Your employer is required to take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of employees, but some industries are inherently dangerous. Construction is one of them. That being said, should an injury occur, it is important to understand your legal rights and employer responsibilities in a construction accident.
Michael Henderson has handled countless California workplace claims and has over 25 years of experience advocating for injured employees. Henderson Law has secured tens of millions of dollars for injured clients in Santa Rosa and across the state. Contact us to schedule your free case consultation.
Construction Industry Injury Statistics
The construction industry is inherently dangerous. Some of these recent statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration may help paint a picture of just how dangerous it can be.
- A total of 1,008 construction workers died while working in 2020.
- Construction workers make up 6% of the U.S. workforce but accounted for approximately 16% of employee deaths in 2021.
- Falls, being struck by equipment, electrocutions, and being caught in-between objects make up the leading causes of construction deaths.
- Specifically, fall accidents cause 34% of all construction deaths.
- In 2020, injury and illness rates in the construction industry were 24% higher than in all other industries.
- Construction worker injuries account for 6% of all injuries requiring employees to take time off work.
- Of the 10 most frequent citations issued by OSHA, four of them are specific to the construction industry.
If you have been in a construction accident in California, it is important to reach out to experienced legal counsel to help identify employer liability in a construction accident.
California Workers’ Compensation
There are so many things that can go wrong at a construction site. Most California employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for all full-time employees. Benefits you may be entitled to include the following:
- Medical treatment for your injury or illness;
- Temporary disability benefits (up to 104 weeks);
- Permanent disability benefits if your condition will not improve enough for you to return to work;
- Supplemental job displacement benefits to provide training and help you find new or modified work if you can work in some capacity but cannot do your previous job; and
- Death benefits if a person dies as a result of their workplace injury or illness.
Your individual benefits will depend on the nature and severity of your injury or illness.
Construction Accident Liability
The specific circumstances of your injury could make a big difference in your legal strategy and the amount of damages you can recover. One of the biggest benefits of workers’ compensation is that construction accident liability is not a factor. It does not matter whose fault the accident was for the purpose of receiving workers’ compensation benefits. This “no-fault” structure was implemented to allow employees to recover and heal even if they were partially responsible for the accident. It was also implemented to minimize the number of construction and other workplace injury cases overburdening our court system. In most cases, employer liability in a construction accident will not be relevant to your workers’ comp claim.
Employer Responsibilities in a Construction Accident
California employers are required to provide a healthy and safe workplace for all of their employees. The law also requires employers to have a written injury and illness prevention program (IIPP) as established by the California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973.
To receive workers’ compensation in California, you will need to meet all filing deadlines, and so will your employer.
The first step is to make sure your employer is formally notified of your injury or illness within 30 days of the date it occurred or should have been known under Cal. Labor Code § 5412 (2022). Much of the administrative work falls under employer responsibilities in a construction accident. Here are some of the things your employer can be expected to do:
- Provide you with a workers’ compensation claim form within one working day after you report the work-related injury or illness;
- Provide a copy of your completed workers’ comp form within one working day of receipt;
- Forward the claim form, along with their report, to the claims administrator within one working day of receipt;
- Authorize up to $10,000 in medical treatment within one working day of receiving the claim; and
- Provide light duty or “transitional” work if appropriate.
If your injury results from a crime that occurred at work, the employer is responsible for providing notice of workers’ compensation within one working day of the crime.
When Can You File A Workplace Injury Lawsuit Against a Third Party?
There are a handful of circumstances where negligence does matter. If a third party caused the accident, you might be able to file a lawsuit at the same time you are pursuing a workers’ compensation claim. Let’s look at some common liable third parties in construction accident cases.
Contractors and Subcontractors
Depending on the project, your employer’s company may not be the only one on-site. Other companies may not adhere to strict safety standards, or they may be otherwise responsible for your injuries.
In California, you can only hold the property owner liable for your injuries if they demonstrated willful misconduct or lack of reasonable care in managing the property. If they knew of a potential hazard to construction workers and did not attempt to remove or warn of the danger, they may share in the liability.
If a defective piece of equipment, tool, scaffolding, or other necessary components of the job caused your accident, you might be able to hold the manufacturer responsible.
Other Employee Action
If a fellow employee who intended the harm caused your injury, you might be able to hold them personally liable. If the accident was a mistake made during work, it might fall under the “no-fault” workers’ comp system.
Can an Attorney Help?
There are a lot of nuances to workers’ compensation law. Though some claims are straightforward and granted with relative ease, many others can face claim denials and unfair settlement offers, and some have to go through the appeals process. It is important to know your rights so that you get the compensation you need to get back on your feet.
The team at Henderson Law understands how difficult and confusing this time can be. We can help you understand the process so you can make the best decisions for your situation. Do not settle for less than what you deserve. Contact us today to speak with a construction accident attorney.