Construction is usually happening in many areas of cities, especially urban areas that feature a high population, a growing economy, and a number of bills that allow new buildings to be built by companies. Construction companies may not always adhere to the best health and safety standards, though, which can be a huge issue if the construction is occurring in places where a lot of people will pass by. It is also potentially dangerous for many workers, and construction workers have an extremely high rate of injury and a large amount of fatalities every year. If you have been involved in a construction accident of any kind, you should consider your legal options. You may have been injured on account of extreme negligence by the construction company or a worker employed there or on the site. The different scenarios and circumstances of your accident can play a major role in the type of lawsuit you file, what kind of compensation you would be eligible for, and much more. If you have specific questions about filing a construction accident lawsuit or if you want to know more about the laws surrounding what construction companies and contractors can legally do, contact our law firm, the Downtown LA Law Group. Our attorneys have years of experience handling construction accident claims and we know the best methods to securing you a victory with your lawsuit. We are extremely well versed in the law and know the contents and legalities back to front.
Construction Accident Information
Construction is cited as a dangerous job and anytime there is construction happening in an area, there are usually ample signs placed down and workers whose jobs specifically revolve around keeping injuries at a minimum. For instance, when there is road construction happening, a worker will often direct traffic with signs and force drivers into smaller lanes blocked off and guided by cones, or he will stop traffic entirely so trucks can drive across the road or pull out safely without getting hit by passing cars. To avoid damage by other individuals, construction workers will often sport bright orange work vests and reflective shirts to be easy spotted. At night, these workers greatly stand out, and accidents often happen because of inattention. Orange signs are also placed in the road to indicate upcoming construction. The signs may read “Road Work Ahead,” “Entering Construction Zone,” “Beware Falling Objects,” and more. Of course, if you are not in a vehicle, it is much more difficult to navigate a construction site. Not only will you not be protected by a vehicle, but you will have less time to avoid something if there is an incident. Construction may also occur at office buildings, hospitals, schools, warehouses, and retail stores during normal business and visiting hours, so you could feasibly suffer accidents at any point.
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Here are ways in which construction accidents happen:
Scaffolding Troubles and Other Support Failure
Scaffolding is put up alongside buildings to help workers climb up quicker and to get to work o higher floors. The scaffolding is often not held together extremely sturdy; it is meant to be quickly set up and quickly deconstructed. If there are problems with the integrity of the scaffolding, the entire structure can give way, leading to falls. In addition to scaffolding, bridges can suddenly collapse.
Construction workers can be hurt if their machinery stops working or malfunctions. It is not uncommon for chainsaws, power drills, and other products to suddenly fail, which may cause sudden problematic circumstances. Machinery may break as a result of overuse and normal wear and tear, or because it already had a defect present upon being manufactured.
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Falls From Ladders
Ladders are key objects used in construction. They range from short step-ladders to large ladders over 20 feet in length. They may be operated by multiple individuals at a time; in some cases, they are controlled by vehicles. The ladders should always be placed in sturdy locations and not on uneven ground, and if possible, affixed to the building or structure. This will prevent the ladder from suddenly falling or tipping over, especially when someone is ascending or descending it.
Trips into Ditches
A lot of construction sites feature long ditches and holes to install wiring, plumbing, foundations, and more. These ditches are usually given a wide berth by workers. However, they are sometimes not in areas that are fenced or roped off, and normal individuals may be able to walk near them. Regular people may easily slip and fall into the ditches, resulting in many injuries.
Slip and falls may happen on floors and surfaces that are slick, sleek, covered in wet materials, covered in papers or sawdust, and more. It is possible that construction may be occurring inside of a building, such as when a new wing is being added or when offices are being expanded, and customers and employees must take care to not fall. However, construction workers may not always place the proper warning signs down.
Cranes, dump trucks, bulldozers, pickup trucks, towing trucks, and other vehicles can cause accidents by virtue of their size and because of the materials they are carrying The vehicles may be overloaded or not be properly maintained, which can cause tires to blow out, parts to fall off, screws to come loose, and more. A construction vehicle accident can be devastating for those involved.
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Asbestos and Other Dangerous Gases or Materials
Many buildings contain asbestos, mold, and other toxic substances. The buildings may be in the middle of construction, condemned, or getting repaired. If the asbestos is worsened or is exposed to a greater number of people, the sicknesses and illnesses can increase.
