Injuries sustained on a construction site are common, but construction employees can receive compensation for on-job-related injuries under the workers’ comp law. At The Workers Compensation Attorney Group, we will help you understand the strict guidelines involved when you are seeking compensation in Long Beach, CA, and help protect your rights against insurers or employers who are not willing to compensate you.

What Causes Most Construction Accidents?

A hazardous environment by any standard, construction sites have a high occurrence of accidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) research revealed that the average fatality in the construction industry is higher than the national average. The main causes, according to OSHA that are cited as hazards in the industry include:

  • Scaffolding
  • Fall protection
  • Excavations
  • Ladders
  • Head protection
  • Hazard communication
  • Electrical wiring, design, and protection

What happens to an employee who is injured while working on a construction site? There are instances where a construction worker will get hurt due to their own or their fellow worker’s negligence. For a compensation claim to be considered, an employee’s injury has to be work-related. This means that the construction worker was within a construction site, in a vehicle or other machinery related to the employer or company.

It could also have been that the employee was on other duties for the employer, not necessarily construction. Any injury that has therefore been sustained during the commission of responsibilities delegated to an employee by a construction employer counts as work-related.

What is the Workers' Compensation Law?

There are the mandatory state and federal insurance that provides coverage for employees in construction companies. This insurance policy covers only employees who are directly employed by the construction company. In the state of California, immigrant workers are also included in this coverage. An employee injured in a construction accident can recover damages ranging from medical bills, lost earnings, and any rehabilitation expenses even where they were partly to blame.

California labor laws demand that liability is not used to administer workers’ compensation after a work-related injury claim. There are benefits to the no-fault California pure negligence rules that apply in a construction workers’ injury compensation claim. Since the injury claim is not civil litigation, a construction employee forgoes great defenses that would have been used in the following claim. A construction worker can move against the employee in a civil suit for the injury, but the immediate concern of costs and recovery demands the services of a competent workers’ compensation attorney.

The Process of Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim

Workers’ compensation insurance provides coverage to construction employees in case of injuries and is mandatory in California. This service does not need the proof of fault or liability on the employer’s part for an injured worker to claim compensation. In simpler terms, the workers’ compensation has the advantage of payout whether the injured employee was at fault or not. The benefits, however, are never automatic and payment may fall below sustainable values as insurance adjusters, and company legal teams try to bring it down.

After the injured worker seeks medical attention and notifies their employer, of paramount necessity, would be the retention of an injury claims lawyer that specializes in construction accidents. This process is separate from the court litigation system as employees also waive the right to sue their employers. The settlement of benefits is also quicker in comparison with other legal routes that a construction worker may seek towards compensation.

Employers' Responsibilities

In normal circumstances, a claim is filed with the insurance provided by the employer on behalf of an injured construction worker. A copy of the claim form also goes to the Office of State Workers’ Compensation Board. The insurance company should send out an administrator to evaluate the claim. This process will lead to a summary communication with either the acceptance of the claim in total or rejection by the workers’ compensation insurance provider.

A grant of claims may also be given though it does not cover the claimant's expenses that arose from their work-related injury. If an employer has failed to provide their workers with any compensation coverage, they stand to face hefty fines and lawsuits that may lead to criminal charges.

The law also protects an employee who is claiming workers’ compensation from harassment or retaliation from the employer. A workers’ compensation lawyer will ascertain that an employer complies with this law by completing all the necessary forms.

Employee’s Responsibilities

Filling out the paperwork that is entailed in a workers’ compensation claim is the main activity of an injured claimant. A claim follow-up at the insurance adjusters is necessary while recording all details to facilitate a favorable benefit settlement further. All out of pocket expenses that may be incurred from meeting medical costs must be receipted and recorded, as well as proof that the injury has caused other inconveniences.

What to Do After Suffering a Work-Related Injury

Getting medical treatment

Depending on the type of insurance policy that provides coverage for a worker, they might need to see a consigned doctor when they are injured at work. This information is usually available with the construction site supervisor or line manager. If the diagnosis received from the company doctor leaves a worker unsatisfied, a second opinion from a different physician is allowed under California law. Injury Cases that might seem not to require immediate medical attention are also required by the Workers’ compensation law to obtain a physician's report for the claim process.

Notifying the employer

After sustaining a work-related injury and receiving treatment, the employer in construction must be notified in writing of the accident that resulted in a worker's injury. The employer provides a claim form that is triplicated with both the insurance provider and injured employee receiving a copy. The statute of limitations for notifying your employer is usually (30) days after the accident occurred.

All workplace accidents in the construction related field must be accordingly reported whether they’re immediately labeled as injurious or not. This is due to any development of complications later on after the deadline has expired. If the employer fails to provide an injured construction worker with a claim form to initiate the compensation process, the said form can be collected from your local California Workers’ Compensation Board or downloaded from their website.

