In any construction accident that results in injuries, there are two potential avenues of recovery.
First, there is workers’ compensation. Simply put, worker’s compensation is designed to get an injured worker quick monetary relief for medical bills and the loss of wages during a recovery period. In exchange for an easier road to compensation, the worker agrees to forego the right to sue his or her employer for any injuries caused by the employer’s negligence.
Second, there may be the potential for what is known as a third party lawsuit. A construction site is a busy and somewhat chaotic place. There are contractors and subcontractors. There is a great deal of equipment and tools lying around. Additionally, some entity other than the general contractor owns the property the site sits upon. Any one of these various entities or their employees could have caused or contributed to an accident that has caused injuries. If this is the case, an injured party could sue the parties responsible for their injuries in addition to pursuing a workers’ compensation claim.
Obviously, this can be a very complex legal situation. Because of this, it is very important that you hire an experienced construction accident attorney to help you navigate the sometimes confusing and overwhelming path to compensation and recovery. The preservation of evidence in a construction site injury is extremely important, due to the ever-changing nature of a construction site. If you do not immediately hire a construction accident attorney, critical evidence that you may need to prove your case may be gone forever, and with it, your chance for full financial recovery.
In this article, we’ve assembled some of the most frequently asked questions about construction site injury litigation. The answers to these questions will help you gain an understanding of the processes at work in the typical construction injury case. They will also give you an overview of the recovery options that are available.
“What are the most common construction site injuries?”
The very nature of any construction site lends itself to a wide variety of injury types. The most commonly represented injuries include inadequate scaffolding assembly and maintenance, electrical accidents, design defects, falls, falling objects, crane accidents, and failure to warn of dangerous trench or step. There may also be cases where unsafe equipment was involved, including defective tools, poorly maintained tools, and faulty equipment.
“If I was working on a construction site and was injured, can I sue?”
As a general rule, you can’t sue your employer for an accident that happened on a construction site, because you’re already covered under workers’ compensation. However, due to the nature of construction hierarchy, if the negligent party to blame for your accident was someone other than your employer (such as a general contractor, subcontractor, property owner, etc.) then you may have the right to sue them to recover for your injuries. The often complicated construction hierarchy is a very good reason to consult with a construction accident attorney to be sure you’re getting the compensation you deserve, above and beyond your workers’ compensation.
“Can I file a lawsuit for all construction site injuries?”
The short answer is no. Even though construction site injury cases tend to be more complicated than other personal injury cases, the liability still rests on the person or company that was negligent. In the case of a construction site injury, the best way to prove negligence is to demonstrate that the person or company didn’t follow OSHA regulations and/or job site rules, safety concepts, or local ordinances and regulations at the site.
Even if you can’t prove who is at fault, you will often still be entitled to a workers’ compensation claim, because such a claim is not dependent on proving negligence.
“If I was injured in an accident on a construction site, can I only claim workers’ comp?”
Not necessarily! A workers’ compensation claim is only one way for you to recover damages for your accident. You may also be able to file a lawsuit against the person or company whose negligent actions caused your injury. It may also be possible to file a claim against the premises insurance policy and private disability insurance plans. So the amount you’re able to recover isn’t limited to the workers’ compensation maximum allowable.
Your compensation will likely be reduced by the right to reimbursement exercised by the various insurance companies, but a knowledgeable construction accident attorney will be able to reduce the reimbursement amounts to the very minimum so that you receive the compensation you deserve.
“What is a third-party claim? Am I allowed to file third-party claims?”
A first-party claim is against an insurance policy for your own benefits, such as your private insurance, or workers’ compensation. A third-party claim is a lawsuit against someone other than your own insurance or workers’ compensation, and these types of claims do not have the same limitations as far as compensation is concerned. However, with a third-party claim, you must prove negligence.
You may be entitled to file third-party claims against general contractors, subcontractors, owners of the property you were on, and/or tool and machinery manufacturers.
“What types of construction accidents are covered by California law?”
There are several statutes in place in California that are specifically designed to protect individuals working on construction sites. At the state level, you have the California Labor Code, California Code of Regulations, and the Appellate Court. Locally, there are building permit regulations and job safety requirements as well as safety contracts between the contractors and the job developer. All of these safety rules and regulations can be helpful in showing negligence in the case of an accident and subsequent injuries.
“Who is responsible for construction site safety?”
Everyone involved at a construction site is ultimately responsible for safety at the site. The contractors, subcontractors, property owners and equipment operators are all responsible for creating and maintaining a safe work environment. Determination of negligence and who was at fault in an accident is of extraordinary importance to a construction site accident attorney.
“What are OSHA and Cal-OSHA?”
OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is a federal government agency that has set standards to help prevent workplace accidents. OSHA regulations are very helpful to a construction site accident attorney in determining whether someone was negligent.
Cal-OSHA is OSHA at the state level. It upholds additional standards and regulations, many of which are even more strict than Federal OSHA regulations. Cal-OSHA provides more protection for job site workers, as they have stricter limits on chemical exposure, stricter ergonomic safety standards, and requires permits for many excavations deeper than five feet, as well as permits for demolition and high scaffolding construction.