San Diego Construction Accident Attorney
Construction sites are inherently hazardous places for both workers and passersby. Construction companies and their management must take reasonable steps to assure a worker’s safety, as well as the well-being of the general public. If they fail in this duty, they may be legally liable for any damages that result.
How Can Our San Diego Construction Accident Lawyers Help?
If you recently suffered harm in an accident on a San Diego construction site, the lawyers at Liljegren Law Group can help. We will vigorously defend your right to fair compensation under California law. If a construction company’s negligence led to your injuries, you may be able to collect damages for your medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and more. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation with our firm today.
Common Causes of Construction Accidents
Construction accidents are usually the result of oversight, improper execution, or a lack of awareness on somebody’s part. Specifically, these are some of the common causes:
- Construction sites often require workers to perform their duties from elevated heights. Fall injuries are already one of the major causes of injury, but on constructions sites, the risk is even higher. Whether it’s on a ladder, scaffolding, ledge, or other raised surface, there is always a risk of falling. These falls can be particularly dangerous when the height involved is more than a few feet or the landing site is hazardous.
- Slip/Trip and Falls
- Construction workers don’t have to fall from high heights to injure themselves. Slip/trip and falls often lead to severe injuries that require ongoing medical attention. These slips or trips are usually related to uneven or slippery surfaces, inadequate stairs, or improperly placed equipment.
- Falling Debris
- While construction workers are required to wear hard hats, these small protection devices cannot prevent everything. When large amounts of debris or heavy equipment come into contact with a worker’s head, serious injuries are often sustained.
- On construction sites where there is exposed wiring or machinery, workers are at risk of electrocution. This is often very serious and can cause considerable internal damage.
- Machinery Accidents
- Workers operating heavy machinery are exposed to huge levels of risk on some sites. This includes getting caught between parts, tipping, or crushing injuries.
- Much like any job, construction sites can force workers to overexert themselves and cause significant musculoskeletal injury. Overexertion injuries usually result from lifting, pushing, holding, throwing, pulling, or carrying.
- Fires and Explosions
- Any time there is construction, a risk of fire or explosion exists. Often these are minor in nature, but they can still inflict harm on workers and leave the with serious burn injuries.
Construction site accident fatalities are largely due to what has been referred to as the “fatal four” by OSHA. Falls, electrocutions, caught in between, and struck by object accidents make up over 54 percent of the fatalities.
Common Construction Accident Injuries
In San Diego, common construction accident injuries include the following:
- Spinal Injuries
- Whenever force is involved, the human spine is at risk. With so many nerve endings, discs, muscles, and tendons, any wrong movement can result in injury to the spinal cord. When you account for all the risk factors on construction sites, it’s no surprise that spinal injuries are so common. These include displaced discs, fractures, nerve damage, and more.
- Head Injuries
- Trauma to the head can lead to cuts, fractures, concussions, brain damage, coma, or death. On construction sites, head injuries usually result from falling debris, machinery malfunctions, or falls.
- Burn Injuries
- When electrocution, explosions, or fires occur, burn injuries frequently result. These could be minor in nature or as serious as third degree burns requiring skin grafts and leading to permanent scarring.
- Heat Stroke
- Because construction sites are usually outdoors, workers are often exposed to extreme conditions. In the summer, high temperatures can lead to heat stroke. This may result in brain, kidney, or heart damage, if left untreated.
Construction site accidents are also responsible for over 800 fatalities every year in the United States.
Compensation After Construction Accident
If you recently sustained injuries in an accident on a construction site, you may be able to collect compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and non-monetary losses. Construction sites are inherently dangerous places – in fact, the Bureau of Labor statistics names construction as one of our nation’s most dangerous industries every year. Construction workers provide a valuable service to our community, yet they are prone to serious injury, even when taking safety precautions. If you suffered harm while on the job and believe that someone else may be legally responsible, contact a San Diego construction accident attorney at Liljegren Law Group for a free review of your legal options.
