Are you a worker at a construction site or an innocent bystander who has been injured through no fault of your own? We are experienced construction accident attorneys in Los Angeles who understand the law governing construction site injuries and can help you with your claim.
If you are a worker, your options might be limited under California’s worker’s compensation laws, however, you may also have third-party claims in a personal injury lawsuit. We can help you make the best decisions possible and help you understand the various options available to you.
We represent workers in all types of construction industries:
Whether you were injured at a construction site in Los Angeles or elsewhere in the state of California, give us a call for a free consultation at (213) 891-0777.
Compensation for Construction Injuries
Under California Law, injuries sustained at work must be reported to the employer who then asks the worker to fill out a worker’s compensation claim. However, if negligence was a factor in an injury, an additional personal injury claim can be made. Your injury may follow one of two paths:
1. Worker’s Compensation
Your employer is required by the State of California to have worker’s comp insurance that will cover injuries on the job. When the injury is due to an accident where no third party was at fault, a worker’s comp claim is pursued to help the injured cover medical treatment.
2. Worker’s Compensation + Personal Injury Lawsuit
In cases where a worker is injured due to a defective product or negligence of another party such as a subcontractor, the worker can file a worker’s comp claim and bring a lawsuit against the negligent party. For example, if scaffolding was defective and caused you to fall, you may have a claim against the manufacturer or a subcontractor who assembled it.
3. Expected Amounts
It is difficult to say how much you can be compensated for your injuries without knowing the circumstances. Compensation amounts vary depending on the severity of your injuries, the circumstances surrounding what happened, how, and why. Only an evaluation by an attorney can give you a rough idea of what to expect.
Generally speaking, a personal injury claim may compensate for:
Pain and Suffering – discomfort and duration of your injuries
Loss of Companionship (where a family member dies)
Lost earnings (typically provided by the deceased)
Types of Construction Accidents
We handle a wide range of construction injury cases for workers and private citizens, including claims involving:
Injuries associated with various types of cranes including falling objects, wrecks, electrocutions and being run over by moving cranes.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that as many as 72 people were killed in crane-related accidents in 2006 alone. The majority of these deaths were due to contact with objects or equipment such as falling objects and getting caught by equipment. There is no doubt that work around cranes is dangerous, however, most deaths can be attributed to human error.
A 2006 study released by Drexel University that was featured in the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management points to the following causes of crane-related fatalities between 1997 and 2003:
32% of workers killed were struck by a crane’s load;
27% were electrocuted due to failure to maintain a safe clearance (boom and cable contact);
21% were killed during disassembly. It is not clear what type of crane was involved (tower, overhead, gantry);
11% were killed when a crane tipped over due to being overloaded, lost the center of gravity, suffered outrigger failure or was improperly maintained;
The rest of the fatalities were attributed to either being struck by a cab or falling due to improper operation or maintenance.
Improper use, maintenance, and supervision were all attributed to a large number of injuries related to cranes.
Construction Site Electrocutions
Electrocution is one of the leading causes of crane-related accidents and makes up a smaller number of total construction-related deaths. Examples of electrocution include:
An aluminum ladder coming in contact with power lines;
Drilling equipment coming in contact with high voltage lines;
A worker is electrocuted when he attempts to assist another electrocuted worker operating a concrete pumping machine that comes in contact with high voltage lines;
Workers who get killed while servicing an electrical service box.
Workers who are typically affected the most are:
Supervisors who have little knowledge about electrical intricacies,
Various workers who happen to be affected by the negligent behavior of another subcontractor.
Fault is not always easily attributed in electrical accidents. For example, a worker who came in contact with a buried high voltage line may receive severe burns. A quick glance at this case may suggest that it’s the worker’s fault for receiving the burns since he did not properly assess where the lines were buried. Even if a supervisor is found at fault, a worker’s comp claim may be the only path. However, if we consider the worker’s clothes for a moment, we might discover that the fabric that should have been manufactured correctly (and was advertised as flame-retardant) was not in fact in any way specially designed to prevent from continuous burning. In this case, the worker may have a product liability suit against the manufacturer. Had his clothes been indeed fire-retardant, the worker might not have suffered as severe burns as he has.
