Everything about Construction Accident
After a construction accident in San Bernardino, you will need to take time off from work to recover. Unfortunately, this will mean a loss of income while the bills pile up. Fortunately, you have compensation options.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim
Under California law, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Therefore, construction workers can file a workers’ compensation claim after a work-related injury, regardless of who was at fault for their injury.
Immediately after the accident, seek medical care and tell your doctor how you got hurt at work. Be sure to get a doctor’s note if you cannot return to work.
You have 30 days to report a work injury, but the sooner, the better. If you fail to do so within this time, you may lose your entitlement to benefits.
Notify your employer as soon as possible and give them a note from your doctor. Once you tell your employer, they should provide you with a workers’ compensation claim form.
File the claim form with your employer in person, by first-class or certified mail. Your employer should submit it to your insurance company and give you a copy.
Your employer’s insurer must authorize payment of up to $10,000 in medical treatment before your claim is accepted.
Temporary disability benefits must start within 14 days if you miss work, which is two-thirds of your pay.
The insurer will complete an investigation, and if they haven’t started paying by then, you should hear from them about needing additional information, or your claim may be denied. (Construction Accident)
Filing a Third Party Construction Injury Claim
If a third party, such as a contractor, subcontractor, engineer, property owner, etc., has contributed to your injury, they may be held liable.
In some construction accidents, a third party is also liable. When this happens, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit for additional compensation in addition to your workers’ comp claim.
If you believe another party was at fault, it is best to consult a construction accident attorney.
They can help you with your workers’ comp claim and have the resources to investigate the accident and determine who may be held responsible.
They’ll collect evidence, take eyewitness statements, collect documents and work with experts to build your case.
Once negligence is established on the other party’s part, they will handle all the paperwork related to filing your lawsuit and negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurer.
If necessary, they will prepare your case for trial if the insurer is unwilling to accept the compensation offered by you.
Who is responsible for construction accidents?
Liability for construction zone accidents is determined on a case-by-case basis. It will depend on the type of accident and its cause. (Construction Accident)
A driver may be liable
Many construction sector accidents involve motor vehicles. There are times when a driver’s actions cause an accident – for example, by driving distracted and hitting equipment or personnel or failing to slow down or stop in time when the vehicle in front of them has slowed down properly or stopped. In those scenarios, the negligent driver is responsible for the damages.
When the construction company may be liable
There are many situations when a construction company may be liable for a work area accident.
For example, an injured pedestrian or passerby can hold a construction company liable for an accident if they fail to take safety precautions during a Jobsite setup or if their equipment causes the accident.
Companies and site managers must keep work areas reasonably safe for workers and the public and warn of potential hazards.
Employees may be held indirectly liable for negligence. Some examples of specific situations when a company may be liable for a construction site accident include:
- Not putting up a warning board for the drivers passing through here.
- Drivers are confused by failing to show which lane is open for use.
- Failure to provide clear and legible directions for motorists may result in them avoiding the construction zone.
- Inadequate use of lights on construction vehicles and equipment to warn drivers of their presence at night.
- Illuminate the work area excessively or improperly, affecting the motorist’s vision.
- The construction area’s failure to clean and maintain is causing a dangerous roadway hazard.
Workers’ compensation law protects employers from suing for injury, except in limited circumstances —such as intentional damage, gross negligence, or failure to ensure workers’ compensation.
When a worker is injured in a construction zone accident, they can file a workers’ compensation claim with their employer regardless of fault.
However, if a third party, such as the driver, is also liable, they can file a construction accident lawsuit for additional compensation. (Construction Accident)
Who Determines Liability in a Construction Zone Accident
The insurance company of each party involved in a construction zone accident will investigate to determine fault.
A percentage of fault will be assigned to each party according to the degree of negligence or failure to exercise reasonable care.
Essentially, whichever party was more negligent would commit the majority’s fault. An adjuster will review the following to determine how or whether each party contributed to the accident.
Accident scene evidence
The adjuster will look at any available photos and videos of the accident scene that show where and how the accident happened, any property damage, the scene as a whole, the condition of any unsafe construction areas, road and weather conditions, injuries, etc. They will also review any available surveillance footage.
Law enforcement officials will give their opinion on how the accident happened and who was responsible.
They will also note whether there were any traffic violations. A police report at fault carries a great deal of weight in an adjuster’s decision. (Construction Accident)
Statements of eyewitnesses
Eyewitness accounts can be important because they provide unbiased and objective accounts of how the accident happened.