Protection Under OSHA Law
Construction workers, like many other employees, enjoy certain protections under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This federal organization helps hold employers accountable for providing a reasonably safe place to work. Under OSHA law, employers must follow certain safety guidelines and health standards. They must identify and correct problems within their workplace and take steps to reduce or eliminate workplace risks.
OSHA works to ensure that employers are doing all they can to ensure a safe workplace by conducting periodic inspections and investigating the procedures and safety equipment in a workplace following an accident. If a worker is injured on the job, employers are required to report the incident to OSHA, which will make safety-enhancing suggestions to prevent further incidents.
OSHA laws also require employers to:
- Provide safety training to workers, in a language they can understand.
- Inform workers of inherent risks of the job through training, material data sheets, labels, alarm systems, and more.
- Prominently display a poster that highlights an employer’s rights and responsibilities under the law.
- Avoid retaliation or discrimination against workers who report work site dangers or exercise their rights under OSHA law.
- Notify OSHA of any workplace-related fatality within 8 hours, and any hospitalizing injury within 24 hours.
- Provide appropriate personal protective equipment at no cost to the employee.
- Provide testing and exams when OSHA deems it necessary.
- Post notification of their OSHA violations and citations for workers to see.
- Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- Comply with any OSHA instructions or guidelines related to investigations or citations.
Additionally, OSHA highlights certain rights for workers. As an employee, you have the right to the following under OSHA law:
- Working conditions that do not present a serious harm to your health or well-being.
- Access to information and training about workplace hazards, how to prevent them, and the specific OSHA standards that apply to your workplace.
- Access to training in a language you can understand.
- To receive copies of records detailing work-related illnesses and injuries that happen in your workplace.
- To receive copies of reports that detail the presence and degree of workplace hazards.
- To speak privately with an OSHA investigator or participate in the inspection process.
- To file a complaint without fear of retaliation.
- To file a complaint against your employer if you face retaliation for being a “whistleblower” under one or more of the 21 federal laws in which OSHA has jurisdiction.
OSHA guidelines are very serious and violations are a matter of federal law. If your employer fails to fulfill its responsibilities, it could be legally liable for any injuries that result.
Your Legal Options After a Construction Accident
If you recently sustained injuries in an accident on the construction site, you have a few different legal options available, including:
A Workers’ Compensation Claim
- Most injured workers look to the state workers’ compensation system for recourse following an occupational accident. The state of California requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance that covers a work-related illness or injury. Employers file a workers’ compensation claim with their insurance company, which pays for your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages, depending on the terms of your employer’s policy.
- The primary advantage of the workers’ compensation is its no-fault basis, which means you won’t have to prove that your employer was negligent in order to collect benefits. On the other hand, collecting workers’ compensation benefits limits your ability to obtain compensation for your non-monetary losses, even if your employer was negligent.
- If your injuries occurred from your employer’s negligence, you may be able to collect further damages using an alternative dispute resolution technique such as arbitration or mediation. The main advantage of using this method is that it does not involve a workers’ compensation judge, and an experienced attorney can represent you as you defend your right to fair compensation. The attorneys at Liljegren Law Group will negotiate aggressively on your behalf and protect your right to fair compensation under the law. Arbitration and mediation, unlike workers’ compensation claims, can also lead to compensation for non-monetary losses such as pain, suffering, and emotional anguish.
- Many construction companies work involves labor unions. This means you may have contractual clauses that dictate mediation or arbitration under your collective bargaining agreement. Having an attorney with specific experience working with California unions and CBAs is essential.
Is Your Construction Company Following Safety Best Practices?
