No-Fault or At-Fault Construction Accidents

Workplace Injury Attorneys for Riverside and San Bernardino County Victims

Construction sites are inherently dangerous places. Construction workers face many risks on the job. California is a state in which another party’s liability must be established to recover damages from it after a construction accident. However, there are situations in which nobody is at fault. A construction worker can recover compensation in the form of workers’ compensation benefits if he or she is injured or made ill on the job. If you were injured in a no-fault or at-fault construction accident, you should discuss your situation with the Riverside and San Bernardino County workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C.

No-Fault vs. At-Fault Construction Accidents

Construction sites are complex places where many people work. Construction accidents may involve scaffolding accidents, falls, crane collapses, falling objects, improperly maintained or defective machinery, trenching or excavation accidents, nail gun accidents, welding accidents, chemical or toxic exposures, and explosions. Accidents can result in serious injuries, including fractures, broken bones, spinal cord damage, paralysis, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, and lacerations.

The workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system. You should obtain benefits if you suffer a work-related injury or illness. In some cases, insurers deny a claim by arguing that an injury was not work-related. This most often occurs in connection with injuries that arise due to repetitive stress or have slightly more ambiguous origins, such as chronic pain conditions or heart disease. However, if there were witnesses to a construction accident in which you sustained acute injuries, it is less likely that your claim will be outright denied. Even so, there may be a dispute with the insurer about how serious your injury is or the amount of benefits to which you are entitled.

Workers’ compensation benefits to which you may be entitled after a construction accident include medical care, partial wage replacement in the form of disability benefits, and vocational retraining in the form of a supplemental job displacement benefits voucher. The nature and severity of your injuries will determine the amount and type of benefits that you will receive. For instance, if you fall from a scaffold and suffer multiple fractures and spinal cord damage, and you cannot work at all for six months, your benefits may include emergency care, doctor’s visits, prescription drugs, and temporary total disability benefits. If the fractures and spinal cord damage lead to a full long-term disability, you may be able to obtain permanent disability benefits.

Unlike with a personal injury lawsuit, your employer and its insurer generally cannot point to your fault for the accident as a basis for denying your claim. Your benefits usually will not be reduced because you were partially to blame. However, if you were injured in the course of your own serious and willful misconduct, with certain exceptions, your benefits can be halved by the court. Conversely, if you were injured because of your employer’s serious and willful misconduct, your benefits can be increased by 50%.

Third-Party Liability

As an employee, you are limited to the exclusive remedy of workers’ compensation vis-à-vis your employer. However, if a third party is to blame for injuries arising out of a construction accident, you may be able to seek damages in a lawsuit. For example, if a trenching subcontractor that was not your employer did not install a safety rail, and you fell into a trench, you may be able to sue the subcontractor. You will need to prove that you were injured due to the subcontractor’s negligence. There may be complicated issues surrounding insurance and indemnity clauses, making it important to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney.

There are also situations in which a manufacturer of materials or equipment is to blame for a construction accident. In that case, it may be appropriate to hold the manufacturer accountable in a product liability lawsuit.

California is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that your damages can be reduced by an amount equal to your percentage of fault in a third-party lawsuit. For example, if you fell into a trench partly because you were reading texts on your phone and were not watching where you were going, your damages could be reduced by your percentage of fault. However, you may still get the full amount of workers’ compensation benefits to which you would normally be entitled.

Consult a Seasoned Attorney in Riverside or San Bernardino County

If you were injured in a no-fault or at-fault construction accident in Riverside or San Bernardino County, you should consult the Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. Our attorneys assist injured people throughout Southern California. Call us at (888) 883-6588 or complete our online form.

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