New Road Construction and Workers’ Safety amidst the Pandemic

How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim Benson and Bingham

Though Covid-19 has slowed down many industries in Northern Nevada, road construction has taken advantage of the slower traffic patterns in the Reno/Sparks area and seized this opportunity to expedite construction projects. However, during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, worker safety is top priority and new procedures have been established to protect them. How can Northern Nevadans protect themselves and get workers compensation if they were to sustain injuries or get sick on the job?

Road Construction Projects in Reno

As traffic began slowing down in Reno and Washoe County during the months of April, May, and June due to Governor Sisolak’s stay-at-home orders, the Nevada Department of Transportation approved the expediting of highway projects throughout Northern Nevada. Some of these projects include the Spaghetti Bowl Xpress project near Interstate 580 northbound, the Lakeside Project, as well as the road construction in Reno’s downtown and Midtown area. [1] The Spaghetti Bowl Xpress project construction will start with overnight lane reductions between Neil Road and the Spaghetti Bowl from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. nightly until Aug. 21. The construction will be accompanied by intermittent overnight ramp closures, which will be marked with detours.

The Lakeside Construction Project looks to replace sidewalks and curbs on McCarran Boulevard in Reno. [2] The $2.2 million project looks to decrease bicycle accidents and improve pedestrian safety by remarking bicycle lanes and crosswalks. Traffic will remain open in both directions, but officials are urging drivers to use extra caution when driving through the area, especially with regards to pedestrians, cyclists and construction crews.

Amidst this construction, the Nevada Department of Transportation reminds Nevada drivers to follow signs and markers when driving through construction zones to reduce the chance of a vehicular accident or collision with a construction worker. In the past five years, motor vehicle accidents in construction zones have caused four thousand deaths and two hundred thousand injuries. [3]. These are some procedures Washoe County drivers can use when driving through these zones:

  • Expect the Unexpected: Normal speed limits may differ, traffic lanes and pedestrian/bike lanes may have changed
  • Slow Down and Be Alert: Be wary of construction workers as well as machinery
  • Comply with the directions of the flagger
  • Obey posted Signs Until you have left the Area [4]
  • Be Aware of the Speed Limits: In Nevada, speeding in a construction zone has heavy fines. [5]

Worker Safety and Compensation During Construction

Along with regular safety procedures taken by construction workers, extra precautions are taken to protect workers from Covid-19. These procedures include wearing masks upon entry to the construction site, as well as pre-screening and respiratory illness screening before entering the site. [6]

So what happens if a construction worker is injured, or falls ill while on the job? Here are the procedures, specific to Northern Nevada and Washoe County:

In an Emergency, workers should seek immediate attention and get compensation later. In the case of a non-emergency, or if the emergency has passed, the worker must inform their employer of their injury and file a Form C-1 Incident Report within seven days of the incident. [7] Workers’ comp insurance pays for the medical care you need to treat a work-related injury or illness, but there are conditions to this.  Workers’ comp will only pay for care you receive from a medical provider who is on the official, state-approved, Panel of Treating Physicians and Chiropractors. The employer also needs to approve the medical provider, and one must confirm this with their employer before receiving any treatment.

The most important part of filing a claim is ensuring that all the paperwork is done properly. This decreases the risk of the claim being denied. When visiting the medical provider, it is important to fill out the Form C-4 Employee’s Claim for Compensation/Report of Initial Treatment. The first half of the form is the person seeking medical care’s responsibility. The medical provider or doctor is responsible for the second half of the form. If your injury prevents you from filling out the form, contact an attorney or trusted representative. [8]

You will be informed whether your claim was accepted or denied within thirty days of your filing. Your benefits can range from Medical Treatment to Compensation, Rehabilitation Services, or Dependent Payments if the victim is deceased. [9] If the claim is denied, Nevada Law allows for the appeal and review of the claim. At this time, it is often suggested to contact a lawyer for further assistance.

So how can a Workers Compensation Attorney help? Attorneys are better equipped to complete the paperwork and contact other parties involved in this process. They are also helpful when it is time to challenge or appeal the insurance company’s decisions and protecting the injured workers’ rights. Hiring an attorney can help avoid costly mistakes when filling out forms, and can convince insurance companies not to fight the appeal and simply pay out the benefits. [10]

Though Washoe County and much of Northern Nevadan businesses and industries have seen a slow down due to Covid-19, road construction has continued at full force. During this pandemic, and due to the nature of the job itself, it is important to ensure that protocols are in place to protect worker’s safety in construction zones. However, it is also important for Nevadans to know their rights if they were to be injured on the job, and be aware the proper procedures to receive workers’ compensation.

[1] https://thisisreno.com/2020/07/road-work-on-lakeside-drive-starts-monday/

[2] https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/resources/fhwasa03012/

[3] https://schneiderjobs.com/blog/driver/tips-for-driving-safely-road-construction-zones

[4]https://www.workzonesafety.org/files/documents/training/fhwa_wz_grant/artba_wz_safe_driving_brochure-508.pdf

[5] https://www.jjkellersafety.com/written-safety-plans?romocode=206616&gclid=CjwKCAjw4MP5BRBtEiwASfwAL1cbjfNNDG5TmbvVZsAuFX1eHDHW-imH7x5REZ3dSa0krqShhylhihoCKtEQAvD_BwE

[6] https://www.thehartford.com/workers-compensation/questions-answered

[7] https://www.washoecounty.us/humanresources/Benefits/workerscomp.php

[8] https://www.disabilitysecrets.com/resources/workers-compensation/am-i-entitled-workers-compensation-b

[9] https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/workers-compensation/when-should-hire-lawyer.html

[10] http://www.attorneys.com/workers-compensation/how-to-appeal-a-workers-compensation-denied-claim

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