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May 21st, 2013

Jury Trials in Work & Construction Accident Cases in Pennsylvania

Work accident and construction accidents are some of my favorite cases to try. There is nothing more rewarding than representing an injured worker. You might say that I was born to do it. After all, my father was a union carpenter.

In my view, juries tend to identify and therefore side with everyday workers like carpenters, plumbers, steel workers, etc. Why? Because workers are everyday people, trying to make an honest living working hard. That’s what juries see in workers – the ideal of hard work and honest living. This is why juries often return large verdicts in cases when injured workers become disabled due to work related injuries.

The Importance of Jury Trials in a Work Accident Case – Dealing with an Insurance Company

How an Insurance Company Gets Involved

About 90% of the time, building companies, contractors, subcontractors, etc. have insurance contracts which cover negligence committed by employees during the course and scope of their work. This is known as a general liability insurance policy or contract.

Generally speaking, on large construction or work sites, when multiple parties are performing work, multiple insurance contracts or general liability policies will apply. Therefore, when a work accident occurs, there may be more than one insurance company involved in the resulting work accident lawsuit.

After a work accident occurs, the injured worker’s lawyer may attempt to negotiate with the insurance company of the contractor whose negligence caused the accident. Insurance companies often use the same tactics to try to delay, deny or otherwise avoid paying on a given, valid work accident claim.

Related: Liability in a Pennsylvania Construction Site Accident Lawsuit

For example, if a steel worker is injured as a result of negligent and unsafe practices on a construction site and has a valid claim against a general contractor, the general contractor’s insurance company will defend the case. It will hire a defense attorney and is required to pay for injuries up to the amount of the insurance purchased, anywhere between $1,000,000 up to $10,000,000 or more if there are rider or umbrella policies. These are additional insurance coverage policies which a business may purchase in order to protect itself and its assets from liability in a negligence situation.

Jury Trials Send a Message to Insurance Companies

Jury trials are especially important when dealing with an insurance company that is unwilling to negotiate. When dealing with a work related accident claim, an insurance company may be unreasonable in its handling of the claim, again by delaying or otherwise denying parts of the claim. An injured worker may then be forced to file a lawsuit to protect their rights. Although the lawsuit is against the contractor or company which committed negligence, the insurance company steps in and defends the case, pursuant to the liability policy in place at the time the work accident occurred.

Related: Jury Trials in Accident Lawsuits

Insurance company tactics may continue throughout the lawsuit, eventually necessitating a jury trial. Insurance companies often make decisions in a vacuum. Insurance adjusters who make decisions in work accident lawsuit cases are often guided by the insurance company’s internal policies and procedures, not by the individual facts of the case. So, when an insurance company adjuster offers to settle a case for an unreasonably low number, a jury trial will become necessary. By nature, jury trials are inherently risky. But the question is who stands to lose more? Inevitably, that answer is usually, the insurance company.

A jury trial sends a message to insurance companies about the tenacity of the lawyer and the lawyer’s belief in the client’s case. Therefore, work accident lawyers should not shy away from jury trials. Insurance companies absolutely pay attention to law firms that try cases and those that don’t.

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Pennsylvania & New Jersey Work Accident & Injury Lawyers

Our work accident and injury trial lawyers are licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but may accept cases in other states on a case by case basis. Our trial lawyers welcome calls from local counsel to discuss injury and accident cases. Call Click To Call for a free consultation about an accident and injury case.

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