January 10, 2024 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff

Statistics consistently show that construction work is one of the most dangerous occupations in the nation. There are more construction fatalities each year than there are among first responders like police officers and firefighters. Heavy equipment, power tools, open excavations, and unfinished floors all combine to make construction sites hazardous to laborers and visitors alike.

If you were injured at a construction site, the options available to you for compensation depend on your status at the site:

  • Employee: If you were on site as a construction worker, you could receive payment for medical bills and lost wages through a workers’ compensation claim. In most instances, you cannot sue your employer. However, you may be able to sue other parties if their action or inaction was partly or wholly responsible for the accident that caused your injuries.
  • Nonemployee: If you were on the construction site as a visitor or a passerby, your options are not limited by workers’ compensation rules. You can sue any party whose negligence contributed to the accident and, as a result, your injuries.

Construction site accidents are often tricky to unravel because of the many parties on-site, including:

  • The site or building owner
  • The general contractor or construction company
  • Various subcontractors and employees
  • Manufacturers of tools and construction equipment

All these parties are likely to be insured and have lawyers defending them after an accident. If you were injured as a construction worker, site visitor, or passerby, it’s a good idea to consult a construction accident attorney. Chain | Cohn | Clark has construction accident lawyers and workers’ compensation experts who can ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Let’s get into some aspects of construction accidents in more detail.

Can I Sue My Employer If I’m Getting Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

In California, all employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance, which covers employees for injuries at work. There are pros and cons to this system:

  • Pro: You don’t have to prove that your employer was negligent or caused your accident. You only need to show that the accident occurred at work.
  • Con: Although workers’ compensation covers medical expenses, the temporary and permanent disability benefits it provides are no more than two-thirds of your salary—less than you would get through a personal injury lawsuit.

In general, you’re limited to collecting workers’ compensation benefits after a work-related injury in California. You can’t sue your employer for a work-related injury unless:

  • Your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Your employer assaulted you directly and caused your injuries.
  • Your employer covered up unsafe working conditions or concealed the fact that your injuries are work-related.

When Can I Sue a Third Party for a Construction Site Accident?

If you’re a nonemployee, you can sue any party at a construction site whose negligence was responsible for the accident that caused your injuries.

If you were at the construction site as an employee, you generally can’t sue your employer, but you can sue other (third) parties whose negligence contributed to the accident that caused your injuries.

For example, suppose you work for a plumbing contractor on a construction site. The general contractor doesn’t have proper safety protocols in place, and you’re hit and injured by a falling tool.

  • Your injuries are covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
  • In addition, you can sue the general contractor for failing to maintain proper safety practices on site.

You don’t need to prove who was at fault to collect workers’ compensation benefits. But to win a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to prove the general contractor’s negligence by establishing the following items:

  1. The contractor had a duty to provide a safe workplace.
  2. The contractor failed in this duty.
  3. You were injured.
  4. The contractor’s negligence caused your injuries.

Bakersfield Construction Accident and Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

If you were injured on a construction site, you don’t need to figure out who’s responsible or what your next steps should be on your own. The experienced construction accident and workers’ compensation lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark can help you sort out the details and receive the damages you deserve.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation review of your case.