Medical documents can establish the extent of the injuries and that they are related to the accident.
If you disagree with the insurance company’s determination of fault, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit or possibly appeal.
Most injury claims are settled before trial, but if you take it to court, a judge or jury will determine who is at fault after hearing each side’s arguments and reviewing the evidence.
Types and types of compensation you can recover
Construction accidents cause a wide variety of injuries, which are often serious and have long-term effects.
Employees injured in the course of work can receive workers’ compensation benefits, but they can also seek further compensation if a party other than their employer is liable.
Common construction accident injuries
Any construction accident can cause a serious break or bone fracture, but it is more common when a worker hits the ground or falls from an object. Workers often require surgery, casts, physical therapy, and other ongoing treatments.
Explosions, machinery fires, and exposure to live currents or hazardous chemicals can result in serious burn injuries. (Construction Accident)
Traumatic brain injury
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are a primary cause of fatal and long-term disabilities. A TBI is often caused by a sudden impact or blow to the head, which disrupts normal brain function.
Spinal cord injuries
Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can vary in severity, with the most extreme cases resulting in paralysis.
Workers may require surgical intervention, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and other treatments and still live with chronic pain.
Loss of limb or amputation
A limb may be crushed or brutally damaged in a catastrophic accident, leading to amputation. As a result, victims may face permanent pain and lifelong disability.
internal organ damage
The impact of a construction accident or a body being thrown can damage internal organs. This type of injury can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. (Construction Accident)
Scars and deformities
Severe wounds, burns, and other injuries to the skin can cause significant scarring or disfigurement, resulting in a worker’s physical appearance being permanently altered.
When a construction accident causes the death of a worker, it is considered a wrongful death.
Therefore, the worker’s surviving family has a right to hold the guilty party accountable by making a wrongful death claim.
Types of Compensation You Can Recover for a Construction Accident Injury
After a construction accident, you can file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits that cover reasonable medical expenses and two-thirds of their lost wages.
Suppose a claim from a third party (e.g., property owner, contractor, equipment manufacturer, etc.) is possible.
In that case, you can file a personal injury lawsuit for compensation that exceeds the workers’ compensation limit. For example:
- Medical Expenses: Any current and future medical treatment not covered by workers’ compensation benefits.
- Lost wages: The difference between lost wages and benefits that do not pay workers’ comp benefits.
- Decreased Earning Capacity: If you cannot earn the same income as you did before the accident.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the pain you have suffered and any emotional distress (e.g., depression, anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, etc.), loss of enjoyment of life, disability, etc.
- Property Damage: If any personal property was damaged and needs repair or replacement (e.g., cell phone, appliance, clothing ).
- Loss of Consortium: A spouse can recover compensation for any loss of companionship, comfort, society, or sexual relations due to her injury.
- Wrongful death: When a construction worker dies, their surviving family members can recover funeral and burial expenses, loss of expected income, and other types of compensation.
Finally, punitive damages may be available but are generally only awarded in cases involving a defendant (the guilty party) who displayed egregious behavior or was grossly negligent.
Construction Accident Statistics in California
The construction industry is known to be inherently dangerous and poses a high risk of injury to workers.
In California, it is known as the second leading cause of death for construction workers, according to data from 2013 to 2019. (Construction Accident)
The facts about construction accidents in California
Data on general trends in occupational-related fatalities between 2013 and 2019 were included.
Construction was responsible for 17% of occupational fatalities, or 464 worker deaths, an average of six deaths per 100,000 workers.
- Of the 71 deaths in 2018, 29 were due to slip or trip and fall accidents.
- In 2019, construction fatalities increased from 71 in 2018 to 84.
- In 2019, 35 construction workers died due to falls, slips, or dizziness.
- Half of the occupational fatality falls were Hispanic workers.
- In 2019, 17 construction workers died in transport accidents.
- 13 construction workers were killed in accidents involving objects or equipment, as were 12 drivers or material-moving workers in 2019.
- Of the construction and extraction industry deaths, 11 were due to exposure to hazardous environments.
- The majority of construction injury victims in California are men.
Construction Injury Statistics in America
Across the United States, more than 1,000 construction workers died on the job in 2019 alone. The “fatal four” causes construction-related deaths, accounting for more than 60 percent.
- Falls: 33.5% of total construction deaths in 2019.
- Hit by object: 11.1% of total deaths in construction in 2019.
