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Given the growth in San Bernardino’s population over the last decade, plenty of new construction takes place in our area, as well as rebuilding already developed areas, refurbishing, and retrofitting. But what if you or a loved one was hurt or killed in a construction accident?
Tragically, injuries and deaths due to construction accidents are all too common.
If you are a San Bernardino construction worker hurt or otherwise harmed in a construction-related accident, please give the Gomez Trial Attorneys a call. Construction accidents can cause great harm, and all too frequently can affect your livelihood for the rest of your life. Do not face the situation alone.
We are committed to helping you and your family obtain just and fair compensation and letting you get back to work. We have experience in these types of cases, and our personal injury attorneys and staff will help walk you through the process. We are dedicated to getting you the best result possible. Contact a San Bernardino construction accident attorney at Gomez Trial Attorneys today.
Approximately 4,779 workers were killed on job sites of all types in one recent year, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). By far the largest number of these fatalities, more than 21 percent, are in the construction sector. In other words, more than one out of every five work-related fatalities occur on construction sites.
The number of accidents on construction sites is even larger. Workers can suffer harm from falling, open wires, obstacles and debris on the site, and trucks bringing materials. There are a host of other things that occur on busy and often undermanned or unsafe construction sites.
You have only to think of the average construction site to realize that they are often far more dangerous than the average workplace. Workers often operate at great heights in areas without walls or other barriers than protect them from falling. Electrical wiring is often not yet finished, and an improperly maintained site may feature debris and obstacles that pose a danger to workers trying to work at a sufficient pace to keep their jobs. Heavy materials can topple and injure workers. Delivery trucks and moving equipment can cause injuries.
Conditions themselves can pose dangers to workers. Sawing and other construction activities can fill the air with dangerous particulates that can lead to respiratory problems. Long-term hearing loss can occur if workers do not have proper safety equipment.
The urgency of construction also adds to the potential for harm. Construction firms and contractors may feel that proper protective equipment and safe procedures are time-consuming, costly, or both. They may attempt to cut corners, leading to disastrous results for the workers.
In many sites, subcontractors are responsible for part or all of certain jobs. Different standards or lack of communication between multiple subcontractors may contribute to or cause accidents as well.
While many types of construction-related injuries occur, enough accidents of certain types occur to have earned the phrase “Fatal Four.”
These are the most common types of accidents on construction work sites.
The Fatal Four account for more than 58 percent of construction worker deaths. Yet, many other types of accidents occur on construction sites.
The most common injuries caused by construction accidents are:
Injuries such as SCIs are often referred to as catastrophic because of their immediate and severely negative impact on a person’s life. Why? A severe SCI could result in paralysis. An SCI victim could no longer perform the activities of daily life, such as dressing or washing. A paralyzed construction worker may never return to their former occupation.
In other words, construction accidents are doubly and even triply harmful. First, the worker is injured and in pain. Second, they may not have the ability to return to work and earn money. Third, they may suffer from financial stress as a result. They may fear that they cannot pay their bills, including medical bills, after their injury.
Obtaining compensation is the right of construction accident victims if the accident is the fault of another party, such as a construction firm, a subcontractor, or an equipment manufacturer.
But, obtaining fair and just compensation for construction accidents can pose complications for victims.
Under California law, all employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance. This is true even if the firms are small; they apply to companies with just one worker. The employer pays for workers’ compensation insurance, not the worker.
Workers’ compensation is designed to compensate workers for on-the-job injuries, without regard to who or what was at-fault. In other words, if you are injured on the job, workers’ compensation insurance should cover you. You do not have to prove someone else was at-fault or prove you bore no fault.
Workers’ compensation covers:
Unfortunately, however, what the law says and what actually occurs in workers’ compensation are often two separate things.
Insurance companies may serve their own financial well-being instead of the well-being of injured people. If it helps their bottom line to deny or minimize your workers’ compensation claim, they may do so. This does not mean you do not deserve the benefits. But, the process of filing for workers’ compensation is complicated. You must report your injuries within a certain time window, make sure the medical care you receive is approved, file claims, and make sure your doctor files the appropriate forms as well.
Violations of the time window or failing to follow the appropriate procedure can constitute grounds for denial or dismissal of a claim. Because it is in their financial interest, insurance companies may actively look for a reason to deny a claim.
The pressure of the injury, financial and emotional stress, and the fear of not working can all combine to make the procedures seem even more complicated than they are.
Consulting us on a workers’ compensation claim is a smart move. First, we could help you navigate the process, completing all the steps. Second, if your claim is delayed or denied, we can appeal. We can break the logjam on delays, and appeal a denial. Third, we can negotiate with the insurance companies, because we know the process and the strategies insurance companies often use to save themselves money.
