If you or someone you love has recently been seriously injured in a construction accident, you should waste no time exploring your options as to compensation. For the large majority of construction industry workers in California, our state’s workers compensation insurance program will cover their injuries to help them recover, get back to work, and come out of it all on two solid “financial feet.”
We at Workers Compensation Attorney Law Firm are dedicated to ensuring you collect your largest possible settlement and get all the benefits that the law entitles you without undue delay. We have the tools, resources, experience, and dedication to excellence it takes to get the job done! The sooner you act, the better. Day by day, new medical bills and seemingly mountain-high expenses keep piling up, and it can take days, weeks, or months to get through the workers' comp process. That’s why legal representation is so critical in this practice area: because the complexity of the system can be imposing to the inexperienced - and you need reimbursements now.
Contact us today by calling 888-888-8888 for a free workers comp consultation. You can call us anytime 24/7, 365 days a year. We will take the time to understand your situation and guide you into making the most beneficial decision.
Here are 20 of the most frequently asked questions (along with the answers) in regard to how workers’ compensation claims in California relate to the construction industry specifically:
- Why Are Construction Injuries So Common?
One of the top dangerous jobs in the US today is that of the construction worker. And given how common this job is - much more common than most other inherently dangerous professions, it is no surprise that there are so many serious injuries and even fatalities each year that affect this class of worker. And this holds true with small and large contracting companies alike, all year long, across all geographical regions, and across the full gamut of “trades.”
Facing daily hazards, like walking scaffolding 10 to 20 feet in the air or higher, scaling rooftops, connecting new wires or rewiring, operating power tools, and heavy machinery, and possibly being exposed to asbestos or other harmful chemicals, construction crews are truly brave and tough. But when an injury occurs, and you lose your income while incurring enormous medical bills - there is little choice but to move quickly to file a workers comp claim in order to salvage your financial future.
- Why Do I Need A Construction Injury Attorney?
Some might be tempted to think they can “go it alone” and avoid using a lawyer when handling their workers' comp construction injury case. But that is a big mistake. The fact is, construction injury claims are particularly complex, with factors like OSHA compliance, engineering and building codes, defective or dangerous products, and a host of workers comp regulations all involved.
Without help from an experienced lawyer, you may not know what to do first, may not be knowledgeable to fight for a fair settlement, and could end up jeopardizing your financial future. There are forms, deadlines, legal negotiations, and other issues involved that require an attorney experienced in both workers comp law and in handling construction injury claims.
- What Are My First Priorities Post-Accident?
Without a doubt, your first area of concern must be to receive immediate medical attention for your injury. If you go straight from work to the ER in an ambulance, that will happen almost automatically. But if your injury is not life-threatening, but still very serious, you need to NOT procrastinate in seeing the doctor and getting the medical care you need.
The next step is to talk to a good lawyer who will guide you step by step through the whole process and prevent the insurance company or your employer from taking advantage of you and trying to deny or reduce your claim. You should also report the injury right away and note the name of the person you inform. Then get names and contact information for any potential witnesses, along with any evidence you may be able to collect - including photographic and physical evidence.
- Is My Compensation Limited Exclusively To Workers Comp Benefits?
If you file for and collect California workers comp benefits for your work-related construction injury, you can’t also file a lawsuit against your employer or a coworker in most instances. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have no other forms of compensation available.
For example, sometimes a third party such as a material, tool, or equipment manufacturer may be subject to a defective products tort action. Or, a property owner or third-party contractor may be at fault. It takes an experienced lawyer to leave no stone unturned in finding you every possible form of compensation.
- What Are The Most Common Types Of Construction Accidents?
The most common of all construction industry injuries are falls of some kind. Often, it’s a fall into a trench or down a steep incline. It can also be a fall from scaffolding or from a roof or ladder. Being struck by a falling object, like a tool falling from above onto one’s head, is a second common accident type. This is why hardhats are so important as a safety precaution.
Accidents also often relate to use (or misuse) of heavy equipment like a dumpster or an insulation blower, from power tools like circular saws and nail or staple guns, or from on the job vehicles like forklifts and “cats.” Many are run over by large trucks, perhaps over the feet or legs, or crushed by materials being delivered by crane. Electrocution, fires, explosions of work generators, and sudden collapse of a work trench or the wall of a building are yet further common dangers.
- Are All Construction Site Injuries Covered By Workers Comp?
The short answer is, almost all injuries that take place on the construction site or other work site or that occur while engaged in work-related duties, will be fully covered by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. It doesn’t matter who was negligence or at fault because workers comp is a no-fault system in California.