- Electric shock: 8.5% of total deaths in construction in 2019.
- Caught / in the middle: 5.5% of total deaths in construction in 2019.
Construction workers have a 1 in 200 chance of suffering a fatal injury over a 45-year career.
Nearly half of all workers killed in construction accidents are self-employed or work for a company with ten or fewer employees.
- Why construction accidents are common
- The primary contributing factors to construction accidents are:
- negligence (on the part of an employee, employer, colleague, or third party);
- unsafe working conditions;
- improper use of equipment or tools; And,
- Lack of protective gear.
When adequate safety training or safety gear (e.g., hard hats, eye protection, etc.) are not provided, warnings about hazards are not given, tools and equipment are not regularly inspected, and employees are not.
There is a failure to alert the driver of potential hazards and an increased risk of causing a fatal accident.
Although accidents happen even when all safety measures are in place, companies must provide regular health and safety training to their employees. (Construction Accident)
Construction accident liability
California employees or their surviving families cannot sue an employer for a construction-related injury or death.
This is because employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which provides benefits for work-related injuries or illnesses regardless of fault. However, there are some exceptions.
If, for example, the harm was caused intentionally by an employer’s actions or if it does not have sufficient workers’ compensation insurance to cover the injuries or death benefits, you can sue.
Most construction accident claims, including workers’ compensation, are filed against third parties.
Third-party or wrongful death claims can be made against any party other than the employer who contributed to the accident.
For example, a property owner, contractor, product manufacturer, maintenance company, engineer, or architect.
In these cases, an injured worker or surviving family may recover compensation for damages not covered by workers’ comp benefits.
Examples of unsafe working conditions that lead to workplace accidents
Being injured at work can be devastating not only for the injured person but also for their family. Sometimes workplace accidents are just that, accidents.
However, accidents at the workplace often result from unsafe working conditions and negligence.
It’s important to know what unsafe working conditions look like so that if you get injured, you’ll know you have a case.
Here are some different examples of situations that can lead to an accident in the workplace.
Poorly maintained work equipment
Depending on your work, you may need to use specialized tools to get the job done.
Whether you are a factory worker or a construction worker, you work in shipping and receiving or any other specialized field; you may have to handle heavy equipment.
Unfortunately, one of the most common causes of workplace accidents is poorly maintained equipment.
It is the responsibility of the owner of the equipment to ensure that it remains in safe working condition or to replace it once it becomes too worn. When business owners and managers fail to do this, employees are at risk of injury.
This also applies to faulty equipment. If a person knowingly allows employees to use damaged or defective equipment, he may be liable for injuries resulting from his negligence.
Too little light
Being able to see is an important part of any job. If you work in a poorly lit environment, it greatly increases the chances of an accident.
Even the most experienced and skilled workers can suffer a workplace accident if the workplace has poor lighting. (Construction Accident)
Lack of safety standards/failure to follow safety protocols
Almost every job has a set of safety guidelines that must be followed from the owner down to the lowest employee.
When these standards are not implemented or not enforced, they can lead to an unsafe work environment where the potential for accidents is high.
Many organizations exist to ensure that businesses not only have safety standards in place but that they continuously train their employees on them and continually stay in compliance.
Failure to properly train employees
Another problem many workplaces face is the lack of proper training for the job. If even one employee cannot do his job properly, it may endanger the safety of all other employees.
For example, an employee who does not know how to hold a tool properly can cause an accident where the tool falls or breaks apart and injures someone.
In these cases, it is the responsibility of the business to implement appropriate training to enable employees to perform their jobs safely and effectively.
Failure to maintain a clean workplace
Part of workplace safety is keeping areas where people work free of debris and potential hazards.
If a business does not have procedures to keep workplaces clean and safe, it can lead to unnecessary accidents and undue harm to employees. (Construction Accident)
What Damage Can Be Recovered In A Construction Accident?
You are entitled to compensation if you are injured in a construction accident, either as a worker or a bystander.
Depending on how the accident happened and which parties are responsible, the type and amount of damages you are eligible for may change.
It is important to start the claims process and get a personal injury lawyer immediately after the accident to get the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
What Damage Can Be Recovered In A Construction Accident?
Workers’ compensation for injuries at work
If you are involved in a construction accident at a work site, your first line of recourse for recovering damages is workers’ compensation.
You must file a claim similar to how someone would file a claim for home or auto damage with their insurance.
