California Construction Accident Experts
Construction is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Injuries or fatalities resulting from construction accidents lead to workers' compensation claims and, in some cases, a personal injury lawsuit.
Serious and fatal construction accidents often occur when an employer, property owner, or other party fails to correct a dangerous or unsafe condition on site.
The Miller Wilmers APC construction accident attorneys are dedicated to fighting for the rights of people injured on the job. We refuse to be intimidated by the tactics of large corporations, their insurance companies or opposing attorneys, who try to prevent these business entities from being held accountable for their negligence.The Majority of Construction Fatalities Occur due to Four Types of Accidents
While we refer to these incidents as "accidents," the reality is construction injuries are most often the result of negligence by a contractor, property owner, sub-contractor, equipment manufacturer, or other party, who fails to follow state and federal regulations. Often, the failure involves neglecting to provide adequate training, proper safety gear, or safe equipment on a jobsite.
In many instances, contractors attempt to circumvent safety regulations in an effort to save time and money, but the reality is, contractors that follow safety protocols tend to be the most successful. This is especially true for new companies. Construction companies that fail in their first two years in business have injury rates that are more than two times higher than companies that succeed.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration calls construction "a high hazard industry." This is because construction workers perform numerous tasks that expose them to a variety of on-the-job dangers, including falls from roofs and other high places, tools and equipment lacking guards and other protections, being struck by heavy machinery, and exposure to silica dust, asbestos and other toxic substances.
OSHA reports that of the 4,779 private sector workers who died on the job in 2018, more than 1,000, or 21%, were in construction. That means that one in five workers who died on the job in 2018 were construction workers.
The main causes of construction worker deaths, excluding highway collisions, are what OSHA refers to as the "Fatal Four":
- Being struck by an object
- Being caught in or in between equipment.
According to the agency, these four types of accidents accounted for more than 58% of construction worker deaths in 2018, and if eliminated, would save nearly 600 worker lives each year.
Construction workers employed by smaller construction companies tend to be most at risk for serious injuries and work-related fatalities. Companies with less than 20 employees reportedly account for 75% of fatal falls. This statistic is especially jarring when you consider that more than 90% of construction companies have less than 20 employees.California Construction Accidents Often Cause Serious Injury and Wrongful Death
Southern California area construction workers also face dangers caused by the Santa Ana Winds which break down trees and create unsafe conditions for workers. For example, high winds can be dangerous when workers are operating cranes and other heavy machinery or working on scaffolding. The extreme heat that occurs in California during the summer can cause burns from construction metals and frequently result in heat exhaustion to construction workers who are not adequately provided water on the site of their work. Prompt medical attention in all construction accident cases is imperative. So too is immediate legal consultation and analysis.
Injuries stemming from construction accidents are often extremely serious, debilitating, or even fatal. They may include broken bones, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury or back and neck injuries. Recovery can take months or even years, in some cases, employees may never fully heal and are unable to work again.
Many injured workers are in the prime of their lives and are often the primary wage earners for their families. The economic ripple effect of many of these accidents not only extends to families but ultimately the greater Southern California area. Our offices are located in Santa Clarita and Valencia California, but we are available to service all of Southern California.
While all construction workers face a certain amount of risk each time they report to a jobsite, certain workers are more prone to serious and fatal injuries. Workers who work on high-rise buildings, perform demolition work, work on sewers and ducts, operate heavy machinery, and those who work with power tools are at high risk for serious and fatal injuries. Other high-risk construction workers include roofers, welders, painters, electricians, laborers, and iron and steel workers.
Employers have a duty to ensure that all workers on the job are well-trained and well-equipped for the task at hand. Too often, however, they fail and injuries result.
