Dangerous Construction Companies Shouldn’t Be Getting a Break from Fines

Dangerous Construction CompaniesA recurring trend involves state officials across North Carolina reducing penalties for construction companies with citations related to construction workers killed on the job. This is appalling because it signifies that injured or killed construction workers are not taken seriously and do not matter.

When construction companies are given a break with reduced penalties for safety violations, this opens the door for more construction workers to be seriously injured or killed while on duty.

What do you mean construction companies are getting a break?

According to a recent Charlotte Observer article, “state labor officials trimmed penalties more than 40% of the time after citing companies for violations linked to worker deaths in 2022 and 2023.” Some of the North Carolina construction companies receiving reduced fines are located in the city of Charlotte and were at fault for the deaths of five construction employees in 2023. The Charlotte Observer found that many construction businesses are given lower penalties even though inspectors found dangerous conditions at their construction sites. In Charlotte and Mecklenburg County alone, three of the construction companies that were given reduced fines include:

  • Baker Insulation: Two construction workers were killed on the job in May 2023 when a fire erupted. As a result, safety inspectors gave citations to the company which listed four violations. Unfortunately, the state threw out three of the violations and gave the company a 25 percent fine reduction.
  • Friends Masonry: Three construction workers were killed in January 2023 when a scaffolding structure fell 16 stories. Safety inspectors issued the company a citation for three violations but reduced the company’s fine by over $14,000.
  • Metrolina Greenhouses: A construction worker was installing lights when he fell to his death in May 2022. The company was penalized for two violations, but the state reduced their fine by around 35 percent.

At Price, Petho & Associates, we find it disturbing that state officials are giving out penalty and violation reductions. To us, this indicates that what happened to these employees is no big deal and allows negligent construction companies to continue to put their workers in harm’s way. While they still must pay a fine, the fines have been reduced so dramatically that they no longer serve as a punishment or consequence for the companies. Ashley Hawkins, president of the Charlotte-Metrolina Labor Council, told the Charlotte Observer “it sends a message to employers that it’s okay to mistreat workers in North Carolina. That it’s okay to endanger workers in the pursuit of profits.”

What are my legal options if I am injured in a construction accident in Charlotte, NC?

If you are injured in a construction accident, you generally have two legal options: workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit. It can be difficult to know which legal option to choose, but a Charlotte construction accident attorney from our firm can look over the facts and circumstances of your case and help you select the best legal option for you. Here are some key differences between a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit that you should know about:

Workers’ compensation claim:

  • Workers’ compensation will cover all your medical expenses: If you file a workers’ compensation claim and are approved, you do not have to worry about paying for your medical expenses. Your workers’ compensation will cover all your medical-related bills and expenses for you.
  • Workers’ compensation will provide 66 percent of your weekly income: North Carolina gives injured workers who are approved for workers’ compensation 66 percent of their normal weekly income to use to take care of your family and pay out-of-pocket expenses.
  • You do not have to prove fault to receive workers’ compensation: Workers’ compensation is a no-fault benefit for injured workers, meaning you do not have to prove fault to receive this compensation.

Personal injury lawsuit:

  • You will need to prove fault in order to successfully win a personal injury case: When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you will be required to prove that a negligent party is at fault for your accident, injuries, and other losses.
  • You can receive compensation for more than your medical expenses and lost wages: Personal injury lawsuits give you the opportunity to seek and receive compensation for more than your medical expenses and lost wages, meaning you may be awarded compensation for your pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, loss of enjoyment of activities, and more.
  • It may be your only option if you’re not an employee: Only covered employees can file for workers’ compensation benefits. If you are an independent contractor, a day laborer, or a subcontractor, or if your injuries were caused by another crew’s worker, then a personal injury lawsuit may be your only choice.

Sometimes, injured construction workers will decide to file both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit. This might be the case, for example, if you suffer harm because of a dangerous product, like a faulty power tool or defective safety harness. No matter the facts and circumstances of your case, it is crucial that you reach out to an attorney who handles both of these types of legal claims for advice on which you should pursue.

Construction workers who suffer severe and life-altering injuries in construction accidents deserve lawyers like Price, Petho & Associates to stand up and fight tirelessly for them. If you or your loved one was injured in a worksite accident anywhere in North Carolina, please contact our Charlotte construction accident attorneys today. Call our office or complete our contact form to schedule your free and confidential consultation. We have been serving clients across the state from our offices in Charlotte, Rutherfordton, and Rockingham for over 30 years and never back down without a fight.