In this case, the amount of damages you can receive is usually limited based on what workers’ compensation will pay to the injured worker.
Filing a personal injury claim
You may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim after a construction accident if either you were injured as a result of negligence or even if you were on the job if you meet one of the following criteria: Let’s complete:
- Your employer does not carry worker’s compensation insurance
- A third party is responsible for your accident
- your employer acted in a way that proved to be malicious that caused you harm
- Your employer was grossly negligent, which led to the accident.
If you can file a personal injury claim, there are 3 types of damages you can be awarded.
Financial loss is the financial cost that a person suffers due to an accident.
These may include but are not limited to lost wages, lost ability to earn, medical bills, rehab, drug, and other recovery expenses, travel expenses, legal expenses, property damage, and other costs associated with the accident.
The court will usually accept copies of medical bills, pay stubs, repair bills, receipts, and other formal documents to prove these damages. (Construction Accident)
Emotional harm refers to an emotional trauma that a person suffers due to an accident, pain and suffering, lost relationships, and mental distress. If a person has to receive treatment, it can also be covered.
These damages are a bit more difficult to prove, but keeping a personal injury diary or obtaining professional testimony about the victim’s mental state is usually successful in obtaining these types of damages.
Punitive damages are damages strictly awarded by the court to the victim. The court may choose to award this type of damages to the victim when the party at fault is found to be grossly negligent, reckless, or malicious with intent to cause harm.
Punitive damages are added on top of other damages assessed and usually have a limit set by law or the court system. The court may do so at its discretion, and proof is not required.
What to do after an injury at work?
Being the victim of an accident at work is a terrible situation.
Even though it sounds hopeless, there are still some things you want to do to keep yourself safe and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your accident.
Here are 6 steps you should take after being injured in a workplace accident.
What do I do after a workplace injury?
Step 1: Make Sure You’re Safe
The first thing you should do after any injury is to ensure you are out of further harm’s way.
If you feel too injured to move or need assistance, it is a good idea to call for medical help, but the important thing is to make sure you avoid the same situations repeatedly.
Don’t get injured that caused your accident or someone else.
Step 2: Report the accident to the appropriate authorities
If you are in an accident at work, you must begin the process of reporting it as soon as it occurs.
You should notify the person in charge, a supervisor or foreman, and determine how you will be compensated.
In most cases, this may mean filing a worker’s compensation claim, but depending on the nature of the accident, you may need to take other steps.
Step 3: Seek medical attention and document your injuries
Once you’ve reported the accident, if you haven’t already, it’s time to go to the doctor or the ER and have your injuries looked at by a professional.
This serves two purposes. One is to know how badly you are injured and get the necessary treatment, and the other is to ensure your injuries are properly documented by a professional.
It’s also a good idea to remember that not all injuries surface immediately after an accident.
If you begin to notice new symptoms within a few days after the accident, it is time to go back to the doctor for more treatment and further documentation. (Construction Accident)
Step 4: Gather Information
It’s always a good idea to gather information about an accident, even if it happened at work.
You may have more than just a simple workers’ compensation claim if you notice a pattern of accidents.
If it is proved that your accident was caused by a third party or by gross negligence, you will likely have a personal injury case.
Step 5: File a Claim
Once you’ve gathered all the information you can and visualized your injuries, it’s time to file your claim.
Doing this as soon as possible is important because you may be on the deadline for how long you have to file your claim to get compensation. Once you do, the legal process begins, so be prepared.
Step 6: Retain a Lawyer and Don’t Talk to Anyone
Once you file a claim, it is time to get yourself legal representation. Not only will you need to be prepared for the legal battle, but there will also likely be people trying to contact you. Never settle out of court unless you are advised to do so.
Importance of Safety Training in the Construction Industry
No matter how large or small a company is, the health and safety of construction workers are a constant threat.
Without a basic understanding of proper safety practices, construction workers will be at greater risk of injury, illness, or even death.
Because construction is inherently dangerous, all companies must provide health and safety training to their workers and ensure that their training is updated regularly.
Here is a list of shocking construction death and injury statistics highlighting the importance of safety training in the construction industry.
Construction fatality statistics
- 1,001 construction workers died in 2019, accounting for one in five work-related deaths.
- The “deadly four” are the leading causes of construction deaths, accounting for more than 60 percent of all construction-related deaths:
- Falls – 33.5% of total deaths in construction in 2019.
- Hit by an object – 11.1% of total construction deaths in 2019.