However, there are a few possible exceptions. If a worker was drunk or high on illegal drugs while at work or if the injury was purposefully self-inflicted, that creates an exemption from coverage. Also, if you choose to sue your employer, you can’t still collect on workers comp on top of that.
- Is The Property Owner Ever Liable For Construction Injuries?
Yes, it is possible that if the owner of the property where you were working was negligent in a way that caused your injury, he or she could be held liable for damages. But it also depends on whether the property owner was truly in charge of how the construction site was maintained and over how the project was handled.
It is not typical for a property owner to be held liable, but there are instances where they can be. And if so, this does NOT cancel your ability to file for benefits through workers comp as well. Note that the duty to maintain a safe work environment resides in the contractor, the property owner, or both. It varies to what extent each is responsible.
- What About Injuries Not Caused By A Single Incident?
Sometimes, the labor involved in construction work takes its toll on your body little by little rather than in a single incident. This does NOT cancel your ability to file a workers comp claim. A bad back, joint problems, muscle strain and sprains, damage to the brain or internal organs due to heat stress, and damage done by continual overexertion may come on you slowly rather than suddenly.
Establishing the cause and extent of injuries without a definite, identifiable beginning point can be a challenge. This changes how the paperwork must be done and how your evidence must be presented. Again, this is a clear reason why you need an attorney’s experience going into your claim.
- What About Conditions Caused By Exposure?
Some injuries are not caused by long term overexertion or even by a single accident but instead by exposure to harmful substances. This exposure can be in small amounts over a long period of time or in high concentrations over a shorter period. Either way, do not hesitate to apply for workers comp benefits to cover this kind of injury.
One in six cases of those with dangerous concentrations of lead in their blood were construction workers. Those with exposure to asbestos, coal dust, or silica may develop “pneumoconiosis” or other chronic respiratory diseases. This kind of injury can often lead to a suit against manufacturers as well as a workers comp claim.
- What Are Some Of The Most Severe Common Construction Injuries?
What are the most common of all construction work injuries? And which are the most severe? All too often, amputations, bone fractures, severe skin burns, electrocution, deep cuts and punctures by nails or tool parts, eye damage, hearing loss, shoulder injury, knee or ankle damage, back and neck injuries, and traumatic brain injury or concussions occur at the work site.
Paralysis, partial or full and temporary or permanent, are not nearly rare enough; and fatalities occur at rates higher than in most other industries. Finally, PTSD following a fall or severe injury of the death of a coworker also are fairly frequent with construction jobs.
- How Large Are Construction Claims For Workers Comp?
The exact size of your benefit will depend on many factors, including the severity and duration of the injury and how much income you lost as a result of not being able to work. But overall, we can say that construction workers tend to have claims with a higher price tag than the average injured worker applying for workers comp.
Roofers and carpenters, in particular, tend to have double the claim amounts when it comes to elevated fall injuries and lost wage claims of $100,000 or more on average. As injuries tend to more severe for this class of workers and pre-injury salaries relatively high, workers compensation benefits are also correspondingly high.
- What Are The Most Common Causes Of Construction Worker Fatalities?
Fall injuries are by far most common, with around 20% of all US fall accident fatalities happening to construction workers and a third of all construction fatalities stemming from falls. About 10% of construction accidental deaths are due to electrocution and another 10% to being hit with a falling object.
Also realize that the construction industry has the seventh highest rate for nonfatal injuries, accounting for around 10% of the US total in that category.
- What Kinds Of Benefits Can Injured Construction Workers Get From Workers Comp?
First of all, all medical expenses stemming from the injury are coverable by California workers’ compensation insurance. Your employer is normally required to buy this insurance to cover you, and you have a right to its benefits when any work-related injury befalls you. Next, you are entitled to compensation for lost wages while the effects of your injury continue to affect your ability to work.
Third, you may get benefits based on bonuses and “perks” you were receiving as part of your job’s overall compensation. And fourth, you can sometimes get vocational rehabilitation funds to help retrain you for a new task if you can no longer do your former job as before.
- What is “TD” Versus “PD” in Terms of Benefits?
TD (temporary disability) benefits are paid to an injured worker by his employer's workers comp insurer at two-week intervals until he or she fully recovers and returns to work. In most cases, you get two-thirds of whatever your average income before the accident was for TD benefits.
