Steps to Take Following an Accident

If an accident occurs, seek medical treatment, report the accident and document the scene. Workers can file a workers’ comp claim or personal injury claim if a result of third-party negligence.
By Zachary Perecman
September 14, 2021

Even with the most rigorous safety plan in place, construction accidents are a distinct possibility on the job site. The work necessitates navigating tall heights, large drops and the use of heavy machinery—all of which require intensive training, focus and the right set of circumstances. Still, even when everything is properly accounted for, a worker runs the potential risk of injury or accident, so it’s important to be aware of worksite hazards and steps to take should an accident occur.

According to the Occupation Safety and Health Administration, about 20% (1,061) of worker fatalities in private industry for 2019 occurred within construction. When the worst-case scenario occurs, it can be extremely jarring for both victim(s) and bystander(s). Accidents are often sudden and unpredictable, leaving many unsure of what to do next and how to help themselves and others. However, with the proper knowledge and post-accident training, employers can help keep workers safe on the job. When shortcuts are taken and proper protections are not put in place, workers are at risk for serious, sometimes fatal, injuries.

Immediately Following an Accident

While there is likely a period of initial shock, the first few moments can be the most critical for action and detrimental in the face of inaction. All nearby workers and supervisors must work to minimize the damage and help restore safety in the area. Steps may include, but are not limited to:

  • turning off the power if the incident involves a powerline or electricity;
  • helping to move heavy objects to get the worker(s) out of harm's way; and
  • securing the area against further risk.

Remember, time is of the essence when it comes to reducing potential harm and getting injuries treated by a medical professional.

Medical Attention and Reporting

The next step is also time-sensitive: seeking medical attention. Immediately after an incident, regardless of the perceived severity, the first step is always to seek medical attention for all involved parties. While the injuries may initially seem minor, it’s best to have a trained medical professional evaluate, treat and document all injuries the worker has due to the accident. This is especially important as injuries often only appear or become exacerbated later down the road and documentation can aid in the case for future medical treatment, a personal injury suit or a workers’ compensation claim.

Once a worker has secured medical treatment, the next step is to report the incident to the employer and all supervisors—and the sooner this occurs, the better. Each state has different requirements as to the window to report and method for reporting. In all cases, the sooner the employer is notified (in writing), the more quickly the process of compensation and/or investigation can begin. Workers should be sure to keep a copy of this notification of incident and injuries as well for any future claims.


After an accident, workers should be sure to gather as much information and documentation of the incident as possible. If a worker is thorough and prompt in the gathering and documentation stage, there is a higher likelihood of a swift compensation and/or a stronger claim case. If this is not possible for any number of reasons, an investigator or private attorney is able to assist in this stage and should be sought as soon as possible.

In addition to requesting and keeping a copy of all medical records, services and expenses for reimbursement, a worker should also try to document the scene itself. Photographs are vital to building a strong case as they can help the insurance company verify the incident and find the appropriate party at fault. If there was a lack of proper training, faulty equipment or other negligence involved, these photographs can be helpful in providing support for that claim.

Additionally, the worker should attempt to find out if there was any video surveillance footage that may have documented the incident and request that such footage be preserved. If the incident resulted in visible damage to the site or equipment, photographic and video evidence can aid in the discussion of severity and help make clear the case for any medical expenses down the road.

Another factor that is often overlooked is whether there were any witnesses who saw the incident occur. If possible, a worker should note the parties who may have seen the accident occur and who may be able to provide eye-witness testimony in the event of a lawsuit. Unfortunately, not all witnesses may be willing to provide contact information or an account of the story at first, but the injured party can do their best to document and hand over all gleaned contact information or nearby parties to their attorney to handle the investigation on this front.

Find a Personal Injury Attorney

Once the above is completed, the injured worker should seek out and consult a trusted lawyer to discuss their legal rights and options for recourse as well as next steps should a personal injury claim be filed. The incident may be best served by filing a worker’s compensation claim for wage loss benefits or medical expenses. In certain cases, the incident may also warrant the filing of a personal injury claim or lawsuit against a negligent third party that can obtain other types of compensation for damages such as pain and suffering and full loss of wages and benefits.

A personal injury attorney can help guide injured workers through every step of the legal process of filing a claim against a negligent party from start to finish. An experienced personal injury lawyer is able to provide legal advice, counsel and representation. A personal injury attorney can also aid in the above stages, including gathering of information and evidence to further support a claim to help to assure an injured worker receives the compensation they deserve.

Construction Site Injuries

While the hope is that a construction site injury or accident never occurs, unfortunately these accidents are common with the construction industry and account for as many as one in five worker deaths for 2019 according to OSHA. Thankfully, should the worst occur, there are steps one can take. Seeking immediate medical treatment and evaluation is a critical first step, followed by reporting the accident, documenting the scene of the incident and any injuries. Workers can recover damages for injuries by filing a workers’ compensation claim and, if the accident was the result of a third-party’s negligence, injured workers can file a personal injury claim. It’s important to seek the guidance of an experienced personal injury lawyer who can advise workers of their legal rights, options for recourse and can guide them through the process from start to finish.

by Zachary Perecman
Zachary Perecman concentrates his legal practice in all aspects of the plaintiff’s personal injury law, including construction accidents, premises liability, and motor vehicle accidents, as well as civil rights violations, including false arrest, wrongful conviction, and police abuse cases. Zachary worked at The Perecman Firm throughout both college and law school, joining the firm as an attorney upon admission to the New York State Bar in 2015. He is a member of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association and New York County Lawyers Association. He was named to the New York Metro Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list in the area of “Personal Injury – Plaintiff” for 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

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