- Electric shock: 8.5% of total deaths during construction in 2019.
- Caught in the middle: 5.5% of total deaths in construction in 2019.
- Of the 42 crane-related deaths, about 60 percent involved a falling object.
- Construction has the fourth highest rate of worker deaths of any industry, with 9.7 out of every 100,000 construction workers suffering fatal injuries.
- Over a 45-year career, a construction worker has a 1 in 200 chance of being fatally injured. (Safety and Health Magazine)
- Nearly half of all deaths on construction sites occur in companies with ten or fewer workers or self-employed workers.
Nonfatal Construction Injury Statistics
- There were 195,600 construction-related injuries in 2018.
- Of all industries, the injury rate in construction is 71% higher.
- Approximately 1.7 percent of construction workers each year miss work due to injury.
- 5% of work-related injuries in the construction industry result in lost work days.
- More than 25% of construction workers fail to report work-related injuries.
Cost of construction injuries
- Construction injuries cost more than $11.5 billion annually in the US
- Fatal construction injuries cost the United States approximately $5 billion yearly in health care, lost income, reduced quality of life, and lost production.
- $2.5 billion in annual workers’ compensation claims related to nonfatal falls.
- OSHA penalties for safety violations can range from $13,653 to $136,532. The highest recorded fine in 2019 in connection with a fatal fall was $1,792,726.
Most Common Safety Violations Cited According to OSHA
OSHA also ranks the ten most frequent safety violations at construction sites. These safety breaches caused the vast majority of nonfatal and fatal workplace injuries in 2019:
- inadequate fall protection
- unsafe scaffolding
- Inadequate Risk Communication Standards
- unsafe stairs
- inadequate respiratory protection
- Operated Industrial Truck Safety Violation
- Failure to control hazardous energy (lockout or tagout violation)
- inadequate fall protection training
- Inadequate machine guarding and unsafe machinery
- Inadequate face and eye protection
Safety training is essential for the industry because of the number of preventable construction-related deaths and injuries.
According to OSHA, construction companies that invest in safety and health programs are estimated to save $4 to $6 for every $1 spent on training.
California’s Statute of Limitations on Construction Accident Claims
The statute of limitations is the time a person has to file a lawsuit after a construction accident. If you don’t file a claim before the deadline expires, you lose your right to do so.
How long do I have to file a construction accident claim in CA?
In California, the statute of limitations for construction accident claims varies depending on the cause of action. (Construction Accident)
Most lawsuits would have a two-year time limit from the date of the injury unless it were related to asbestos exposure, in which case you’ll only have one year.
In some circumstances, the statute of limitations may be “tolled” or suspended. That is, the time limit will not start running for a specific time. The statute of limitations can only be invoked if:
- Injury not discovered until much later (discovery rule)
- the accused is out of state
- A minor claimant (under 18 years of age)
- mentally retarded or legally unsound
- in jail
Cases involving tolling are complex and require an experienced construction accident attorney to determine whether you can still file a lawsuit.
Once the tolling situation ends, the statute of limitations begins to run or restart. For example, a two-year statute of limitations will start running on an injury.
California statute of eases
The statute of limitations and the statute of limitations, while similar, are different.
California has two statutes of ease, in addition to the statute of limitations, which only affect construction defects cases against builders, designers, and others involved in construction.
The four-year time limit applies in the first place for cases where injuries result from manufacturing defects relating to the design, planning, specifications, supervision, observation, survey, construction, or improvement of a property.
The statute may also apply to patent defects, which are obvious mistakes made by contractors who fail to inspect the property.
If the injury accident occurs in the fourth year after the completion of the project, the suit should be filed within one year from the date of injury.
The second statute imposes a 10-year time limit for latent defect claims after a project is completed. Latent defects are generally defined as defects that are not immediately apparent upon inspection.
Legal action must be brought within both applicable periods, under the statute of limitations and the statute of limitations.
Thus, once the defect or injury is discovered, the two, four, or 10-year limitation period begins to run but does not extend until the end of the grace period.
Extent of damage
California follows the rule of pure comparative fault, which means you can still recover compensation even if you are partially at fault for a construction accident.
For example, you’re awarded $20,000 after a faulty piece of equipment exploded, and you were 60 percent at fault.
You can still recover 40 percent ($8,000) of the settlement from the product manufacturer or seller.
We hope you like our article on Everything about Construction Accident.
Thanks for visiting US Map of State