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A Legal Guide To Chronic Injuries In Construction

If you are a construction worker experiencing chronic back pain, hearing loss or lung problems, you might be wondering if you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries.

We will share the most common chronic injuries in construction work along with the causes for the conditions and the potential long-term effects.

We will also explain when you might be eligible to file a personal injury claim and what compensation you can pursue for your injuries.

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Bradford H. Bernstein

This article was written and reviewed by Bradford H. Bernstein, a second-generation leader at Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein, P.C., who has helped over 100,000 clients with immigration and personal injury issues. Brad joined the firm in 1993, became a partner in 1997, and assumed leadership in 2000 after Harry Spar retired.


What Is A Chronic Injury?

A chronic injury is a long-term or persistent health issue that develops due to repetitive motion, overuse or prolonged exposure to certain risk factors.

A chronic injury involves damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments or bones and can lead to ongoing pain, inflammation and impaired function.

Unlike an acute injury, which typically occurs suddenly as a result of an accident, a chronic injury develops gradually over time.

Chronic Injuries In Construction

Chronic injuries in the construction industry depend on the specific tasks you are performing on site and might lead to various long-term consequences.

Here are the most common ones:

Back Injuries

A construction worker who regularly lifts building materials might develop chronic back injuries over time.

A back injury is the damage sustained to the structures of the back, including the spine, muscles, ligaments and discs. Chronic back injuries involve persistent discomfort or pain and often affect the lower back.

The most common causes of back injuries in the construction industry include:

  • Frequent lifting of heavy objects
  • Improper lifting techniques
  • Prolonged periods of standing or bending

Long-term effects of chronic back injuries include:

  • Reduced mobility
  • Decreased work efficiency
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Herniated discs
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Long-term disability

Repetitive Stress Injuries

A construction worker who regularly uses a jackhammer without following ergonomic measures might develop a repetitive stress injury {RSI} in their arms.

RSI is a condition that results from repetitive and forceful movements or long-term exposure to certain activities. It can affect the muscles, tendons and ligaments in a person’s arms, hands, wrists, legs or other body parts.

The most common causes of repetitive stress injuries in the construction industry include:

  • Use of vibrating tools
  • Frequent use of hand tools
  • Walking or running on hard surfaces
  • Frequent climbing

Long-term effects of RSIs include:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Shin splints
  • Reduced functionality

Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome

A construction worker who regularly uses a drill without wearing anti-vibration gloves might develop hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

HVAS is a type of RSI that results from prolonged exposure to vibrations transmitted to the hands and arms during the operation of vibrating tools or machinery.

The most common causes of HAVS in the construction industry include:

  • Use of drills, sanders or chainsaws
  • Insufficient training on tool use
  • No breaks while operating vibrating tools

Long-term effects of HAVS include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Loss of dexterity in the hands
  • Permanent damage to arms and hands

Hearing Loss

A construction worker exposed to the noise of heavy machinery without using the proper hearing protection might experience hearing loss over time.

Hearing loss is the reduced ability to hear sounds, either partially or completely. It can range from mild to profound and might affect one or both ears.

The most common causes of hearing loss in the construction industry include:

  • Noisy environments
  • Consistent exposure to loud machinery and equipment

Long-term effects of hearing loss include:

  • Impaired communication
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Increased risk of accidents

Eye Injuries

A construction worker who frequently engages in welding without wearing protective eyewear might develop chronic eye injuries.

An eye injury is any damage to the eye or its surrounding structures that impairs vision or causes discomfort.

The most common causes of eye injuries in the construction industry include:

  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation
  • Exposure to intense light

Long-term effects of eye injuries include:

  • Damage to the eye structures
  • Pain
  • Irritation
  • Inflammation
  • Feeling of grittiness in the eyes
  • Loss of eyesight

Lung Problems As A Result Of Toxic Exposure

A construction worker involved in cutting concrete without using the proper respiratory protection might be at risk of developing lung problems due to toxic exposure.

