Victims of construction accidents must obtain maximum compensation for their injuries. How much that is depends on a number of factors.
An injured construction worker can obtain substantial construction accident settlement compensation when filing lawsuits against the individuals, entities, or companies responsible for their injuries. While workers' compensation benefits only pay medical benefits and a portion of lost wages, the full work injury claim process allows victims to secure compensation for medical expenses, lost income, lost future income or earning capacity as well as pain and suffering, which is not covered in a workers' compensation claim.
In construction accident cases, a third-party lawsuit against a person or entity that is not the employer can be worth significantly more than workers' compensation benefits.
Key Points - Table of Contents
- What is My Construction Accident Settlement Worth?
- What Factors Impact a Construction Accident Settlement?
- Who is Responsible for my Construction Accident?
- How Does Fault Affect Your Construction Accident Settlement?
- Proving Fault in a Construction Accident Case
- How Construction Lawyers Help With Settlements
- Why Should You Hire a Work Injury Lawyer?
What is My Construction Accident Settlement Worth?
When you set out to determine the value of your construction accident claim, it is important that you estimate the value of your actual damages. In California, in addition to economic damages, construction accident victims filing a lawsuit against a third party, can also seek compensation for pain and suffering and other losses.
Construction accident victims may be able to recover financial compensation for:
Medical bills and expenses: This includes emergency transportation and treatment costs, hospitalization, costs related to surgeries, diagnosis, doctor's office visits, medical treatments, medication and medical equipment. If you have been injured, it is important to make sure you preserve all invoices and documentation relating to your medical treatment and expenses.
Rehabilitative care: Often, injuries suffered at construction sites are severe enough to require lengthy and extensive rehabilitation such as physical therapy and occupational therapy. However, health insurance policies don't usually cover these expenses. Therefore, the injured victim may have to pay these costs out of pocket. It is important to learn about your legal rights after a work injury to help make sure all of your expenses are compensated.
Loss of current and future income: In addition to seeking compensation for current income lost, a construction worker can also seek compensation for lost future income and lost earning capacity, especially if they've suffered life-changing injuries that would keep them from returning to their job.
Permanent injuries and disabilities: If a construction worker has suffered permanent injuries such as limb amputations, disabilities that would prevent him or her from returning to work and disfigurement caused by injuries such as burns, additional compensation may be available.
Past and future pain and suffering: This refers to compensation for the physical pain and mental suffering endured by victims of construction accidents.
Loss of consortium: This is paid to victims' partners or spouses for loss of companionship, comfort, sexual relations or the ability to have children as a result of the injury.
Loss of life's enjoyment: This refers to the victim's ability to enjoy life as he or she did prior to the construction accident.
Cost of ongoing care: Whether you have suffered major injuries such as brain trauma or broken bones, you will require rehabilitative treatment and care on your path to recovery. These costs often add up very quickly and patients frequently pay these expenses out of pocket, which could be extremely burdensome. These are expenses that should be compensated as part of your settlement as well.
What Factors Impact a Construction Accident Settlement?
Each construction accident case is unique and depends on a variety of factors. The amount of financial compensation you may be able to receive depends on a number factors including:
- The extent of your injuries and the expenses relating to your current and future medical treatment. In addition, if you suffered catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injury, paralysis or loss of limbs, you may be entitled to additional damages.
- The effect or impact your construction accident injuries have on your everyday activities and lifestyle. If you need to make significant changes to continue you normal activities and need to make changes to your living space such as install wheelchair ramps and so on, you may be entitled to additional compensation.
- Whether you are able to return to work or if you have lost the capacity to earn. In some cases, workers may never be able to return to the job they had before the accident simply because of their disabilities. In other situations, they may not even be able to work or make a living.
Who is Responsible for my Construction Accident?
Anyone suffering from injuries after a construction accident should learn how they can pursue compensation. Depending on the nature and circumstances of an accident, there are a number of third parties who can be held liable for a construction accident including:
Construction company: Typically, a number of different entities are involved in a construction project. Usually, there is a construction company or general contractor who is running the project. For example, if a construction company violates safety standards at a worksite and workers are injured as a result of such negligence, the construction company may be held liable. One tragic example of such negligence is failing to provide fall safety devices for workers such as harnesses, safety nets, toeholds and guardrails. Falls are the most common cause of fatal construction accidents. Construction companies have a duty to make sure sites are safely maintained.
Contractors or subcontractors: While there is usually a construction company or general contractor in charge, there are a number of contractors and subcontractors involved in a construction project to do a number of different jobs on the site such as electrical work, painting, carpentry, etc. In some cases, construction accidents could be caused by one of these contractors or subcontractors. For example, if a subcontractor dropped a tool that struck and injured a worker below, that contractor could be held liable for the injuries and damages caused.
Manufacturer of equipment or machinery: Construction sites typically use a variety of machinery and equipment. When a malfunctioning piece of machinery or equipment causes a worker's injury, the manufacturer of the equipment or the defective part could be held liable as well.
