Construction sites are notoriously dangerous places where accidents can happen every day, and some can be deadly. According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, there were 1066 fatal occupational injuries in the construction sector in 2019 alone, a 6% increase in comparison to previous years. While there are inherent hazards associated with being a construction worker, one may wonder how many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented by better safety standards at the construction site. Our personal injury attorneys explain what you should do following a job-related accident and share tips on what you can do to recover compensation while making the job site safer for everyone.
How Long Do I Have to Report an Accident to My Supervisor?
While California laws allow injured workers up to 30 days to report an injury or job-related illness to their employer, it is strongly recommended to do so as soon as possible. Serious or life-threatening injuries require immediate emergency medical care and non-life-threatening injuries should still be seen by a medical professional right away. Seeing the doctor is the first step you should take after a job site injury, followed by reporting the accident to your employer, preferably in writing.
If you or a co-worker have the opportunity to take pictures or video documenting the accident scene and recording any unsafe conditions that may have contributed to the accident, it may be in your best interest to do so. Not only this will count as evidence for your claim, but it can also help your employer correct the issue and make the job site safer for everyone. You may also want to retain a copy of your medical records and any important papers or forms related to your accident.
Who Is Financially Responsible for My Injuries?
While the laws in every state vary, California employers are required by law to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage for all their employees. If you are an employee who got injured on the job, you are eligible to receive financial coverage for your medical bills, lost wages, and ongoing treatment for as long as it is deemed medically necessary, with the goal of getting you back on your feet and having you return to work. The caveat is that – with very few exceptions – you are not able to file a personal injury civil suit against your employer if you are receiving workers’ comp benefits.
In order to receive workers’ comp benefits, you must follow the steps to report your accident to your employer. Employers are required to file a claim with their workers’ comp insurance carrier within 48 hours of receiving your report in writing, and you may be eligible for up to $10,000.00 of coverage for necessary medical treatments even before a decision about your claim is made. In short, the sooner you report, the sooner you may begin your recovery without having to pay out-of-pocket or use your own medical insurance.
What Happens If I Am an Independent Contractor Hurt On The Job?
Unfortunately, only workers with an employee status are covered by Worker’s Compensation insurance. If you are an independent contractor or subcontractor who suffered a construction injury, you may still be able to recover compensation for your accident, but you will likely need to file a civil suit as in a personal injury lawsuit in order to achieve that. This is where you may want to consult a personal injury attorney to see if you have a case.
Personal injury lawsuits are typically built on the grounds of negligence. If you can gather enough evidence to show that the party responsible for maintaining safety on the job site acted negligently and thus contributed to your accident, you may be able to receive compensation either through trial or through a settlement outside the courtroom. Alternatively, you may also file a claim with the company’s liability insurance rather than through their workers’ comp carrier. A skilled construction accident attorney can better determine the best path for you to pursue and how much money you may be eligible to receive.
What Should I Do If My Employer Doesn’t Carry Workers’ Comp?
First, check what your state laws say about whether workers’ compensation coverage is mandatory or not. In California, it just so happens that uninsured employers can quickly find themselves in deep waters, because failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance is a criminal offense classified as a misdemeanor, and can result in thousands of dollars in fines and even jail time. More specifically, an uninsured employer may have to pay a $10,000.00 fine and/or spend a year in county jail, in addition to paying another fine to the state – up to $100,000.00.
If you have been injured at a construction job site and found out your employer does not have workers’ comp coverage, it is fundamental you seek the help of a seasoned personal injury and workers’ comp law firm as soon as possible. You may be eligible to file a civil suit in addition to a workers’ comp claim. Your attorney can work with you to understand the details of what happened and all the circumstances leading to your accident and injury, and then seek compensation on your behalf. The legal team at Thon, Beck, Vanni, Callahan & Powell has helped countless injured construction workers to get the compensation they need to fully recover and get on with life. Contact us for a no-commitment consultation to learn your options.