If you are a construction worker in Oklahoma, you will naturally spend much time on scaffolding structures. One thing completely out of your control is that you have to rely on those who manufactured them to follow the necessary safety guidelines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict regulations that cover the terrain requirements along with the standard of materials used for the scaffold, the distance from power lines and more.
Although scaffold-related injuries and fatalities are alarmingly prevalent, they do not always result from collapsed structures. Slippery or inclined scaffolds can cause you to slip and fall, you might be without the necessary personal protective equipment, or you can suffer an electric shock if the scaffold was not the required distance from power lines. You might even have been at ground level and struck by an object dropped by a co-worker on the scaffold.
Your first steps following a scaffolding accident
If possible, evaluate your own and your co-workers' conditions and alert emergency services. Make sure you get medical care, even if you think your injuries are minor. This will establish the necessary record of the incident for the purposes of a workers' compensation claim or even litigation that might follow. Discussing the case with an attorney before you sign any papers or accept a workers' compensation benefits award could prove invaluable.
Your workers' compensation claim
Never allow your boss to rush your claim. Although you must report the incident as soon as possible, you will have time first to discuss the details with your attorney. Your workers' compensation benefits will depend on the severity of your injuries, and they typically cover medical expenses and a percentage of lost income. However, the insurance provider may deny your claim or your benefits may be insufficient to cover your losses or damages.
If you submitted your claim after the deadline or if your employer disputes it, this could be reason for the insurer to reject your request. Also, if you did not submit medical bills, your employer might say you suffered no injuries. If your boss or the insurance provider rejects your claim, your legal representative may assess the circumstances and either fight the denied claim or, in certain cases, file a civil lawsuit.
There might be third-party liability
An example of circumstances that could provide grounds for a third-party civil lawsuit would be a sub-contractor who erected an unsafe scaffold. If such a claim is viable, you may even pursue that along with your workers' compensation benefits claim. This could ensure additional coverage for damages that the insurance benefits do not cover.