim for medical costs you will incur in the future as a result of your injury.

Hospital and surgical costs

Serious injuries may require surgery or other treatment requiring a hospital stay. Surgical or hospital costs paid by you can be claimed as compensation as long as the surgery was necessary to treat your condition.

Rehabilitation costs

Rehabilitation following an injury may involve physiotherapy, home and vehicle modifications and ergonomic aids. Your reasonable costs of rehabilitation can be claimed back as compensation.

Loss of income and future earning capacity

If you suffer from a serious injury you may need time off work for several weeks or months. You can claim compensation for this lost income.

If your injury prevents you from working in the future to the same extent as you did prior to the injury you may also be able to claim loss of future income earning capacity. This is usually estimated as a lump sum figure based on the age of the person, their usual occupation and other skills.

Loss of Superannuation

Compensation can be claimed for superannuation that would have been paid on lost income.

Care & Assistance

Serious injuries may prevent you from being able to perform tasks such as personal care, cleaning, laundry, mowing your lawns, caring for the garden or other domestic chores. If you formerly performed these duties but are now unable to as a result of an injury, you can claim compensation for care and assistance provided to you by friends, relatives or paid contractors.

In Queensland there is a minimum threshold for this type of compensation.

Interest

Interest can generally be claimed on compensation for any ‘out of pocket’ expenses that are incurred before your claim is resolved.

How will my compensation be determined?

In general terms, the amount of compensation is gauged by comparing what your life was like before the injury and what it is like now as a result of the injury. Therefore, someone whose injury has had a greater impact on their life will be entitled to more compensation than someone whose injury has had only minimal impact.

The amount of compensation payable for an injury will vary greatly from case to case, depending on a variety of variables such as:

  • the severity of the injury: more severe injuries will attract more compensation
  • the age of the patient: young people are likely to receive greater compensation than older people for a similar injury as it will impact their lifestyle and employment for a longer period of time.
  • level of health prior to the incident: an active and healthy person may suffer more from an injury because they are unable to exercise the way they did prior to the accident and may become predisposed to mood disorders and other health conditions they may not have suffered were it not for their injury.
  • pre-incident lifestyle: injured claimants who formerly engaged in activities they can no longer participate in may experience greater impact from their injuries.
  • occupation: greater compensation will be payable where a person’s ability to work in their former occupation is impacted severely by their injuries.

What time limits apply to my claim?

For most personal injury claims, a legal action must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, your claim will be statute barred and you will lose all rights to claim compensation. 

Strict time limits apply - seek legal advice ASAP - In most circumstances, the time limit to start a compensation claim is 3 years from the date of incident. Some processes need to be started much sooner. Seek expert legal advice ASAP. Call us on 1800 266 801 or start a live chat.

However, depending on where your injury occurred and who you are suing, specific pre-court procedures may apply which have their own time limits which are much sooner. If you miss these time limits you may lose your right to pursue your claim if you cannot provide sufficient reasons to the court as to why you delayed and why you should be allowed to proceed with your claim.

If your injuries were sustained at work

Statutory worker’s compensation claims in Queensland must be filed within 6 months from the date of the accident or the date you become aware of your injury.  If you intend to then sue your employer for negligence (otherwise known as a common law claim) you must request an assessment of permanent impairment from the workers’ compensation insurer within 2.5 years of the injury.

If you are under 18 years of age

For minors, the obligation to serve the other party with a Notice of Claim begins when the child turns 18, however a parent or guardian may do this on behalf of the minor before they turn 18. In the case medical negligence claims, a parent or legal guardian of a minor must serve a Notice of Claim within 6 years of the day when the parent or guardian knew or ought to have known of the injury.

Next steps - get advice now

It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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Last update on:
May 29, 2018
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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