Whether it’s a road, commercial building, or new residential high-rise, it seems like something in Los Angeles is always under construction. Land in the area is seemingly always under renovation. These construction projects supply a lot of jobs to laborers in the greater Los Angeles area. However, these jobs are among the most dangerous a person can have. Construction accidents are all too common.
Construction Workers Risk Their Lives Every Day
The construction industry is dangerous. In cities like New York, construction accidents are the leading cause of injury and death among workers. It’s not much different on the west coast in California cities like Los Angeles. A new study published by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health reveals that construction accidents are the second-leading cause of death for California workers.
In the five-year period between 2013 and 2017, there were 309 reported construction-accident deaths in California. That’s an average of more than one fatal construction accident every single week for five years. In total, construction accidents accounted for 17 percent of all work-related deaths in this timeframe. Only the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities industry reported more work-related fatalities (26 percent).
What Causes So Many Construction Accidents in Los Angeles?
Construction sites are inherently dangerous. In the frenzy of a construction site, there are often a lot of jobs in motion at once. There’s heavy machinery, a variety /of tools, and dangerous materials. Workers are often elevated off of the ground, working on scaffolding or ladders. Others work below grade, where there’s always a risk of being crushed or buried in a trench. All of these things can – and do – contribute to accidents, injuries, and worker deaths.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are a few leading causes of fatal accidents on construction sites across the United States. The main causes are known as the “Fatal Four.”
- Falls (39.2 percent of fatal construction accidents)
- Struck by an object (8.2 percent of fatal construction accidents)
- Electrocutions (7.3 percent of fatal construction accidents)
- Caught in/between an object or machinery (5.1 percent of fatal construction accidents)
Construction accidents aren’t always fatal. The vast majority leave workers with a wide range of injuries. These accidents might be caused by a lack of safety gear, unsafe work conditions, defective equipment, inexperience, or third-party negligence.
Injured Construction Workers Can Seek Compensation
In California, construction workers are generally entitled to compensation for things like medical bills and lost income when they get hurt on the job. This is true, regardless of who’s responsible for the accident. Under Californa’s workers’ compensation laws, most employers have to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance is intended to help injured workers get money for their injuries relatively quickly without having to navigate a complex and contested injury claim. In other words, injured construction workers can get money for their injuries, but, in exchange, they give up the right to sue their employer.
With a successful claim for workers’ compensation, a construction worker injured on the job can potentially get benefits for:
- Medical bills
- Temporary disability
- Permanent disability, and
- Life pension, if injury results in a total permanent disability.
After a fatal construction accident, family members of workers killed on the job might also be entitled to death benefits, including money to cover the cost of a funeral.
Even though workers’ comp is available, it can be difficult for injured workers to get the money they deserve. Unfortunately, the laws are designed to benefit insurers and employers, not injured workers. There are a lot of hoops an injured worker will have to jump through to secure benefits.
Even then, insurers will put up a fight and work hard to devalue claims. It helps to work with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney with extensive experience navigating workers’ comp matters.
Third-Party Negligence May Also Warrant a Lawsuit
Generally speaking, injured workers waive the right to sue their employers when they get hurt on the job, as long as workers’ comp benefits are available. This doesn’t apply to third parties whose negligence contributes to a construction accident or injury. Workers may still have a legitimate legal claim for additional damages against someone other than their employer.
For example, let’s say Joe is working on a construction site in downtown Los Angeles when a car barrels into the scaffolding that he’s standing on. Since Joe was injured while performing work-related tasks, he should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. At the same time, he may want to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the car. By filing a lawsuit, Joe can potentially seek damages that aren’t available through workers comp, including money for pain and suffering and emotional distress.
It’s important to consider all potential sources of compensation after a construction site accident. Working with an attorney can help to ensure that all liable parties and compensation are identified.