The quintessential safety item worn by construction workers is the hard hat, as it prevents many injuries from falling objects. However, passersby and normal individuals are not privy to such equipment and are more susceptible to damage from falling items. Materials like lumber, wood, metal, casings, packages, and more can fall, and workers may drop hammers, screwdrivers, and other tools.
Fires and Explosions
Compressed gases, dry wood, improperly handled flammable materials, oils, spilled gasoline, and other issues can cause fires to break out and explosions to happen. These can be disastrous, especially in construction sites that are inside normal buildings or complexes. A fire can rapidly spread, trapping occupants of the building inside.
Construction sites are generally made to be sturdy immediately thanks to foundational work and other types of support, but misplaced beams or shifting grounds can cause the structures to be unsafe. Floors may collapse, roofs may cave in, awnings can fall from the exterior, and much more.
Defective Safety Gear
Construction workers need to wear hard hats, harnesses, protective vests, safety goggles, and more during their jobs. If there is a defect with any of these items, there may be serious repercussions. A construction worker who has to ascend to a higher floor may do so using a harness and pulley, but if the harness breaks, he could fall and sustain extreme injuries, if not die from the impact.
During the wiring and electrical installation, it is important that construction workers and electricians be aware of exposed wires, non-grounded wires, and more. If a construction worker or a regular individual completes the circuit or touches an exposed wire, he could receive a severe electric shock.
Insufficient or Improper Training
Construction workers should be given ample time to be trained for the job, and if they do not know all of the safety precautions or how to act in case of emergencies, they should not be permitted to work in dangerous areas. Of course, some training is merely a formality in some companies, which can create dangerous atmospheres and work environments. A worker may not know how to properly operate a crane or how to drive a tow truck, for instance, and could mistakenly destroy property or harm another individual at the site.
There is the possibility that parts of a construction site are unfinished or unsecured. Railings may not be installed near steps and stairs, for example, which could make it very easy to people to fall off the sides or edges. There may be window openings that are not barred, and leaning out can cause someone to lose his footing and tumble out. Elevators may also not be totally operable and could malfunction or stop working mid-trip.
Elevator Accident Lawsuits
The myriad ways that injuries and accidents can happen at construction sites just proves that you have to be consistently aware and alert when passing by or when working. You should never treat a construction site lightly; at any given moment and in any given place, there are extremely dangerous materials and situations. Sharp metal objects, heavy wood and lumber, slippery surfaces, and other issues are perpetually present.
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Injuries from Construction Accidents
Due to the high risks at construction sites, it is no surprise that the types of accidents and are varied, and that the ensuing injuries are also numerous. Although workers do all they can to protect themselves by wearing safety and protective gear, normal civilians do not have that luxury. They may be even more gravely injured than construction workers. We have provided a list of injuries below that have happened in construction accidents. Some are minor and may only take a few days to heal, resulting in no long term damages or troubles, while others may be permanent and require a lifetime of support to function.
- Broken arms
- Broken legs
- Dislocated shoulders
- Wrist and finger damages
- Collarbone injuries
- Neck injuries
- Facial damages
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Closed head injuries
- Electric shocks
- Nerve damage
- Torn muscles
- Torn ligaments
- Spinal cord injuries
- Herniated, slipped, or bulging discs
- Internal organ damage
- Piercing or puncture wounds
- Crushing injuries
- Loss of hearing
- Loss of eyesight
- Illness and sickness
- Respiratory and lung damage
- Bruises and cuts
- Severed or amputated limbs
- Paralyzed body parts
If your injuries are extremely damaging and you cannot resume your normal life, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit for a large settlement. A construction accident is a serious matter and the injuries can profoundly impact your health. It is important that you take precautions when near construction sites to avoid as many accidents as possible.
Legal Information: Worker’s Compensation
Construction workers who are injured on the job may be eligible to collect worker’s compensation. Worker’s compensation is paid out by the employer at a certain rate based on the injuries and disabilities of the injured party. In California, worker’s compensation can be claimed if a worker is simply injured at his job, and not necessarily while acting in the scope of his employment. The worker can collect a portion of his wages and may even be eligible for disability, whether partial or total and temporary or permanent. A doctor will measure the worker’s health, and upon reaching maximum medical improvement, will potentially be able to return to ork or will not be able to work again. The individual may be able to work with certain accommodations or restrictions; as long as these are reasonable and do not cause a hardship on the company or other coworkers, the employer must allow the worker to continue holding his job. However, in a job field like construction, a compromised ability to work may require the individual to take up a whole new gig. Damage to the bones and a sudden loss of strength and control can be extremely risky and may cause additional accidents and injuries. Employers are also not required to keep employees on if their statuses and work abilities can impede the progress of the company or may potentially case damages.
