Construction Accident Lawyers in Santa Fe, New Mexico

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If you have been injured in a construction accident, or if you have a loved one that has been injured or killed in a construction accident, you may be entitled to compensation for damages.  At Zinda Law Group, our experienced Santa Fe construction accident lawyers can help you seek the maximum compensation possible for injuries and damage incurred as a result of the accident.  We may not only fight to get you and your family the compensation they deserve, but also hold the negligent parties accountable.  Our firm handles construction accident cases throughout New Mexico, including Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Rio Rancho.  Call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with our experienced Santa Fe construction accident lawyers.

Construction Accident Statistics

The construction industry has one of the largest workforces in the United States.  As of 2019, construction ranks in at about the sixth largest industry by number of employees, with approximately 11.4 million workers nationwide.  Moreover, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction and extraction markets are projected to grow by 4% from 2019 to 2029.  These expanding markets are mainly being driven by population growth, which is increasing the nation’s demand for new buildings, roads, and other structures.

Unsurprisingly, given the size of the industry and its ever-expanding growth, construction is also one of the most dangerous jobs in our country.  According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017, of the twenty most hazardous jobs ranked according to fatal injury rates, construction jobs comprise six of the deadliest job positions.  Among these high-risk jobs, construction crews working in the areas of paving, surfacing, and tamping equipment operations were the most at risk, with a rate of 46.7 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers.

Despite continual prevention efforts and stricter occupational safety laws, workers in the construction industry are still at high risk for catastrophic injury and death.  In-fact, fatal injuries at construction sites are on the rise, increasing from 985 fatalities in 2015 to 1,038 fatalities in 2019.  In New Mexico in particular, there were 4 fatal construction accidents in 2018.  Further, there are on average 2.8 non-fatal injuries for every 100 full-time construction workers in New Mexico.

Although these statistics largely reflect the hazards faced by construction workers at their jobs, the effects of a dangerous construction site can also imperil the lives of bystanders and pedestrians.  Regardless of who is injured, accidents at construction sites have the potential to cause catastrophic injuries, and these injuries often result in the victim’s family incurring large costs ranging from property damage, medical expenses, lost productivity, as well as psychological pain and suffering associated with an injury or death.

Learn More: Why Hiring a Lawyer Will Help Your Case

What Legal Recourse MAY You Have For Construction Accidents?

The different remedies available to injured parties greatly depend on the state in which the accident occurred and their affiliation or non-affiliation with the construction site.  Construction workers and pedestrians/non-employees recover differently for accidents stemming from a worksite.  In New Mexico, employees of the construction company who are injured while on the job generally recover exclusively from workers’ compensation insurance, with a few exceptions.  Whereas pedestrians and non-employees of the construction company have a wide array of legal remedies available to them.  The distinctions between these two groups’ differing forms of recovery are elaborated on below.

Pedestrians or Members of the Public Involved in Construction Accidents

Pedestrians, drivers, and any members of the public not affiliated with the construction project who were injured as a result of construction activities are entitled to sue any negligent parties who caused or contributed to the accident.  Therefore, if you are unaffiliated with the construction site and you were injured by their activities, you could pursue any of the blameworthy parties under a personal injury claim and/or property damage claim.

In New Mexico, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is three years from the date of injury and four years for any damage to personal property.  Thus, it is crucial that you find an attorney who will promptly conduct a thorough investigation, duly file your claim, and position your case for an optimal outcome.  Personal injury attorneys, who specialize in construction accidents, have the knowledge and experience necessary to evaluate the applicable safety codes, assess the culpable parties operating on the site, and find an expert to testify on your behalf.  Consulting an attorney will help you make sense of your legal options and relieve the stress of managing your recovery all by yourself.

Construction Workers Hurt on the Job

Construction workers and site-employees, unlike pedestrians and bystanders, have a more limited scope of remedies available to them. Generally, unless you’re working for an extremely small construction operation (i.e. fewer than 3 people) you will most likely recover exclusively under the Workers’ Compensation Act. However, there are a few exceptions that may preserve an injured construction worker’s right to file a personal injury claim stemming from a workplace accident.