While a construction company might be motivated to dodge safety regulations in an effort to save money, OSHA fines can be steep. California construction companies have been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for worksites riddled with fall hazards, cave-in risks and other dangerous safety violations.Workers' Compensation Versus Third-Party Construction Accident Lawsuits
In the aftermath of an accident, it is important to speak immediately with a California construction injury lawyer because you may be entitled not only to workers' compensation benefits but also to damages from a personal injury lawsuit.
Benefits available through workers' compensation coverage allow reimbursement for medical expenses and a portion of lost income. However, such benefits will not cover damages for pain and suffering.
Third-party lawsuits against other responsible parties can help injured workers secure damages. Here are some examples of third-party lawsuits that can be filed following an accident on a construction site:
- If a piece of equipment or machinery was defective and caused or contributed to the accident, a product liability lawsuit can be brought against the manufacturer and others involved in the distribution and sale of the malfunctioning product. Manufacturers can be held liable for injuries caused by tools and equipment that are defective in design and manufacturing or for failing to properly instruct on safe use or warn against hazards. In these cases, the injured party often argues that the manufacturer knew or should have known about the defect.
- Workers can file personal injury lawsuits against parties who don't work for their employer. This includes property owners or other business owners who can be sued for failing to disclose a hazardous condition or for unsafe conditions on a jobsite. Other contractors can be sued for contributing to an unsafe worksite or failing to properly train their employees, if those failings caused the worker's injury.
- Construction workers seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents can sue all other parties responsible for the accident.
- Companies that rent and lease construction equipment and tools can be held liable for failing to maintain the equipment in a safe condition or failing to warn of hazards.
A work accident attorney will evaluate your case and seek compensation from all potentially liable parties. In most cases, these disputes are resolved through negotiations with the negligent party's insurance carrier. An attorney will make sure that a settlement provides adequate compensation for your injury.
In California the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of injury. However, to increase your chance of a successful outcome, it's crucial that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. This way a timely investigation can be performed while evidence is still present and witnesses are still able to remember how the accident occurred.Preventing Construction Accident Falls and Fatalities
Most workplace accidents and injuries are preventable. Since falls are the top cause of construction worker fatalities and make up one-third of all on-the-job deaths in the field, OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and several other government and industry groups have put together a national campaign to prevent falls on construction sites.
According to the Center for Construction Research and Training, every year in the United States, more than 200 construction workers are killed and more than 10,000 are seriously injured in falls. Here are some other statistics concerning construction worker falls:
- Workers older than 65 years of age and immigrant workers had the highest risk of fatal falls in 2018.
- Falls from roofs were the primary cause of death for workers younger than 44.
- Falls from ladders were the most common source of falls for workers older than 55.
- Roofers have 10 times the rate of deadly falls than all other construction jobs combined.
- Falls from roofs comprise 33% of all construction fall deaths and falls to a lower level are the main cause of construction accident fatalities.
The safety campaign urges contractors to take these steps to prevent falls from heights:
- Prior to starting each job, plan ahead with a focus on safety measures.
- Provide the correct equipment for workers who are performing tasks at elevated heights.
- Train workers on how to use equipment and how to work in a safe manner on roofs, ladders and scaffolding.
Planning, providing proper safety equipment, and training will not only prevent falls but other types of construction site accidents as well.
Fall equipment includes personal fall arrest systems, guardrails, and access equipment such as aerial lifts and ladders. Employees should be trained not only on how to use fall protection equipment, but on what to do if someone falls.
It's also important to note that personal protective equipment isn't effective when it doesn't fit properly. Protective equipment is available in a variety of sizes and designs. There is even protective equipment available to specifically fit women, who currently account for approximately 10% of construction workers.
We understand that workers may be hesitant to file claims against their employers or big-name firms within their industry. Calling out these firms for safety breaches is essential not only to ensuring the financial stability of the injured worker and his or her family, but also to making sure job sites are safe for future generations of workers.
There are whistleblower protection laws that protect workers who report safety violations to OSHA from retaliation by their employers.
Contact the attorneys at Miller Wilmers APC for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we recover money for you.