Legal Information: Premises Liability
Construction accidents that happen to normal individuals, such as those who are hurt by falling objects while at a warehouse being built or who are struck by shrapnel during welding at an exposed construction site on the street, can be foundations for lawsuits. These incidents will be fodder for personal injury claims. A personal injury claim is a type of lawsuit that is based on negligence. Negligence is the action or inaction that is taken by a party and allows another individual to get hurt. In order to file a personal injury lawsuit, you must be able to prove these four points of negligence:
- You were owed a duty of care by the party
- The duty of care was breached or violated in some manner
- The breach of duty led to an incident or accident of some kind
- The accident resulted in actual physical injuries
All four pints must be shown to be true or your claim will be thrown out. It can be difficult to prove all four of these points, especially if you have no legal experience at all. A premises liability claim is a more specific personal injury lawsuit that is specially geared toward property owners and managers. All individuals who are on private property fit one of three categories. Invitees are those who are on the property for a mutual benefit , such as customers who intend to make purchases. They are afforded the highest duty of care by the property owner. Licensees are those who are present as social guests and do not have to be buying anything or are present for a mutual benefit. They are afforded slightly less care than invitees. Finally, trespassers are those who are not legally on the property at all, such as robbers, those who are cutting across the site to take a shortcut, or those who are loitering in the area. Although they are forbidden to be on the property, they are still given certain rights, such as not being able to have traps set for them, especially if the construction site is a commonly used shortcut with no malicious intent by the trespassers. A premises liability claim requires that you only prove one of the following situations as true. A construction site owner must either:
- Have known about the hazard or issue at the site and took no action to fix it or provide any warnings
- Have caused the hazard or trouble in the first place
- Have been unaware of the issue but reasonably should have known if he were more careful and attentive in his investigating and work
In the majority of premises liability claims, the third situation is the most commonly cited. Property managers routinely claim that they were unaware of the troubles and that they were not able to identify it because it just so happened or because it was not dangerous beforehand.
Legal Information: Third-Party Claims
Construction accidents that occur because of defective items can result in product liability claims against the manufacturer. These malfunctioning products may be exceedingly more dangerous than others are because of their usage, high speeds, sharpness, and more. If any of these items break and lead to an accident, the manufacturer can be held accountable. Additionally, contractors, architects, and building owners can all be held responsible if they contribute to an accident, whether by negligently hiring workers, poorly designing plans, poorly implementing plans, and more.
What To Do After A Construction Accident
It is important that you follow a set procedure after a construction accident so that you do not run the risk of further damaging your health and so that your claim does not suffer. The sooner you get through all of the steps, the better off you will be. You may not feel as though each step is necessary, but as long as you adhere to the guideline, you will be safe. You should make sure to do the following after a construction accident:
- Firstly, you should go to the hospital as quickly as possible to assess any damages. You may need to call the paramedics to the scene of the construction accident to be treated there, especially if you have no reliable way of making it to the emergency room yourself. The paramedics can administer treatment and find out if you have any other problems. Many people will actually forego treatment, not realizing that adrenaline is masking a lot of heir injuries and preventing them from feeling or recognizing key pain. When you get to the hospital, your treatment may range from a simple application to lengthy surgery and weeks of recovery. It is important that you do not delay, put off, or refuse treatment if you feel you were not injured. For one, this can impact your health and cause you to suffer worse damages, and two, your insurance claim will be negatively affected by a lengthy gap between the injuries and the treatment.
- You should make sure to keep all records of the medical treatment, as well as receipts from the hospital and the insurance claims you filed out to pay for the treatment. Proof of the payment and treatment, as well as notes from the doctor or nurse, will add more weight to your claim.
- You can take photographs of your injuries to show the extent of your damages. You should not wait until weeks after you have recovered to take any pictures. You will also find it beneficial to take photographs of the scene of the construction site and the hazard, if one were present. You may also record videos of the construction site if real-time illustrates the problem more clearly.
