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What Can a Construction Accident Lawyer Do for Me?

It’s hard to overestimate the value of the construction industry in our everyday lives. We depend on construction for the initial building and maintenance of essentials like:

  • The homes we live in
  • The offices we work in
  • The freeways we drive on
  • The utilities that serve our buildings, such as the water supply, sewage systems, and electrical grid

To meet the demand for new buildings and infrastructure—and their upkeep—the construction industry employs 13.8 million people in the United States as of June 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

But construction work is dangerous. Although roughly a quarter to a third of those who work in the construction industry have desk jobs, those who are actively engaged in construction activities face a much higher risk of injury or death from work-related accidents than workers in other industries.

Three Construction Accident Statistics

Day in and day out, construction workers labor on busy job sites, at high elevations, in and out of unfinished buildings, and around heavy equipment. Statistics confirm the dangers:

  • There were 986 work-related construction deaths in the U.S. in 2021—more than any other industry.
  • There were 72,800 work-related construction injuries in the U.S. in 2021.
  • There were 79 construction-industry deaths in California in 2021.

If you were injured while working in construction in California, you should be able to collect workers’ compensation insurance benefits.

But too often, there are complications to workers’ compensation claims—for example, insurance company delays, disputes over whether the injury occurred at work, or lowball settlement offers.

The construction accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark can guide you through the claims process and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

Your Right to a Safe Workplace

At least 20 workers died during the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge (completed in 1883). And work on the Hoover Dam (completed in 1936) was even more deadly—resulting in about 100 fatalities.

Today, although workplace safety isn’t every employer’s priority, at least the law declares that you have a right to a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 says that every employer “shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”

The Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which sets and enforces standards for workplace safety. In California, Cal/OSHA oversees construction industry safety practices.

OSHA and Cal/OSHA regulations aim to prevent workplace injuries, but construction accidents are still rampant. If you were injured in a construction accident, reach out to the construction accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark to discuss your case.

The “Focus Four”: The Most Deadly Types of Construction Accidents

There’s plenty of variety in how construction accidents occur, but four types of accidents are consistently the most deadly—that’s why they’re sometimes called the “Fatal Four.” OSHA calls them the “Focus Four” in its campaign to prevent construction accidents and fatalities.

The four most deadly types of construction accidents are:

  1. Falls, especially falls from one level of a construction site to another
  2. Being caught in or in between equipment and/or objects
  3. Being struck by falling or moving objects
  4. Electrocution

Other serious construction site risks include:

  • Dangerous site conditions
  • Vehicle or heavy equipment accidents
  • Malfunctioning or improperly used tools
  • Lack of training
  • Not following safety procedures
  • Inadequate or poorly fitting personal protective equipment (PPE)

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Motorcycle Accident

What Makes Construction Accident Cases Unique?

In California, employers in every industry are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for all employees.

Workers’ compensation should cover any workplace injury, from carpal tunnel syndrome from too much typing to a catastrophic fall on a construction site. The added factor of workers’ compensation makes construction accidents different from most other personal injury claims, which is why you should make sure your personal injury lawyer has experience in handling construction accident cases.

What’s Included in Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation benefits include:

  • Payments for medical expenses for treating your injury
  • Temporary or permanent disability payments if you cannot work
  • Payments for job training if you cannot return to your previous position
  • Death benefits for your beneficiaries if you are killed

Workers’ compensation benefits do not include noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages—which you can pursue through a personal injury lawsuit—may include payment for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of a limb or disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium (loss of the enjoyment of a relationship like marriage)
  • Loss of the enjoyment of life

How Does a Construction Accident Lawyer Help?

The combination of workers’ compensation and potential personal injury claims in construction accident cases results in a complex process full of high-stakes decisions. A reputable construction accident lawyer will help you understand the various aspects of your case so you can make confident, informed decisions.

For example, suppose you fall from the second story of a building under construction and break your leg. You inform your employer and fill out a workers’ compensation claim. Later, the insurance company contacts you with an offer for compensation.

Now, you have some questions:

  • Is the offer fair, or does it shortchange you?
  • Was your employer grossly negligent in a way that would warrant a lawsuit? How will you investigate the case if you suspect that your employer was negligent?
  • Were there contractors, site managers, or faulty equipment involved in your accident? If so, how will you build a case for a third-party personal injury claim?

Our construction accident lawyers know Bakersfield and Kern County. They’re familiar with the legal community and the workers’ compensation insurance companies. They know when you’ve received a fair offer, and they can negotiate if you haven’t.

They can also help investigate companies, personnel, or equipment involved in your accident to build a case for your workers’ compensation or third-party personal injury claim.

You may be able to report a construction accident, file a worker’s compensation claim, and collect benefits without a lawyer’s help. But in doing so, you may miss out on a higher insurance settlement or noneconomic damages from a personal injury claim.

California Workers’ Compensation: The Basics

California’s workers’ compensation system works on a no-fault basis, which has both pros and cons. For example:

  • Pro: You do not need to prove negligence on the part of your employer to collect workers’ compensation benefits; all that matters is that the injury occurred at work.
  • Con: If you accept workers’ compensation payments, you cannot also sue your employer if their negligence caused your construction accident.
  • Pro: Workers’ compensation can provide temporary disability benefits to cover your salary while you’re healing and unable to work.

Con: Workers’ compensation disability benefits may not cover your entire salary, whereas economic damages awarded through a personal injury lawsuit could cover your entire salary.

Third-Party Construction Accident Claims

Accepting workers’ compensation benefits from your employer doesn’t prevent you from pursuing a construction accident personal injury claim against any third party whose negligence resulted in your injuries. Third parties in construction accident cases include:

  • The property owner, if they are responsible for unsafe site conditions
  • Contractors or subcontractors from other companies on site
  • Construction site managers
  • Product manufacturers, if your injuries resulted from an equipment malfunction or defect

Deadlines in Workers’ Compensation Cases

If you’re injured at your construction job, you should get immediate medical attention and report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. According to Cal/OSHA, “If you don’t report your injury within 30 days, you could lose your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.”

Your employer is required to provide you with a workers’ compensation claim form within one working day after you let them know about your injury. You have one year from the date of your injury (or the date you discovered your injury) to file a workers’ compensation claim. This is significantly shorter than the two-year statute of limitations for other types of California personal injury claims.

Bakersfield Construction Accident Lawyers

The Kern County construction accident attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark specialize in handling personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. Senior partner James Yoro and partner Beatriz Trejo are both certified workers’ compensation specialists—a certification recommended by California’s Department of Industrial Relations (DIR).

Recovering from injuries is never easy; it’s harder when you’re juggling medical bills, paperwork, and keeping track of filing deadlines. The burden is compounded when you’re unsure whether the insurance company is shortchanging you on your claim.

Our construction accident lawyers help carry the load. We’re a local law firm with deep roots in Bakersfield and Kern County. When we represent you in your construction accident claim, you’re more than just a number to us—you’re a neighbor. We’ll help ensure that you get the most out of your workers’ compensation claim and, possibly, a third-party personal injury lawsuit.

Your construction accident lawyer doesn’t receive any compensation unless we win your case. Then, the lawyer’s fee is a small percentage of your settlement. We also offer a free, no-obligation case review, so contact us today.

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