Lung problems cover a broad range of conditions that affect the respiratory system and lung function.

The most common causes of lung problems in the construction industry include:

  • Inhaling dust, fumes or other airborne particles during cutting, sanding or demolition tasks
  • Exposure to toxic substances, such as asbestos and silica dust

Long-term effects of lung problems include:

  • Chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis or asbestosis
  • Progressive decline in overall health
  • Lung cancer

If you want to learn about construction injuries that occur as a result of an accident, read our recent article on the topic.

A construction worker using a heavy duty jackhammer​
Chronic injuries in construction are caused using vibrating tools, lifting of heavy objects and exposure to toxic substances​

Can You File A Personal Injury Claim For A Chronic Construction Injury?

Yes, in some cases you might have the right to file a personal injury claim for a chronic construction injury.

Given the chronic nature of the injury, the party at fault is typically the employer, as they bear the responsibility to maintain a safe work environment.

In many cases, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries, which means employees generally cannot sue their employers.

However, you might be eligible to file a personal injury claim if your employer failed to provide safety equipment needed for your job, such as goggles, ear protection or other personal protective equipment (PPE) and this contributed to your chronic injuries.

In your claim, you will need to prove that your employer violated the safety regulations and standards established by occupational health and safety authorities.

Due to the complexities of workplace injury laws and the challenges associated with suing an employer for chronic injuries, seeking guidance and representation from a reputable law firm can help you navigate the process.

With over 50 years of experience in handling personal injury cases, The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein has helped thousands of workers protect their legal rights after construction accidents.

Schedule a consultation with our tenacious attorneys and we will explain your options and next steps.

Were you injured at a construction site?

Contact Spar & Bernstein

Types Of Compensation For Chronic Injuries In Construction

Workers who suffer from chronic injuries on the job might be eligible for various types of compensation, depending on the circumstances.

Some of these include:

Workers’ Compensation

Although often associated with construction accidents, workers’ compensation can cover medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages, if you sustained chronic injuries on your construction job.

Workers’ comp is awarded regardless of fault but does not cover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

In addition to workers’ comp, you can file a personal injury claim which allows you to seek both economic and non-economic damages.

The types of damages you might pursue, and the worth of your case will depend on various factors including the severity of your injuries, the available evidence and the long-term effects of your condition.

Some types of compensation you might be eligible to in a personal injury claim include:

Medical Expenses

Workers with chronic injuries might seek compensation for medical expenses related to the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, surgeries, medications and ongoing medical care for managing the chronic condition.

Lost Wages And Future Earnings

Workers with chronic injuries might be eligible to compensation for lost wages due to time off work during recovery or ongoing treatment. When chronic injuries affect the employee’s ability to work in the future, they might seek compensation for their reduced earning capacity.

Pain And Suffering

Workers with chronic injuries might have the right to pursue compensation for physical pain and emotional distress impacting their quality of life.

Loss Of Consortium

Workers with chronic injuries might seek compensation for loss of companionship and intimacy if the injury impacted the emotional and physical relationship with their spouse.

A construction worker with earmuffs​
If you sustained chronic injuries on the job, you might be eligible to pursue various types of compensation​

Have You Suffered A Chronic Construction Injury? Contact Spar & Bernstein

Our experienced and compassionate attorneys at Spar & Bernstein are committed to helping people who are struggling with chronic injuries as a result of their construction job.

If you have grounds to believe that your condition is linked to your responsibilities and tasks on the construction site and want to know your rights, we have you covered.

Our legal team is well versed in construction accident law, including both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims. We address each case with utmost care and make sure to explore every type of compensation you might be eligible to receive.

We will assess the circumstances of your chronic injury, talk to medical experts to evaluate the worth of your case, prepare and file all needed documents within the legal deadlines and negotiate with insurance companies to win maximum compensation possible.

Looking for a construction injury lawyer?

Schedule a consultation