California has a no-fault workers compensation system that’s designed to benefit both employers and workers. When a worker is injured on the job, California’s workers compensation insurance allows them to quickly and easily receive compensation for their injuries without having to prove negligence. But when a worker accepts workers compensation benefits, they also give up the right to sue their employer or any co-employees. The fact that a worker gets compensation for their injuries quickly and easily is a benefit for them, while the fact that a worker cannot sue their employer for their injuries is a benefit for the employer.
So, in California, accepting workers compensation generally means you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer or any coworkers. However, this doesn’t necessarily take a personal injury claim or lawsuit completely off the table. If your injury was caused by a third party (meaning, by anyone other than your employer or co-employees), you may be able file a separate lawsuit against that third party.
Some common examples of situations in which a third party personal injury lawsuit could be appropriate include:
If a third party’s negligence or harmful actions contributed to a construction accident victim’s injuries, pursuing a personal injury case can allow the victim to obtain substantially more compensation they could through workers compensation. Whether or not a third-party personal injury case would be advantageous in your situation depends on the unique circumstances involved in your case. If you’ve been injured in a construction accident and you think a third party could possibly be responsible for your injuries, contact LA Lawyers Group. Our expert construction accident attorneys can help you better understand your situation and work to protect your best interests.
Modern day construction sites are complex operations that often involve numerous companies outside the construction company itself. As such, many people could potentially be held legally liable for a construction industry accident. Some example of potential defendants in a third-party construction accident case include:
When discussing defendants in a personal injury case, it's important to point out that California is a pure comparative negligence state. In essence, this means that more than one party can be found legally liable for an accident in California. When multiple parties are found to be responsible for an accident, liability will be assigned in percentages based on how much each party’s actions contributed to the accident. So, this means that the defendants in a third-party construction accident lawsuit could be a variety of parties, not just one sole person or entity. It also means that accident victims who are partially, but not entirely at fault for their injuries could still pursue damages through a personal injury claim or lawsuit. This damages would just be reduced proportionate to the victim’s percentage of fault.
While the majority of construction accidents involve employees, other people can also be harmed in construction accidents. For example, a pedestrian walking on a city sidewalk could be struck by a heavy object that falls from a construction scaffold. Another example would be if a motor vehicle driver got into a car accident because a construction crew placed barriers improperly.
When someone who is not a construction company employee is injured due to unsafe conditions at a construction site, that individual is not subject to the same restrictions an employee that accepted workers compensation would be. A non-worker construction accident victim is free to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against any potentially liable party, including a construction company, in order to pursue damages for the losses they’ve incurred due to their injury.
Construction accident injury victims may be able to pursue a wide range of damages from the party that is liable for their injury. In California, two categories of compensatory damages may be available in a personal injury case: economic compensatory damages and non-economic compensatory damages.
Some examples of economic compensatory damages include:
Some examples of non-economic compensatory damages include:
Notably, some of the damages listed above are not available through workers compensation. Workers compensation benefits can cover medical bills, lost wages, and/or permanent impairment. California workers compensation does not include compensation for non economic damages such as pain and suffering or disfigurement. A third-party personal injury claim or lawsuit can allow injured workers to be fairly compensated for these devastating types of losses.
Around one in every five worker deaths happen in construction. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the four types of construction accidents that are responsible for more than half of the construction deaths in the United States. These types of accidents, dubbed the Fatal Four by OSHA, are:
The category “caught-in/between” includes accidents in which a construction worker is killed when they are caught in or between equipment.
The Fatal Four are the top causes of fatal worker accidents on construction sites. Other common types of construction accidents (fatal and non-fatal) include:
Note that some types of construction hazards, such as explosions, instantly injure a person. Other types of construction hazards, however, may slowly cause damage over time. For example, a construction worker may get a respiratory disease after years of exposure to airborne irritants or toxins.
According to research conducted by the Center for Construction Research and Training, a construction worker with a 45 year career has a 1 in 200 chance of being fatally injured at work. Over this same career length, a construction worker has a 75% chance of sustaining a disabling injury at work. The high risk of death, serious injury, and permanent disability faced by construction workers on the job makes it one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States.
Serious at-work injuries are much more common among construction workers than they are at most workplaces. Some examples of the most common types of construction site injuries include:
Generally, a person has two years from the date of their accident to file a personal injury lawsuit in the State of California. However, there can be exceptions to this rule, such as in the case of a government entity’s involvement. If a government entity is involved in an accident, a plaintiff only has six months to file a personal injury lawsuit.
While an accident victim may have months or years to file an injury claim or sue, we generally advise against waiting for a long period of time to take legal action after a construction accident. When you seek legal counsel quickly, your attorney may be able to help you investigate the accident much more thoroughly and preserve valuable evidence that could greatly help your case in the long run.