Workers’ Compensation

The state of New Mexico imposes strict workers’ compensation insurance rules on employers.  Therefore under New Mexico law, businesses with three or more employees are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage to all of their employees.

Workers’ compensation provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of their employment in exchange for the mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue his or her employer for negligence.  Therefore, if you are injured at work and you work for a business with more than three employees, you most likely cannot sue your employer under a personal injury claim.

In reality, although workers’ compensation provides some level of coverage for medical expenses and lost wages to employees hurt on the job or their beneficiaries, it is not always adequate to cover the extent of damages – both physical and psychological – that they have sustained.  In fact, the Workers’ Compensation Act often acts as a cap to limit the amount a victim can recover from their insurer, preventing them from receiving fair and complete compensation.  Thus, there are several rules and issues that you should understand to fully protect your rights to compensation for work-related injuries.

Exceptions to the Exclusive Remedies Provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act

While the vast majority of employees will only recover damages under workers’ compensation, there are some rare exceptions where you may still retain the ability to file a personal injury claim.

Your Employer Doesn’t Carry Sufficient Insurance

Under New Mexico law, the employer is protected against personal injury claims by the worker, even where the employer was negligent or even grossly negligent.  However, the protections of New Mexico’s workers’ compensation law only extend to those employers that have regularly maintained workers’ compensation insurance.  That means, if the construction company or the contractor for whom you worked failed to continue paying for workers’ compensation insurance prior to your accident, you may still be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. The employer’s lack of workers’ compensation coverage opens them to the same liability as if you were a pedestrian or bystander injured at the worksite.

Delgado Exception

Another means of suing your employer, despite having workers’ compensation insurance, is through the Delgado exception.  The New Mexico Supreme Court in Delgado v. Phelps Dodge (2001) created an exception that allowed a plaintiff to sue their employer for personal injury and wrongful death if the employer knowingly sent the employee into an extremely dangerous and unnecessary situation where serious harm or death was virtually certain to occur.   Delgado sets an extremely high evidentiary bar to overcome the exclusive remedies available under the Workers’ Compensation Act but allows for injured employees and their surviving family members to seek full compensation in this extremely rare situation.

Claims Against Third Parties

Lastly, although workers’ compensation laws limit claims against employers, they do not limit claims against third parties operating at the site.   Even though a construction worker may not be entitled to sue their own employer, they may be able to sue another operator or company that was working at the site and which contributed to the accident.  Third-party claims fall outside the purview of the Workers’ Compensation Act, and act as though you are simply suing a non-employer for personal injuries suffered as a result of that party’s negligence.

Thus, if an injured construction worker or their family feels that the workers’ compensation benefits do not adequately cover their losses, they should contact an experienced construction accident attorney to assess their options.  Injured employees and their surviving beneficiaries need not simply accept the bare minimum of workers’ compensation benefits that they are initially offered.  Speaking with an attorney may increase your compensation and preserve your rights to file suit.

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At Zinda Law Group, our Santa Fe attorneys have helped many construction accident survivors and their surviving beneficiaries get their lives back on track after suffering injuries, death, and financial losses.   We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you seek maximum compensation for any associated medical bills, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, and all the other costs your accident has caused.  If you’re a pedestrian or bystander who doesn’t work for the construction company, we may be able to help you recover the full damages you are entitled to including your physical and mental pain and suffering as well as any lost wages.  If you are an injured construction worker and you are not able to sue your employer, you may still be able to receive compensation under workers’ compensation.

Our firm believes that construction accident victims should not have to worry about their ability to afford high-quality legal representation. This is why we offer 100% free consultations.  Zinda Law Group operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will pay nothing unless we win your case.  That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free consultation with one of our Santa Fe attorneys today.  We are also offering free virtual consultations during the COVID-19 crisis.

Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.