The tragic collapse of a hotel under construction in New Orleans recently has renewed attention on the hazards faced by workers every day in Louisiana’s construction industry.

At least two workers were killed and more than a dozen more were injured when the Hard Rock Hotel under construction partially collapsed. Days after the disaster, city officials said one body had not yet been recovered from the wreckage, and there was still one worker missing and unaccounted for. Two large cranes on the construction site were damaged in the collapse and remained unstable, hindering search efforts.

As of this writing, officials said they did not know the cause of the collapse.

In the immediate aftermath of a terrible workplace accident, the first priority is to get medical attention to those who need it. Soon afterward, the workers and their families must begin to deal with the way the accident has turned their lives upside down.

Louisiana’s workers’ compensation system is designed to help injured workers and their families in the wake of an accident. It should pay for medical and rehabilitative care, and provide income to offset the lost wages during the worker’s recovery time.

Workers’ compensation has limitations. For workers who are permanently injured and will never be able to return to work, it may be necessary to sign up for Social Security Disability or other benefits programs in addition to workers’ compensation.

For fatal accidents, workers’ compensation provides benefits to the worker’s immediate family members.

When all goes well, an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider pays promptly, and the injured and their families get the benefits they need. Unfortunately, the system does not always work well. It can be important to have help from an experienced attorney. A workers’ compensation attorney can help with initial claims, organizing documentation, arguing on a worker’s behalf at hearings and more.