Construction Site Injury Overview

What To Do After a Job Site Accident and Injury

If you or a family member is injured on the job, they are most likely entitled to make a claim for injuries under California's workers' compensation program as most employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance. Because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, workers are not required to prove fault for their injuries to recover benefits. However, there are a few steps to keep in mind. First, you should make or report the accident and injury to the employer. There are strict timelines that must be followed to be covered by workers' compensation. So even if you are not sure the extent of the injury or you are waiting to see your doctor, you should file the report. The employer is required to file notice of the claim with the insurance company and the employee is entitled to a copy of the report, so it is a good idea to follow up and make sure the claim was filed. Second, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. If the injury is serious, go to the emergency room. If you are waiting for a scheduled visit, keep track of how your injury or illness has affected your ability to work, and be sure to inform your doctor with as much detail as possible. For example, pay attention to details such as whether or not it takes you longer to accomplish certain tasks or how much pain you may be in. Also, keep track of all out-of-pocket expenses and save pay stubs for the entire time-period showing any lost work hours. Also, it is a good idea to take notes of everyone involved in your claim, the discussions you had with them, and the dates of these discussions. Lastly, we don't charge for an initial consultation, so if you have questions we invite you to call us at 530-265-0186.

Types of Construction Site Injuries and Legal Claims

If you were injured at a construction site accident, you may be able to recover under one or more of the following depending on the specifics of your injury.

Workers Compensation

Generally, a worker may not sue his employee for injuries sustained at the workplace because they are entitled to benefits under the state workers' compensation insurance fund. Under state laws, the worker only needs show that the injury occurred, regardless of who was at fault or the reason for the injury. Oftentimes, the recovery under state workers' compensation is limited and less than under other possible avenues. However, depending on the facts of the case, workers’ compensation claims may be brought in conjunction with claims against third parties to maximize recovery of damages.

Negligent Supervision & Personal Injury

In a personal injury lawsuit, there is no cap on recovery. However, the worker must prove that someone was "negligent" and responsible for the accident.

Dangerous, Defective Products or Equipment

If the injury was caused by a defective product or equipment, the manufacturer may be responsible for the injury. The injured worker may also be able to bring a claim against other businesses in the "chain of distribution". For example, if a power saw used on a construction site causes an injury due to a defect, the injured worker may be able to recover compensation from the retailer, wholesaler, and manufacturer of the saw.

Cal-OSHA Violations

California Department of Industrial Relations regulates work sites to maintain safe working conditions.  

Cal/OSHA investigates:

  • Complaints of workplace hazards filed by employees, employee representatives, and others.
  • Reports of serious violations received from law enforcement.
  • Reports of accidents resulting in serious injury or illness or death.

Right to File a Complaint:  The California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 gives workers the right to file a complaint about workplace safety and health hazards.

Names of Complainants Must Be Kept Confidential:  The name of any person who submits a complaint to Cal/OSHA must be kept confidential by law, unless the person requests otherwise.

The Phillips Law Offices can help a worker who has been injured because of an unsafe work environment and can file a complaint with Cal-OSHA. It is important to remember that employers are not allowed to retaliate in any way against an employee who files a complaint. If the employer does retaliate against an employee for filing a Cal-OSHA violation, the employer may be subject to legal action for damages.

Some of the Most Common Types of Construction Site Injury and Accidents

  • construction site falls
  • electrical injuries
  • crane accidents
  • trench accidents
  • scaffold injuries
  • welding accidents and burns
  • equipment failure and malfunction
  • fatal injury and wrongful death

Who Can Be Held Responsible for Construction Site Injuries

When an employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, the employer is generally provided immunity from personal injury lawsuits. Only if the injury was intentional or egregious can an injured worker sue the employer. However, under the right circumstances, it is more common to file claims against a third party.

  • construction site owner:
  • general and subcontractors
  • prime contractors:  Under the “Peculiar Risk Doctrine” and California cases interpreting the doctrine, a contractor or owner who hires an independent contractor to do work which is considered to be “inherently dangerous work” can be still be held directly liable for damages when that independent contractor causes injury to others by negligently performing the work.
  • architects and engineers
  • manufacturers