Construction site accident victims have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the individuals or entities responsible for their accident and injuries. Construction accident lawsuits allow victims of such traumatic incidents to seek and obtain compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, cost of rehabilitation, permanent injuries and pain and suffering. When an individual dies in an accident on a work site, his or her family can file a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible as well.
Such a lawsuit will allow surviving family members to get compensation for their tremendous losses. While workers' compensation typically covers medical bills and a portion of lost income, it is often woefully inadequate when it comes to fully compensating victims and their families. Injured workers and their families may still be able to file a construction accident lawsuit against the third party whose negligence or wrongdoing caused the accident.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
When a worker is injured on the job in a construction accident, he or she can file a personal injury lawsuit against the individuals or entities responsible for the incident. Workers and families can seek construction accident settlements through these lawsuits. The parties responsible for construction accidents depend on how the accident occurred and who was involved. Some of the individuals/entities that could be held liable in a construction accident include a property owner, construction company, general contractor, sub-contractor, equipment manufacturer, architect, engineer, a city or government agency, the manufacturer of a defective product, etc.
Personal injury claims in a construction accident case may be based on the following:
Negligence: Most personal injury claims including construction lawsuits are based on the principle of negligence. In order to prove negligence in a construction accident case, the plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care; that the defendant violated that duty of care through negligence or carelessness; and that the defendant's negligence was a significant factor in causing the accident and injuries.
Premises liability: Property owners and/or managers can be held responsible for construction accidents that occur on their property. Such entities have a responsibility to ensure that their premises are safe. They also have a duty to fix dangerous conditions on the property.
In order to prove premises liability, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owned or had control over the property where the injury occurred; that the defendant was negligent in not maintaining the property adequately; and that the plaintiff was harmed as a result of the property owner or manager's negligence. Examples of dangers on a property may include loose wires that cause an electrocution or broken railings or stairs that were not repaired in a timely manner.
Vicarious liability: Oftentimes, construction accidents are caused by negligent workers who are employed by a construction company or a contractor. While such employees are liable for their own actions, an employer can also be held vicariously liable for that worker's negligence. For example, if a worker fails to secure a tool and that drops and injures another worker, the construction company can be held vicariously liable for the worker's negligence.
Product liability: Construction accidents can also be caused by dangerous or defective products. Under product liability laws, the manufacturer, designer or seller of a defective product can be held liable for the injuries caused by that faulty product. Examples of defective products in a construction site are faulty saws that cause amputation injuries, a crane that might malfunction because of a manufacturing defect or devices that cause fires or explosions.
Damages in a Construction Accident Lawsuit
The damages in a construction lawsuit are typically monetary compensation to the injured victim for his or her losses. This may include compensatory damages, which are intended to make the plaintiff whole. This includes economic damages and noneconomic damages that may not have a particular monetary value.
Compensatory damages in a construction accident lawsuit include:
- Medical expenses: This may include any type of emergency transportation, hospitalization, surgery, medications, medical equipment, etc.
- Rehabilitative treatment: This may include any type of ongoing treatment and therapy that is needed for the victim to completely recover from his or her construction accident injuries. Examples of such treatment are physical therapy, occupational therapy and chiropractic care. Often, insurance won't pay these costs, which may add up very quickly.
- Long-term care: In cases where workers have suffered catastrophic injuries such as brain and spinal cord trauma, they may also be able receive compensation for round-the-clock nursing and other types of long-term care.
- Lost income: Workers who have suffered injuries severe enough that they have to take time off work can seek compensation for lost wages as well as lost future income, if they've suffered long-term disabilities that will prevent them from going back to work.
Non-economic damages include physical pain and suffering endured by the victim as well as the mental suffering he or she goes through as a result of the construction accident injuries. Other types of non-economic damages include injury to reputation, compensation for the loss of a limb, and loss of consortium. While it may be challenging to put a dollar amount on these types of losses, your Los Angeles construction accident lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and determine the amount of damages you could potentially seek.
In some cases, punitive damages may also be available. Such damages are typically awarded in incidents where the defendant's actions were egregious or intentional. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the plaintiff for his or her losses, but to punish the defendant and deter similar actions in the future.
Filing a Construction Accident Lawsuit
In cases where a construction worker has been injured on the job, he or she can file a lawsuit. In cases where the worker has died on the job, survivors of the victim can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendants. It is important to remember that even if the injury victim is partially to blame for the accident, he or she can file a lawsuit against others who also caused the accident. California's comparative fault law still allows the plaintiff to recover damages.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, the experienced Los Angeles construction attorneys at Greenberg & Ruby LLP can help you assess your options and protect your legal rights. We will fight for your rights and help you secure maximum compensation for your losses. Call us at (323) 782-0535 to schedule a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.