While workplace injuries can occur in any industry, construction consistently ranks as the most dangerous industry across the nation, with hundreds of thousands of injuries every year. Construction is an incredibly difficult and physically demanding field, and workers face a wide variety of serious health and safety hazards every day on job sites. If you’ve suffered an injury as a construction worker, you deserve fair compensation for medical and prescription costs, as well as your time away from work.
Injuries can occur from working at heights, operating heavy machinery, handling cumbersome objects, using vibrating power tools for long periods of time, navigating unstable structures, and encountering electrical cables or equipment. Even performing repetitive motions such as lifting, pushing, pulling, or bending can cause severe musculoskeletal disorders. Workers can also develop debilitating illnesses from exposure to harmful substances, loud noises, or airborne toxins.
Due to the inherently dangerous nature of this work, construction companies, property owners, and contractors must follow strict safety standards to prevent injury-causing accidents. However, they often fall short of their obligations. Some construction sites are unsanitary, improperly maintained, and poorly guarded.
Companies may hire unqualified workers, fail to adequately train them, push them to complete projects too quickly, or neglect to provide necessary safety gear. Although employee mistakes can contribute to accidents, many injuries result from a combination of poor working conditions, lack of safety procedures, and improper supervision. Thankfully, the workers’ compensation system exists to help injured workers cover their medical bills and replace their lost wages while they heal.
If you have sustained an injury on a construction site, review the following information to learn more about construction accidents and how the workers’ compensation system functions; then contact the Los Angeles construction accident lawyers Mitchell Law Corporation right away to discuss your case. You only have thirty days after experiencing an injury to file your claim, so prompt action is necessary to protect your rights and defend your interests.
Construction accidents can take many forms, but the four types of accidents described below are referred to as “the fatal four” by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) because they account for over half of construction worker deaths every year:
Falls comprise more than one-third of construction accidents and can occur when a worker falls from a height or slips and trips at ground level. Construction workers often perform tasks hundreds of feet off the ground, making them vulnerable to catastrophic and deadly falls. The severity of the fall depends on the circumstances of the accident, the distance the worker falls, and the use of safety gear. While harnesses, guardrails, and safety nets are meant to prevent these falls, they are not always provided or adequately maintained, and supervisors do not always educate workers on fall prevention.
Struck by accidents involve workers being hit by moving, falling, rolling, swinging, or flying objects. Supervisors must clearly mark or block off areas of high risk, ensure workers are wearing personal protective equipment, train them to never stand between fixed and moving objects, and instruct them on how to properly position and secure materials so they do not fall. Only workers trained and licensed to operate bulldozers, cranes, backhoes, and other mobile equipment should be permitted to do so.
Caught in (or caught between) accidents occur when workers are caught, squeezed, pinched, compressed, or crushed between two objects or different parts of objects. This can involve a vehicle trapping a worker against a wall, a limb being caught in a machine, or a cave-in. Construction companies must ensure that any machinery or equipment with moving parts are properly maintained, undergo prompt repairs when needed, and are locked or guarded while not in use. Supervisors must train workers on how to safely use this machinery, teach them how to recognize hazardous conditions, and provide protective equipment.
Construction workers often handle electric equipment and devices on jobs and may be exposed to electricity, power lines, or energized sources. Contact with live electricity can result in electrical burns, arc/flash burns, thermal contact burns, fire, or explosion, but electrocution is the fourth leading cause of death among workers. Electrical power installers and repairers and workers involved in digging or earthmoving are most vulnerable to electrocution and other electricity-related hazards. The greater the electric current the worker is exposed to, the greater the chance of a lethal injury.
Of course, there are many more types of workplace injury, from carpal tunnel syndrome that requires surgy to black lung disease that requires lifelong care. If you’re unsure whether your injury should be covered by your employer, discuss your case with our firm.
California Labor Code Section 3700 requires all employers in the state with one or more employees to carry workers’ compensation coverage and benefits. Workers’ compensation functions as a type of insurance that employers purchase and pay into every month, and failure to carry this coverage is considered a criminal offense punishable by fines, imprisonment, and a stop order that prohibits the operation of the business until insurance is obtained. The system protects both employers and their employees by providing workers with compensation for any medical expenses they incurred due to workplace injuries. This ensures injured workers have prompt access to covered, effective medical care after an injury, in exchange for surrendering their right to file personal injury claims against their employers (in most cases).
There are four main requirements for workers’ compensation eligibility in California:
An employee is defined as any person in the service of an employer under an employment contract or appointment, regardless of age or citizenship status. This includes full-time, part-time, and seasonal workers. Certain types of workers are not considered employees under workers’ compensation law, such as independent contractors, volunteers, most business owners or sole proprietors, individuals who work for aid instead of pay, domestic workers related to their employers, and students or officials participating in amateur sports events.
An injury is considered work-related when it arises out of employment and occurs during the course of employment. Work-related duties encompass any tasks performed for the benefit of your employer. A worker is not eligible for compensation if their injuries were sustained on a lunch break while attending company functions or while commuting to or from work (except in cases of business trips or workers who do not have fixed offices). Specific accidental injuries, illnesses, occupational conditions, sickness resulting from exposure to toxic or hazardous materials, and cumulative trauma injuries are all covered by workers’ compensation. Emotional distress caused by a physical injury may also be covered.
If you suffer from an occupational condition, cumulative trauma injury, or other medical issues that do not present symptoms immediately, you must file your claim within 30 days of missing work or visiting a doctor for the injury or illness and realizing the issue was work-related.
In California, workers’ compensation is based on a no-fault system, meaning an employee who experiences a workplace injury or illness is not required to prove that this injury or illness resulted from the negligent behavior of their employer or another person to file a valid claim. Even if a worker is partially at fault for the injury-causing accident, they can still recover compensation in the form of benefits. Exceptions to this include:
Benefits can vary depending on the type of injury, its severity, and the circumstances surrounding it. A Los Angeles construction accident lawyer can help you recover the following benefits:
Immediately provide your employer with written notice of your work-related injury. If you experience a medical emergency, seek treatment first, then notify your employer as soon as possible. They must provide you with a blank workers’ compensation form within one day, along with information about your rights and eligibility for benefits. Fill out the employee portion of the form and return it to your employer. They will then fill out the employer portion, submit it to their insurance company for review, and give you a copy. As soon as the insurance company files the claim, they will authorize payment for your medical expenses so you can continue receiving treatment while they review your claim. They must provide up to $10,000 for medical expenses until determining whether to approve or deny your claim.
If you miss work due to your injury, you should begin to receive temporary disability benefits within 14 days of the injury. If you do not receive a denial letter from your employer’s insurance company, this means your claim is automatically approved. However, even if they have begun paying your medical and temporary disability benefits, you may still encounter difficulty in the future if your condition changes or disputes arise with your employer or their insurance company regarding your claim. Filing an Application for Adjudication of a Claim with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) permits you to present any future claim disputes before an administrative law judge. You must file this form within one year after the date of injury.
Construction work is inherently dangerous, and anyone in this industry deserves to be treated fairly and with appropriate compensation after being hurt. If you experienced a construction injury, consulting a Los Angeles worksite accident attorney right away is vital for protecting your right to recover compensation.
At Mitchell Law Corporation, our expert attorneys believe that injured workers should receive the financial support they need to make a full recovery and continue supporting their families during the healing process. We have the legal knowledge and skills to help you throughout every stage of the claims process and are dedicated to aggressively advocating on your behalf until we can deliver the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for the best chance at recovering the maximum award in your workers’ compensation claim.