Who Can I Sue If I Was Injured in a Construction Accident in California?

Generally, in case of construction accident injury, you can sue any person or entity other than your employer. If you were injured at a construction site in California, there are several parties you may consider suing, depending on the circumstances of the injury.

  • Property Owner or General Contractor
  • Subcontractors and Employers
  • Manufacturers and Suppliers
  • Architects and Engineers
  • Government Entities

Whether you are a worker or a general visitor to the construction site, the owner of the site owes you a duty of ordinary care.

Types of Injuries Covered Under Construction Accidents in California

In California, workers’ compensation laws provide coverage for a wide range of construction accident injuries. These laws are designed to protect employees who are injured on the job, including those working in the construction industry. Some of the common types of construction accident injuries covered under workers’ compensation laws in California include:

  • Traumatic Physical Injuries, such as fractures, lacerations, sprains, and strains from falls or accidents, are usually covered by workers’ compensation.
  • Repetitive Stress Injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis resulting from repetitive tasks, can also be covered if work-related.
  • Occupational Illnesses caused by exposure to hazardous materials may include respiratory illnesses and skin disorders.
  • Back and Spinal Injuries, such as damage from heavy lifting, can be covered for medical treatment and rehabilitation through workers’ compensation.
  • Other construction-related injuries include head and brain injuries, burns and electrical injuries, and loss of limbs or amputations.

Workers’ compensation usually covers the medical treatment, rehabilitation, and disability benefits for these types of injuries.

Construction Accidents in California
Construction Accidents in California

How to Establish Fault in a Construction Accident Case in California

To establish fault, you need to determine whether any of the parties involved breached their duty of care. For example, did they fail to maintain a safe work environment, provide adequate training, or adhere to industry safety standards?

Another way is to assess whether the parties involved complied with state and federal safety regulations, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) standards. Besides identifying the parties responsible, one needs to understand what exactly went wrong and how the lapses led to an accident at the construction site.

What Damages I Can Claim in Construction Accident in California

In a construction accident case in California, various damages can be claimed for compensation.

  • Economic damages include medical expenses (current and future), lost wages, and potential loss of earning capacity.
  • Non-economic damages cover pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium. 
  • Punitive damages may be awarded for extreme negligence or intentional misconduct to punish and deter the responsible party.
  • In cases of construction accident fatalities, certain family members can seek compensation for funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and companionship.

The damages recoverable in a construction accident case depend on the unique circumstances and injuries. Consulting with an attorney will help assess applicable damages and develop a strategy for fair compensation.

What to Do If the Construction Accident Injury Was Partly Due to My Fault

The rule of comparative negligence is applied to construction accidents too. This implies that even if you are partially at fault for the accident, you can still seek compensation. However, your total compensation will be reduced by an amount that reflects your percentage of fault. For example, if you are found to be 20% at fault, your total compensation will be reduced by 20%.

What is the Statute of Limitations in a Construction Accident Case in California

For personal injury claims, including those arising from construction accidents, the general statute of limitations is two years from the date of the injury. However, if the injury was not immediately discovered, the statute of limitations can be one year from the date the injury was discovered.

When suing a government agency for personal injury or property damage, an administrative claim must be filed within six months of the date of the injury. If the claim is denied, there is a 6-month window to file a lawsuit from the date of the denial. If no rejection letter is received, there is a 2-year period to file from the date of the incident.

What Should I Do After Being In A Construction Accident?

If you’ve been involved in a construction accident, it’s crucial to take certain steps to protect your well-being and legal rights. Here’s a guide on what to do after being in a construction accident:

  • Seek medical attention
  • Report the accident
  • Gather information
  • Do Not Sign Anything without legal advice
  • Consult with a construction accident attorney
  • Preserve evidence
  • Know your rights and follow legal deadlines
  • Document your recovery and prioritize your well-being

Take legal advice early after a construction accident to protect your rights and receive guidance for seeking compensation and recovery

What if I Was Injured While Working as an Independent Contractor on a Construction Site?

In California, independent contractors are not usually eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, misclassification as an independent contractor can happen. It’s important to consult a lawyer to determine if you have been misclassified, as this could impact your ability to seek workers’ compensation benefits.

As an independent contractor, you may have the option to file a liability claim against the party responsible for your injury. This could be the property owner, general contractor, or other subcontractors. An attorney can help you assess liability and decide on the best course of action. Review any contractual agreements or documents related to your work on the construction site. These documents may include provisions about liability, insurance requirements, and dispute resolution mechanisms.

I Was Injured at the Construction Site due to My Employer’s Negligence, But They Don’t Have Worker’s Compensation Insurance. What should I do?

In the absence of workers’ compensation insurance, you may have the option to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against your employer for the injuries sustained. Your attorney can evaluate the details of the accident and determine the viability of a legal claim based on your employer’s negligence. Your employer has a legal responsibility to provide a safe work environment, and if their negligence led to your injury, they may be held liable for damages. Your attorney can help gather evidence to support your claim and build a strong compensation case.

What are My Options If I am Unable to Work After a Construction Accident Injury in California?

If you are unable to work after a construction accident in California, the following are your options for seeking compensation and support.

  • File a Workers’ Compensation Claim: If you were injured while working, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Report your injury to your employer and file a workers’ compensation claim. Even if your employer did not have workers’ compensation insurance, you may still be able to seek benefits through the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund (UEBTF).
  • Explore Disability Benefits: If you are unable to work due to your injuries, you may be eligible for disability benefits. In California, you can explore options such as State Disability Insurance (SDI) or Employment Development Department (EDD) benefits. A legal or financial professional can help you navigate these processes.

Will My Construction Accident Case Settle Out of Court or I Will Have to Go to Trial

Whether a construction accident case settles out of court or goes to trial depends on various factors, including the specifics of the case, the willingness of the parties to negotiate, and the strength of the evidence. If the evidence strongly supports your claim and liability is clear, the opposing party may be more inclined to settle rather than risk an unfavorable outcome at trial. The extent of your injuries, the associated medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages will also factor into the negotiation process and the potential for a settlement.

What Should I Do if I am Unhappy with the Outcome of My Case

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your construction accident case, there are steps you can take to address your concerns and explore potential options for recourse.

  • Evaluate Grounds for Appeal: If you believe that the outcome of your case was affected by legal errors, procedural irregularities, or other issues, your attorney can assess whether there are grounds for filing an appeal. An appeal seeks to have a higher court review and potentially overturn the lower court’s decision based on legal errors.
  • Seek a Second Opinion: If you have reservations about the handling of your case or the advice provided by your current attorney, you may consider seeking a second opinion from another legal professional to gain a fresh perspective on your options.
  • Explore Alternative Dispute Resolution: If your case was resolved through a settlement, and you are dissatisfied with the terms or the negotiation process, you may explore alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration, to seek a more satisfactory resolution.

Take the time to carefully review the judgment or settlement agreement to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the terms and implications. Your attorney can assist you in this process and address any ambiguities.