Workers’ compensation does not rely on any determination of responsibility for the accident. But there is an important trade-off. Workers’ compensation doesn’t usually cover noneconomic damages.
But, note that workers’ compensation means you cannot sue your employer for noneconomic damages related to the accident.
Employers are rarely the only parties that cause construction accidents. If a party other than your employer arguably led to or caused the accident, you may retain the ability to seek compensation from them through a lawsuit.
Injured people can bring personal injury lawsuits against parties whose negligence caused the accident. Negligence is a failure to act with the proper duty of care. The duty of care includes safe and prudent behavior, use of equipment and materials, and following adequate safety protocols.
Negligent parties can be liable (financially responsible) for injuries and other harm directly caused by the accident.
Other parties potentially responsible for the accident include:
If you pursue a construction accident lawsuit against another party, you may seek compensation under California law for:
Unfortunately, some people die in construction accidents, either immediately or as a later consequence of their injuries.
If that occurs, California law provides that certain family members can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against negligent parties, as long as they are not the employer. Workers’ compensation provisions do not allow suits against employers. Family members should speak to an attorney about potential eligibility for a death benefit claim under workers’ compensation.
A wrongful death suit is possible if the worker could have brought a personal injury suit in court had they lived.
Compensation could include:
Wrongful death claims can only be pursued by certain family members, as follows.
If you are hurt in a construction accident, you are not alone. Construction sites and areas constitute some of the most dangerous workplaces in the U.S. In fact, one out of every five deaths on the job occurs in the construction sector, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It is one of the few types of workplaces to have a cluster of accidents referred to as the “Fatal Four“ (falling, struck-by objects, electrocution, and caught-between accidents).
However, if you suffer injuries or harm in a construction accident, the wisest step is to consult a personal injury attorney with experience in construction accident cases. The Gomez Trial Attorneys can assess your case and help determine whether workers’ compensation or a personal injury suit can help you receive just and fair compensation. Call us for a free consultation.
Construction accidents can pose complications for hurt workers. One of the complications is the potential severity of injuries from such an accident. Workers can suffer temporary or permanent disability, may experience pain and lack of motion, and may not be working and earning a steady income.
Another complication is that there are two potential avenues to receiving just compensation for your injuries in California. The first is workers’ compensation and the second is a personal injury suit in civil court. Below, we discuss each in turn.
Workers’ compensation. California law requires all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of size. Even if your company has one worker, it should have workers’ compensation. Temporary and part-time workers may receive coverage as well.
Employers pay the premiums for workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation compensates workers injured on the job for medical bills, income during the recovery period, and specific other related payments such as temporary or permanent disability if the injuries render you unable to work at a former occupation. Medical expenses related to the injury are payable whether you miss time from work or not.
Workers’ compensation also provides benefits for retraining if workers cannot work at their former occupation due to their injury. If a worker is killed on the job, their family could receive a death benefit under workers’ compensation.
Under workers’ compensation regulations, all of these benefits are provided without reference to any fault for the accident. You do not have to prove that your employer was at-fault, nor will workers’ compensation representatives (or your company) try to prove that you were at fault.
But, filing for workers’ compensation comes with several levels of complication.
First, you need to tell your supervisor right away or, if the issue is an illness that developed slowly, when you first realize you were made ill from conditions on the job.
Second, you need to file specific forms with workers’ compensation insurance and with your company, see approved medical personnel, and do all of it within specific time periods. Even if you need emergency treatment, the employer may require that certain providers give such treatment.
Workers who suffer injuries on the job may feel overwhelmed by the injuries or the trauma, and either fail to complete the required tasks or do them later than required. They may not realize that they need to be done.
Third, you need to keep filing specific forms if the injuries prevent you from working. At specific points, doctors must certify your condition.
Fourth, the California Department of Industrial Relations may ask for more information about your claim. Providing information may be complicated and time-consuming.
Fifth, workers’ compensation claims are sometimes denied. In some instances, the reasons for denial may seem relatively trivial, such as the improper completion of a form. In other instances, a claim may receive a denial for substantive reasons, such as conflicting evidence about the injuries sustained.
You can appeal denied claims. The appeal process can be complicated. We understand it.
Consult us. Our lawyers know the requirements and can help complete the forms properly and on time. We advise injured people and their families about the best way to proceed. We can appeal denied claims.
We can also negotiate and help you and your family navigate the process. Delays, denials, and appeals can also add financial and emotional stress in an already trying time.