- There may be eyewitnesses and bystanders who saw the accident happen or who were aware of the issue, such as fellow construction workers or employees in the building or nearby businesses. You can request statements and testimonies from these individuals to further bolster your claim, as it will only be more impactful if there are numerous perspectives and individuals who support you.
- If possible, you can take down the insurance information, contact details, third-party details, name, phone number, business location, and anything else that may help you identify the proper party who was responsible for the incident.
- If there were an OSHA violation that you noticed at the construction site, you could alert the organization. They can investigate and determine if the safety procedures at the site are worthwhile or if there are issues that need to be corrected. A safety violation can result in construction being suspended until the hazards are fixed.
- Finally, it is important that you consult with a construction accident lawyer who can handle your case for you. You may not have any legal experience at all, and if you wish to file a construction accident lawsuit, you may find yourself lost and unsure of how to proceed. Further, even if you do file a claim, the insurance agent is likely going ot throw it out or ignore it because he knows you do not pose a threat. Insurance agents wish to preserve the company’s profits and will not simply pay out any claim that is submitted to them. Therefore, it is crucial that you hire a skilled lawyer with experience in construction accidents. An attorney can relentlessly negotiate with the agent and work around the clock to ensure that your settlement is worthwhile.
Value Of Your Construction Accident Lawsuit
Your construction accident lawsuit will be handled be n insurance agent. He will receive your claim and evidence package, as well as demand letter, and he will look at all of the proof and what you want. This process will usually take a few weeks, as he must sift through a lot of paperwork. Once he has done so, he will either reject your claim entirely or he will make an offer. Initially, insurance agents tend to play games or use tactics to try and convince you to accept a lo settlement. They may purposely wait a long time and make it so that you are grateful to get anything and accept out of impatience, or they may make a tiny offer and say this is all they can see giving you. Fortunately, these offers can be negotiated with the help of an attorney. The value of your claim will be largely determined y the extent and severity of your injuries. If you were severely hurt and you could not return to your job for some weeks, and if you experienced a drastic change in lifestyle, you could expect a large settlement offer. On the other hand, if your injuries were not serious and you made a swift and speedy recovery, it is likely that your insurance offer will be low. In addition to your injuries, the insurance agent will look at level of negligence. If you were partially responsible for the construction accident, such as by not watching where you were going or deliberately messing with equipment at a site, you could be given a lower offer. This is known as comparative negligence. By trusting in a skilled construction accident lawyer, you may stand to gain much more than you thought possible from your lawsuit.
Sample Settlements and Verdicts for Construction Accident Lawsuits
We have summarized a few construction accident settlements below for you to consider. These accidents show how evidence may work in your favor and how juries may not always agree. Bear in mind that the exact same situation and injuries may result in two drastically different settlement aunts based on different factors. There is no set number that you can expect out of a construction accident claim, but you should still familiarize yourself with past results. They may be a good benchmark for you to understand how the insurance agent determined the offer or what similar claims have yielded.
Mario Jimenez v. McGillivray Construction, Inc.
In Jimenez v McGillivray Construction, a construction worker was performing his job duties when a streetlight fell and hit him. He was miraculously not killed in the incident, but he did sustain head injuries and hand damage. In the end, he was diagnosed with a mild TBI and he needed a finger amputated. He filed a worker’s compensation claim against the business. Jimenez underwent neurorehabilitation to deal with his brain injury. After weeks of treatment, he was found to excel in the tests, signaling marked improvement. However, many of his issues were unable to be resolved; in the aftermath of the incident, he was left stricken with a mood disorder and depression, as well as chronic pain. The counsel stated that the original injury to his brain was not treated as a priority and the lax manner in which it was addressed contributed to its degradation and lasting impact. The plaintiff received $200,000 up front in the settlement, with an additional $1,700,000 to be paid out over a period of time for the rest of his life.
Cruz A. Ardon-Lopez v. ASA Group Construction, Inc.
Ardon-Lopez was on a roof working for his business when he suddenly fell through due to a collapse. The collapse caused him to plummet nearly 20 feet ot he ground, where he suffered injuries to his head. He sustained a traumatic brain injury and a subdural hematoma. After neurorehabilitative treatment proved to not have a profound effect, he was pronounced permanently and totally disabled, and thus was unable and unfit to return to work. He did make progress thereafter, but not enough to be removed from the status. Through his worker’s compensation lawsuit against the construction company, Ardon-Lopez won a $2,000,000 settlement, with $200,000 being given to him up front and the remainder to be paid out over his life.