OSHA not only establishes regulations for employers, but also suggests best practices for preventing injury and enhancing safety on the construction site. According to OSHA, the most common causes of injury and death arise from the “Fatal Four:”
- Being struck by an object
- Being caught in between two objects
Most construction accidents are preventable through simple preparation. Management should exercise basic safety best practices, including:
- Making safety an integral part of the job by offering ongoing training, conducting safety audits, and more
- Creating accountability at all levels of the organization, from workers up to the highest level of management
- Taking safety measures into account throughout the project planning and preparation process
- Ensuring that all contractors and sub-contractors on the job site are pre-qualified in terms of safety
- Ensuring that all workers on the job site adhere to pre-set safety regulations, and enforcing as necessary
- Creating a fall protection system by using harnesses and other safety measures
- Reviewing accidents that lead to “near misses” to determine the root cause and take preventive steps for further work action
- Creating innovative safety training seminars, such as incorporating virtual reality
- Offering specialized training seminars by work area
- Conducting weekly training seminars to discuss updates and lessons learned
In addition, employers can help reduce the risk of injury by exercising basic site preparation techniques such as debris removal, filling holes, leveling ground, and marking gas and electrical lines before work begins. With a few preventive measures like these, employers can greatly reduce the rate of worker injury.
Falls are the number one leading cause of death on a construction site, according to OSHA. Employers are responsible for providing adequate fall protection systems and ensuring that employees use the safety equipment available. Examples of fall protection include guardrails,, safety nets, harnesses, warning line systems, and more. Additionally, employers must ensure that ladders are long enough to reach work areas and stairwells and scaffolding should be free of debris.
Personal Protective Equipment
Lastly, employers must provide adequate personal protective equipment for the job. This includes not only fall protection like safety harnesses, but also hard hats, steel-toed boots, and protective eyewear. Employers must provide this protection at no cost to the employee, and safety equipment must be appropriate for an employee’s job scope.
Construction Hazards for Non-Workers
Construction sites can be dangerous places, and not just for workers. Civilians also face unique dangers when walking through or driving through construction sites. Construction companies and their contractors have a responsibility to make sure that a construction site is appropriately cordoned off and that someone is safely redirecting traffic. Signs and barricades must be visible, but these can still present a hazard to the public. For example, an improperly designed barricade can cause further injury if a car strikes it, and a safety sign that comes to a sharp point can penetrate a car’s windshield and cause serious injury.
Passersby construction sites can also experience injury in other ways. For example, a pedestrian can sustain injuries from falling debris or the collapse of negligently installed scaffolding. Curious children may experience electrocution from exposed wires or sustain injuries falling into a construction trench. Employers have a responsibility not only to their workers, but to the general public too. If a pedestrian or driver suffers harm because of negligent activity on a construction site, he or she may be able to collect damages for both monetary and non-monetary losses. If you recently suffered an injury because of construction activity, contact a personal injury attorney in San Diego at Liljegren Law Group today.
Who May Be Liable in a Construction Accident/Injury?
If an employee notices a workplace hazard, he or she must report it to the workplace supervisor as soon as possible. Employers then have the obligation of addressing and correcting the issue. If there is no way to correct the issue for the time being, the employer must take steps to prevent employee injury until they can solve the problem. If an employer fails to take these measures or does nothing to prevent employee injury, the injured employee may sue the employer for negligence.
Most injured construction workers can secure compensation for their medical expenses and lost income after a work-related injury through workers’ compensation claims. All California employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance and must process claims in good faith. If a workers’ compensation claim isn’t enough to cover an injured employee’s losses, the employee can secure additional compensation through a personal injury lawsuit against the employer.
Third Party Claims
Some construction work involves contact with third parties like product vendors, subcontractors, or just the general public. For example, a construction worker delivering supplies to a jobsite suffers an injury when another motorist negligently crashes into his truck. The injured employee may file worker’s compensation since the injury occurred while he was working, but he may also file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent third party.
Many construction workers rely on tools and supplies from other companies and vendors. Product manufacturers must ensure their products perform as advertised and present no extraordinary risk to end users through normal use. If a construction worker suffers an injury from a defective piece of machinery, tool, or construction material, he or she may be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer. Unlike personal injury claims, the plaintiff will not necessarily have to prove the manufacturer was negligent, only that the product in question was defective and the defect caused the plaintiff’s damages.
OSHA carefully monitors complaints of employer negligence and job site hazards. If a construction employee notifies his employer about a job site hazard and the employer does nothing to address it, the employee can contact OSHA to report the issue. OSHA violations are serious matters, and employers found guilty of such violations are liable for any resulting employee injuries.