Property owner: If the construction accident was caused by a defective condition on the property, then the property owner and/or the manager can be held liable for the injuries, damages and losses caused.
Governmental agency: Sometimes, a city, county or other governmental agency could also be held liable for a construction accident. For example, if the accident was caused by a dangerous condition on a property owned by a governmental agency, that entity could be held accountable. Under California Government Code, any personal injury or wrongful death claim against a governmental entity must be filed within 180 days of the accident.
How Does Fault Affect Your Construction Accident Settlement?
Most construction accident cases do not go to trial, but are settled out of court. The size of your settlement could depend on your ability to prove fault and liability. In order to be successful with a settlement, the plaintiff will need to prove that the defendant's negligence caused his or her injuries. In personal injury cases, including in construction accident cases, the plaintiff has the burden of proof to show that the defendant was negligent and that his or her negligence caused the worker's injuries and losses.
Here are some examples of negligence on the part of third parties:
- A construction company that failed to provide workers with fall safety equipment.
- A sub-contractor who built sub-standard scaffolding that collapsed and injured workers.
- A property owner who allowed dangerous condition to exist, leading to the worker's injury
- A manufacturing defect in a piece of equipment caused a worker's injuries
Negligence occurs when a person or entity does not fulfill their duty of care. If you have been injured in a construction accident, it would be in your best interest to retain the services of an experienced California work injury lawyer who will improve your chances of receiving the maximum possible settlement.
A vast majority of construction accident cases, like all personal injury cases, do not end up going to trial. Most of these cases are settled out of court. This is why your ability as the plaintiff to prove fault could have an impact on the size of your settlement. If you do not have significant or telling evidence to prove negligence in your construction accident case, that might mean that you may have a tough time proving your case to the jury. This essentially takes away your leverage.
In other words, the defendant's lawyer will know that you may have a difficult time proving your case to a jury. So, you are likely to receive a lower settlement offer. Construction accident settlements depend on your attorney's ability to gather, compile and present evidence in a manner that gives you more power to negotiate. When you have strong evidence, you have more leverage.
Your construction accident lawyer can also advise you on whether to accept your offer or take the case to trial. Without your lawyer's experience and knowledge on your side, it may be difficult to determine whether you are getting a fair settlement that will cover all your losses.
Proving Fault in a Construction Accident Case
In order to obtain a construction accident settlement, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant is liable for his or her injuries. This means the plaintiff has the burden of proof to show that the defendant was negligent and that negligence resulted in his or her injuries and losses.
In a construction accident, negligence could mean that the defendant failed to follow safety standards on a job site or failed to provide a worker with proper protective equipment. For example, if a worker suffers a fall at a construction site that was caused by lack of safety harnesses, safety nets or guardrails, that amounts to negligence. Negligence refers to the failure of a person or entity to fulfill their duty of care to another. Another example of negligence is when a product manufacturer makes a defective product that causes serious injuries.
It may be in your best interest to retain the services of an experienced construction accident lawyer in California who will be able to prove negligence and enhance your chances of receiving a fair and full settlement. In addition to proving that a third party was negligent and caused your construction accident, you must also show that such negligence directly caused your injuries and the resulting losses.
How Construction Lawyers Help With Settlements
In California, personal injury claims including work injury claims that are filed against third-party defendants, are based on fault. In order to recover compensation, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant was negligent or engaged in a wrongful act. Fault is not a factor in a workers' compensation claim.
An injured construction worker does not need to prove liability to receive workers' compensation benefits. However, if you are bringing a personal injury lawsuit against a third party in a construction accident lawsuit, you will have to prove that the individual's or entity's negligence or wrongdoing caused your accident and injury. This is why it is very important to find out if you can obtain workers compensation benefits, sue your employer, and sue a third party.
One of the biggest factors that will affect the value of your construction accident settlement is whether or not you are represented by an experienced Los Angeles construction accident attorney. The settlement amount you get to keep will largely depend upon your level of representation and the fee agreement worked out with your attorney.
More often than not, insurance companies and construction companies are unlikely to offer fair and full settlements to an injured construction worker. Since plaintiffs have the burden of proof in these cases, they will be required to present evidence that proves liability, provide documentation that establishes the value of the damages and convince the defendant that it is worth settling the case.
Why Should You Hire a Work Injury Lawyer?
The caliber and track record of your lawyer could have a significant impact on the size of your construction accident settlement. Because plaintiffs have the burden of proof in these cases, they need the guidance and counsel of an experienced lawyer who can help them navigate a complex process successfully.
The award winning Los Angeles construction accident lawyers at Greenberg and Ruby can help you present a well-documented claim that will help you secure maximum compensation for your construction accident settlement.
They understand the turmoil and challenges construction accident victims and their families face in the aftermath of an accident.
They will help fight for your rights every step of the way and make sure your best interests are protected. Call (323) 782-0535 today for a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.