Theresa Worhach and John Jedic v. Antonio Banuelos dba Tony B. Electric and Construction
In Worhach and Jedic v. Tony B. Electric and Construction, a woman was injured while contractors were working on their home. A worker was completing electrical work and needed to open a trapdoor inside the house. He did not alert the woman to the trapdoor being open, and while she was walking in the hallway, she fell into the hole. They sued the company, stating that the lack of warnings, cones, and tape did not make the environment safe, and caused a dangerous condition for anyone walking nearby. The defense argued that the hazard was obvious and should have been avoided due to its known presence on the property of the couple. The defense stated that Worhach did not pay close enough attention to where she was walking, which was the key reason she was injured. Worhach suffered damage to her left shoulder and right wrist in the fall. She also suffered disc injuries. As a result of the damage, she required two shoulder surgeries and numerous surgeries on her spinal cord. She complained about movement restrictions to the abundance of hardware needed to repair her shoulder and back, and she could not return to work. She requires physical therapy every so often. The defense agreed that the shoulder injury was caused by the incident. The other injuries were claimed to be degenerative and unrelated. The judge did not fully agree with the defendant, and as a result, ruled that the company was 75% negligent for the incident. What was a $760,000 settlement became a $570,000 after the reduction from the comparative negligence.
Compensation from a Construction Accident Lawsuit
Victims of construction accidents can receive a fair amount of compensation for their injuries. The different types of restitution include the following:
- Medical expenses from the past and future to cover surgery costs, hospitalization fees, ambulatory transportation, specialist costs, medication expenses, physical therapy or rehabilitation sessions, and more
- Lost income from time spent away from work from the past and future for recovery time, treatments, inability to travel, and more
- Property damage for any items that were broken, lost, or in need of repair after the incident occurred
- Pain and suffering damages to cover emotional trauma, anxiety, fear, PTSD, mental anguish, and more
- Wrongful death expenses if a family member or loved one passed away in the incident, which may include funeral expenses and burial fees, pre-death medical bill coverage and pain and suffering costs, loss of consortium and relations, loss of expected savings and inheritance, and more
A construction accident attorney can ensure that you are given the maximum settlement value available for your case. You should not try to pursue such damages by yourself with no assistance.
Statute of Limitations to File a Construction Accident Lawsuit
In California, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit against the responsible party for a personal injury or premises liability claim. This two-year limit is meant to ensure that the claim is filed within an acceptable amount of time and does not drag on, even to the point that it will be filed years later. The earlier a claim is filed, the more likely it is that your evidence will be safe and not corrupted, and that the defendant will have the ability and means to pay for damages If you miss out on the two-year limit, you will not be able to pursue compensation in the future. There are a few exceptions to this statute, though. For one, if you were under the age of 18 years old at the time of the incident, you could have the statute wait until you turn legal age to sue. You also do not need to adhere to the statute if you were left physically or mentally incapacitated after the incident; you will be allowed to sue once you return to satisfactory health or awareness of mind. Additionally, the defendant must be present in the state if you wish to file a claim against him. If he is absent, the statute will be suspended until he returns to California. Many claims go without being filed because plaintiffs miss the statute of limitations and do not know when the time limit runs out. You should always pay close attention to the deadline and ensure that you are not in danger of missing it. By speaking with our attorneys and working with us, you can have the best representation available. We will make sure that your claim is filed on time and that every deadline is met.
Choosing the Best Firm for You
The Downtown LA Law Group has a team of expert construction accident attorneys who are highly rated and have been involved in such claims for years. We know the best techniques and strategies to win your case, and we will hire expert witnesses to speak on your behalf. Our goal is to bring you every penny you deserve, and we will not stop negotiating with the insurance agent until we are satisfied. If we have to go to court to win your restitution, we are willing to do so. Call our firm for a free legal consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and you can ask us anything you wish about your case. We will also tell you more about our zero fee guarantee, which states that you won’t have to pay a dime of out of pocket fees when you hire us. We will cover your case’s costs ourselves and if we win, the money for our fees will come out of the settlement we bring you. If we lose, we take no payment at all. If you were injured in a construction accident, contact the Downtown LA Law Group at once.