PD (permanent disability) benefits may be paid out permanently or for a longer period of time at least. When you are unable to ever fully recover to where your abilities were pre-accident, PD benefits may be in order. The benefits are determined on a disability rating basis, which means a percentage of how much your working ability is deemed to have been impaired by the accident.
- How Do I File My Workers Comp Claim?
The first thing to do is to officially report the injury to your employer. Next, you need to request from him a workers’ comp claim form, which he is obligated to provide you with. Then you fill it out and turn it back in to him, and he must inform his insurer of your claim request. You will want to keep a personal copy of your claim form for future reference, and you may want to discuss matters with a lawyer before actually turning it in.
You have to file your claim within 30 days of the injury in most cases or risk losing your rights to compensation under workers’ comp. The insurer must release up to $10,000 for any immediate medical needs you may have even if they haven't yet decided on whether to approve or deny your claim. They have 90 days to make that decision, but you can always appeal and then negotiate a settlement even if you got an initial denial or claim reduction.
- What Role Does OSHA Play?
OSHA regulations and a possible OSHA inspection may be involved in workplace injury cases, including construction site injuries. Your workers' compensation claim is not dependent on who was a fault, so even if your employer was negligent or had OSHA violations, that doesn’t mean you have to sue instead of filing for workers’ comp benefits.
However, employers who are investigated by OSHA may end up with severe fines and have warnings issued against them. Whether the general contractor or an independent subcontractor is to bear the weight of OSHA fines varies based on who had control over the job site, when, and to what extent. If you believe your work site is not safe, then you have a right to contact OSHA about it and report alleged violations. An inspection may follow, which workers have the right to attend so they can point out violations to the inspector.
- Is It Worth The Cost To Hire An Attorney?
You may worry about the cost of hiring a workers comp lawyer to handle your case, but the truth is, you stand to lose out on a lot of potential benefits if you fail to use one. The chances of getting a fair offer, much less a fair final settlement, without any legal help is slim in today’s day and age. Being buried under a mountain of medical bills amid a cut-off or greatly reduced income is too big of a risk - only an experienced workers’ comp attorney can ensure that doesn’t happen.
We at Workers’ Compensation Attorney charge a fair, affordable, competitive rate and will give you a free case analysis. We can give you a heads up on what to expect and do everything possible to expedite the process.
- What Safety Procedures Must Construction Employers Follow?
One of the key areas of OSHA attention for California’s construction companies is that of inspection of scaffolding. Since falls are far and away the biggest cause of injuries, and most of these happen off of scaffolding, OSHA is very picky about how scaffolding is built, who sets it up, and that it be inspected before every use.
There are also strict guidelines concerning the use of ladders, suspension ropes, guard rails, body belts, anchorage points, and the use of safety gear and safe types of clothing while working from heights. Forcing employees to work in unsafe weather conditions, not providing adequate training, or encouraging the use of faulty or damaged equipment are also serious violations. Reporting these kinds of issues and correcting them early may prevent serious injuries and deaths.
- Can I Get Workers Comp Benefits If I Had A Preexisting Condition?
Having a preexisting condition does not automatically disqualify you from receiving workers compensation benefits. If, for example, you had a bad back before you started working for your employer but reported that fact to him at the time, and then your back condition grew worse due to the performance of your work-related tasks, you can still have a valid claim.
The issues of how far your condition worsened from where it began, to what extent work contributed to that worsening, and whether or not your off-work activities had a bearing on the result will be brought up by your employer and his insurer most likely. If a particular incident was clearly responsible for the acceleration or aggravation of your preexisting condition, that may simplify things. If it’s a matter of stress over a period of time, then the details of your case will require even more legal expertise to dig into and present to the workers' comp judge in the best possible light.
- What If I Was Injured During a Work Break?
It doesn’t affect your claim just because your injury occurred during a lunch break, rest or bathroom break, or even during a company-sponsored event like a picnic or party. All of that is included under workers compensation insurance coverage. If your employer tries to tell you that you can’t file because you were injured on break, don’t believe him. Call us and we will explain to you the way the system really works.
Get Answers Today From A Workers Comp Attorney Near Me!
We don’t pretend that the 20 preceding questions in any way exhaust all possible inquiries you may have concerning filing a workers compensation claim as an injured California construction worker. We stand ready to answer any other questions you may have and to address all of your concerns.
Contact us anytime 24/7 by calling 310-956-4277 for a free legal consultation. There is zero obligation, and we will give you an overview assessment of your case from a workers’ comp expert. We can get started on winning you the best possible settlement today!