Report: serious construction injuries can result in “mega” claims

by | Aug 27, 2020 | Construction accident

If you look at a list of America’s most dangerous jobs, you’ll find that while police officers and firefighters rank high, the work done by construction laborers and structural iron and steel workers is even more dangerous.

Common causes of construction injuries

Construction accidents happen in a wide variety of ways, including falls from scaffolding and from heights inside and top of structures and ladders. Other dangerous mishaps involve exposures to toxic chemicals, fires, trench collapse, building collapse, electrocution and falling debris, materials or tools.

According to a recent study for workers’ compensation insurance firms, “mega” workers’ comp claims by construction workers comprised about 40 percent of all large claims from 2001 to 2017.

Researchers analyzed workers’ comp claims surpassing $3 million in costs, finding that mega claims are both “highly unpredictable” and “relatively infrequent.”

Insurers can expect rising costs

The report states that future construction-related workers’ compensation costs are expected to rise, in part because medical advances are “improving mortality rates, particularly for those with serious injuries.”

According to researchers, there were about 4,500 construction accident claims that cost insurers $3 million or more from 2001 through 2017. Of those claims, 57 percent involved costs of between $3 million and $5 million. A third of the claims were between $5 million and $10 million and 10 percent were claims in excess of $10 million.

The report states that mega claims “dropped sharply” during the 2008-2009 “Great Recession, when construction slowed across the nation. Since 2013, mega claims have steadily risen in frequency.

More about construction workers’ comp claims

Other points about construction injury workers’ comp claims from the report:

  • Brain and head injuries comprise 17 percent of mega claims for between $3 million and $5 million, but jump to 30 percent of the claims that cost workers’ comp insurance companies in excess of $10 million.
  • Twenty percent of all mega claims involve construction injuries stemming from motor vehicle crashes.
  • Unsurprisingly, researchers found that construction industry mega claims reach the $3 million cost threshold faster than claims from the office/clerical sector.
  • Construction injury claims that reach the $3 million threshold quickest: motor vehicle crashes and “struck by” injuries.

In New Jersey, employees who have a work-related injury that results in permanent disability are entitled to full and fair compensation.