Filing a Benefit Claim

This form requires information that includes the type of injury and areas of the body affected, with the time, location, and date of the damage. There also is a section where all the details of the parties involved in the accident and how the accident occurred are described comprehensively. Any medical treatment that an injured construction worker will have received must be conclusively detailed.

Should I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim or Sue My Employer?

The decision to file either a lawsuit or workers’ compensation claim will depend on specific factors leading to the accident. These will include; location of the accident, what instrument failed and who else was in involved in that or similar other accident. A workers’ compensation claim will suffice for simplistic injuries and where there is no merit to prove negligence.

If an implement fails or is found to have a weakness, such as a ladder or a cable that causes an accident, the subsequently injured victims can sue the item manufacturer or retailer according to California's strict liability laws. If the construction accident victim was at fault, comparative negligence laws in California enables them to proceed to litigation. Other parties that were negligently involved in the accident and equipment makers or sellers will be the defendants of a comparative fault construction injury lawsuit.

A 100% guilty scale is used by a California jury to allocate the blame determined per defendant. After the total amounting damages have been calculated, a victim receives the damages that are equivalent to the defendant’s percentage of negligence. This also means that the percentage of fault that a plaintiff is found to be will reduce their compensations by a similar percentage.

Construction Workers’ Injury Lawsuits

When a worker discovers that the amount offered by the company's insurer is below the expenses and costs of the accident, the workers’ compensation lawyer will file a third-party claim. This involves the process of establishing liability of other parties and removing the injured person from any responsibility.

An injury lawsuit in California entails a construction worker getting a workers’ compensation lawyer to go to great lengths of proving responsibility of another party for an accident. These lawsuits may involve parties that include the construction company, the compensation policy provider, a property owner, or equipment manufacturer.

Going at such lawsuits alone can result in the blame being heaped on an injured worker by the insurance and other defendants’ attorneys. This litigation that revolves around construction work can include crane accidents, defective equipment, and scaffolding falls.

What Are Third-Party Lawsuits?

Third party lawsuits are lodged against the respondent, whose negligence or liability is found to be responsible for a construction accident. It mainly seeks to solidify proof towards the responsibility for a construction site accident. The damages sought by the victim in a construction accident lawsuit also delegate the degree of complexity in a case.

A workers’ compensation attorney will know the best point at which to file a lawsuit due to injuries sustained in a construction site accident. The workers’ compensation lawyer is competent at filing claims even when the plaintiff is partly to blame for the accident.

Liability of an Employer

A personal injury claim is filed against the employer, other employees, or an item manufacturer that is found responsible for a construction accident. This option allows a work-related injury victim to seek compensation for the expenses that have resulted from the accident, including all medical costs. An injured construction worker who has been out of a job due to an injury can also claim lost earnings.

Both physical and psychological injuries are quantified during a lawsuit and can be awarded as damages for compensation. A construction injury lawyer seeks to prove that an employer was negligent since they owed their workers the duty of care. The accident must be determined to have been caused by this negligence, which resulted in the victim's injuries. Where negligence has been proven, the defendant stands liable for settling the damages to the injured worker.

Liability of an Employee

Negligent employees in a construction company can cause a site accident. An employee found to be negligent also stands to face liability in a construction injury lawsuit. The Respondeat Superior law can hold an employer indirectly liable for their negligence, which led to an employee getting injured.

What is Respondeat Superior?

This law is applicable in the instances where an employee causes injury upon a fellow worker while in the service of their employer. An employee whose negligence was related to an accident at work can blame the employer with a Respondeat Superior, which is a Latin terminology that translates to "let the superior make the answer."

Known as vicarious liability, the employer becomes liable for the negligence of an employee or agent. This is where the negligent misconduct occurred with the scope of the employee's job description and is known as a tort. A tort is a civil misconduct that can be remedied by law, and the uphill task here is proving that the negligent employee was in the employment's scope during the accident.

In the case that an employee is found negligent in causing a construction accident that results in a plaintiff's brain injury, the said employee won't have enough money to pay the damages which include lifelong therapy and care. The construction company, for whom the negligent employee was working for during the accident, is held vicariously liable to the losses incurred by the plaintiff.

Premises Liability

Owners of the site where an accident that caused a plaintiff's injuries took place can also be held accountable. Property owners owe a duty of care under the premise liability laws, and so do occupiers of the premises. This law mandates them to keep the premises that are under their ownership, occupation or control, free from unsafe and dangerous conditions. If a premises liability defendant neglected the maintenance or use of the property which then resulted in harm, a civil injury litigator for a personal construction injury seeks to link the negligent accident resulted in the plaintiff being injured.