Some delays and denials, unfortunately, may serve the interests of the insurance company rather than the injured person. The fact is, insurance companies are for-profit institutions. Even workers’ compensation insurance carriers may try to maximize their bottom line at the expense of injured workers. A lawyer is someone on your side. Rather than the insurance company trying to minimize your benefits, an attorney can advocate on your behalf.
A personal injury suit in court. Workers’ compensation never relies on any determination of fault. But injured workers and their families should realize that the absence of responsibility to prove fault comes with a price: Injured workers cannot bring a lawsuit for noneconomic damages even if the company clearly caused the accident.
Construction sites are often dangerous. Companies or other parties on the site, such as subcontractors, may press their workers to finish quickly, meaning that important safety precautions are overlooked. They may also ignore or minimize safety precautions for other reasons.
But, if parties other than your company bear responsibility for the accident, you may potentially bring a lawsuit against them for the damages you suffered. Workers’ compensation provisions cover only your employer.
Lawsuits in these cases also generally depend on negligence. Negligence is a breach of the duty of care owed to someone. Subcontractors and their employees on a construction site, for example, should follow the law, adhere to accepted safety and procedure protocols, and engage in prudent behavior. Their workers should receive adequate training and supervision. The failure to do any of these things may arguably constitute negligence.
Negligent entities become financially responsible for the injuries and other harm their actions (or inactions) cause. In other words, a negligent party can be held responsible for financially compensating people for the harm caused by their actions.
The following are potentially negligent parties on a construction site.
Under California law, injured parties can bring a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.
In the suit, you could seek damage compensation for your injuries in the categories below.
Construction accidents all too often cause fatalities. While all the discussion so far has centered around injured individuals, if your loved one died in a construction accident, you might be wondering whether you have any recourse.
The law recognizes that family members undergo not only grief and sorrow when a loved one dies, but also experience profound emotional and financial loss. As a result, California law allows certain family members to bring a specific type of lawsuit, called wrongful death, if a deceased person would have been able to bring a personal injury suit had they lived.
Workers’ compensation can potentially provide death benefits. But bear in mind that, like personal injury suits, one cannot pursue a wrongful death claim against an employer if they have filed for workers’ compensation.
Family members could seek the following in a wrongful death suit.
California law allows only specific family members to bring wrongful death suits. They are:
Lawyers can prepare, bring, and argue cases in court, as well as assisting accident victims throughout the workers’ compensation process and helping to appeal denied claims.
But, lawyers also provide helpful services to accident victims.
First, the determination of negligence for an accident, if the victim pursues a lawsuit, depends on evidence. This should include evidence of how the accident happened and the nature and extent of injuries. The worker may not fully understand or recall how an accident happened, particularly if they were rendered unconscious or experienced trauma.
Not only that, but accidents may initially look as if one factor caused them, while an investigation reveals other causes. A fall might look like worker carelessness, for example, until an investigation shows that shoddy materials have given way.
Lawyers work with investigative teams that can investigate the causes of the accident, and compile specific evidence.
Evidence can include:
Second, the victim may not possess knowledge of how much compensation they can receive, or of what categories of compensation are available. A lawyer can explain all of that.
Law firms can also help determine the amounts to ask for in claims. Generally, economic damages such as medical bills, wages lost from work, and property damage are arrived at by adding the amounts together.
But more subjective damages, such as pain and suffering, are more complicated. Pain and suffering damages generally depend on the severity of the injury, the likelihood of full recovery or disability, and the overall effect on the victim’s life, including the ability to return to paying work and activities the person enjoys.
A personal injury lawyer can negotiate effectively for the fairest amount possible. Without their negotiations, victims and their families may receive only the bare minimum for pain and suffering.
Third, insurance companies often feel a financial incentive to minimize, delay, or deny legitimate claims. The less they pay victims, the more they enhance their bottom lines. Lawyers are experienced in the strategies they use, and can effectively counter them.
One common strategy, for example, is to argue that the victim is not hurt in the way they say, or that they are hurt less seriously than they claim. The less medical intervention they require, after all, the fewer medical bills the insurance carrier needs to pay. Lawyers can use medical records, eyewitness testimony, and expert physician testimony to counter attempts to minimize payment.
Contacting our experienced San Bernardino attorneys can relieve some of the pressure associated with navigating through the legal system. This is especially true when you simultaneously try to rebuild your life and recover from your injuries.
After a construction accident, victims and their loved ones can experience pain, stress, and trauma. Do not go through it alone. A construction lawyer, like those at Gomez Trial Attorneys, can help.
The Gomez Trial Attorneys fight for justice on the part of injured construction workers. If you or a loved one is injured or otherwise harmed in a construction accident, contact us today at 833-GET GOMEZ (833-438-4663). We are here to help. Our first consultation is always free.
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