A construction worker may have gone to a client’s home to make some repairs to the attic, but the owner had neglected to maintain the ladder, which then broke under the worker's weight. If the fall results in a back injury, the construction worker could sue the homeowner under premises liability. A few factors are worth noting when litigating for a construction accident with a claim against a negligent employee.

Vicarious Liability

A Workers’ compensation lawyer for construction accidents seeks to find out if the negligent employee has the intent to harm the plaintiff. An in-depth investigation is done by the lawyer involving the time, nature, and place that the employee's negligence caused the accident. There are also inevitable 'understandable' accidents that an employer or safety authority may expect an employer to cause.

If an employee’s negligence led to an accident beyond the limits imposed by an employer, or the amount of time allocated for the performance of duties, vicarious liability could be argued. The determination in Respondeat Superior, however, hinges on the establishment of the scope of employment that the vicarious employee caused the negligent accident.

Product Defects

Defective equipment or products can cause a construction accident that causes injury. The product liability law holds the manufacturers, designers, and retailers of equipment or construction mechanisms that fail accountable such as in a crane accident.  This liability is imposed even though the manufacturer or seller may not have been particularly negligent.

A work-related accident that is caused by product defects seeks to prove liability for manufacturing, design, and inadequate warning defects. Other product defects in the construction scenario may include:

  • Cutting tools or saws without proper protection
  • Leaking machines that cause fire or explosions
  • Faulty or defective ladders and scaffolding
  • Faulty heavy machinery
  • Improper safety warnings
  • Electrical devices that cause electric shocks or electrocution

In the case of machinery and other equipment defects, a thorough investigation of the accident causing component will reveal if the product failed. For example, if a crane snaps its cable while hauling a pallet of bricks over construction workers, and the resultant fall of blocks injures one worker seriously to require intensive and therapeutic medical services.

Once blame is ascertained to be from the crane’s defective cable, the manufacturer, supplier, or vendor is then held liable for the worker's injuries. Due to strict liability regulations for product litigation in California, the injured worker needs not to prove anyone was negligent.

What Form of Compensation Is Available in Construction Injury Lawsuits?

The defendants that will be held liable for a construction accident will depend on the parties involved and the occurrence scene. A property owner, another construction worker, or anyone that is part of the company faces damages if found negligent. A product defect is attributed to strict liability making the manufactures or retailer’s responsible for any injury it may cause. This includes an engineer who builds a product or an architect that designs it.

Money is compensated to an injured worker due to a construction accident that goes towards the monetary settlement of expenses and losses incurred. These damages are meant to reinstall a construction accident victim to as much normality as possible and are categorized into economic and non-economic costs.

Economic Damages

Economic damages in injury litigation will include all medical bills and any physical therapy with long-term care. Any medication and medical supplies that will be needed are in calculated with the loss of income and future complications.

Non-economic Damages

These are those that cannot be evaluated in monetary values when filing a compensation claim due to pain, suffering, and emotional distress or consortium loss. There may have been disfigurement or loss of limbs resulting from the construction accident, and this is listed under non-economic damages.

Punitive Damages

These occur when the degree of intention or reckless actions by a defendant to a construction accident is extreme.  Cautionary damages though not for victim compensation, serve to punish the extremely negligent or malicious activities and deter the repetition of the accident.

A Punitive damage claim in a construction related injury lawsuit will look for evidence towards the defendant’s malice and recklessness for instance if a defendant acted fraudulently or oppressive to the injury victim or intended to cause them harm. This view is commonly advanced by the plaintiff’s workers’ compensation lawyers under California Civil Code § 3294.

Independent Contractors

There are workers on a construction site who may be considered as independent contractors. Such an individual involved in an accident on the job can file a personal injury claim by a lawsuit against a third-party defendant. The same goes for a worker who may be injured by an independent contractor or defective equipment; the victim will sue the third-party owner, manufacturer, or contractor.

Can Family Members File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Construction Accident?

A wrongful death filing is done when a construction accident results in a fatality, or a victim later succumbs to their injuries. The victim’s immediate family members are accorded the responsibility of recovering damages from the employer and other third parties with the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer.

The lawsuit makes decisions based on claims of negligence, property owners, or defective product liability. Specific family members such as spouses, partners, children, or siblings, benefit from the damages by intestate succession laws of California.  The damages in this lawsuit are claimed for funeral or burial expenses, the loss of companionship and support, affection, and financial support from the deceased’s departure.

Contact a Construction Injury Attorney Near Me

An accident that has caused injuries to a construction worker can be very demanding. The workers’ compensation offered by insurance providers may not be able to meet the present and future expenses of the injured employee. The Workers Compensation Attorney Group in Long Beach, California, represents work-related injury claimants for fair settlements. For any construction injury-related questions and legal representation in a workers’ compensation case, get in touch with our Long Beach workers compensation lawyer today at 714-716-5933.