Our attorneys have dealt with product liability cases where clothing was not properly manufactured and resulted in burns. We examine every little detail to find out who or what was actually responsible for your pain and suffering.
Workers who have been exposed to electric shock should seek medical attention to rule out any internal damage when everything appears to be fine. Families of electrocution victims can seek compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. In either case, our attorneys are here to help you.
Injuries from Operating or Moving Equipment
Some of the more widely feared scenarios in construction are being run over by heavy machinery or operating equipment. The sheer weight of vehicles used to complete various tasks can cause severe damage to a human body and in many cases crush victims to death. Horrific injuries and outcomes of these incidents are always very difficult to cope with for both the victim and his/her family. Besides the draining emotional damage, families are left to struggle financially as they try to piece their lives together in any meaningful way possible.
The construction accident lawyers at Fisher & Talwar understand these challenges and know what is required to make victims and families financially whole. If necessary, we are prepared to take your case to the jury to prove negligence in order to get you the maximum compensation possible.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), each year 4,500 workers are injured and 60 killed in scaffolding-related accidents. Falling and being struck by falling objects comprised 72 percent of these accidents and were for the most part preventable.
Most common types of scaffolding accidents:
Frame, outrigger, or plank failure in supported scaffolds. BLS estimates that at least a quarter of workers who regularly work on scaffolds have never received any training.
Collapse of suspended scaffolds due to overloading or faulty parts.
Instability of manlift or hoist-type scaffolds resulting in collapse or contact with power lines (electrocution).
Electrocution, falling tools and falls from high elevation all result in serious injuries and most often death.
Workers who suffer injuries from scaffolding that wasn’t installed correctly may find themselves out of work, stuck with huge medical bills and suffer emotionally. We can only experience a tiny fraction of the emotional dismay our clients go through, however, we understand what it means for them and their families to get justice.
Families want to send a message.
The common factor between families who lost a loved one is that they never want to see it happen to anyone else. For them, lawsuits are about sending a message to responsible parties – to say that what happened is unacceptable and should never have occurred.
We sympathize with clients affected by construction injuries and do everything in our power to help them get some type of closure.
Welders are frequently exposed to toxic welding fumes.
Construction workers face extra challenges of dealing directly with materials and chemicals that are toxic to our bodies. Some of the dangers have been around for a while like asbestos, silica, and benzene. Others are new, making it difficult for workers to be aware of toxins around them.
As technology changes and new construction products enter the market, the challenge of staying updated on hazardous material awareness is ever-growing. Toxins that make their way into a worker’s body can be responsible for a slew of health conditions including organ damage, neurological impairments, respiratory problems, cancers, and birth defects.
Negligence issues arise out of improper oversight, lack of training, and safety equipment. If you are a construction worker who has been exposed to toxic substances, you may be able to get compensation for your injuries. Talking to an attorney is the first and most important step after seeking medical treatment.
Volatile Organic Compounds – used in resins, paints, and adhesives. Examples of VOCs include formaldehyde, toluene, isocyanates, and xylene. These carbon-based chemicals evaporate into the air and are inhaled by workers. Prolonged exposure to VOCs in construction is suspected to cause cancer in humans.
Zinc – used in construction as a protective coating for galvanized steel. Toxic fumes byproduct of welding. Not much is known about the long-term effects of inhaling large amounts of zinc dust, but damage to organs is suspected.
Cadmium – a toxic metal found in some industrial paints, often used as an anti-corrosive. Long term effects of exposure include lung and prostate cancer, kidney damage, pulmonary emphysema, and osteoporosis.
Beryllium – exposure to high levels of this mineral can cause life-long respiratory diseases. Used in a wide range of industries including aircraft manufacturing, dental laboratories, computer, and telecommunications (More on Beryllim Toxicity).
Iron Oxide – used in the manufacturing of steel and poses a danger during the welding process when fumes from base metal and electrode enter the throat and lungs.
Mercury – some may know it as the substance in an old school thermometer, mercury is sometimes used in marine paints to help prevent rusting of metals. Mercury poses danger in construction when workers are exposed to welding fumes. Long term exposure is known to damage hearing and sometimes produce tumors.
Lead – although phased out of most household paints, lead poisoning continues to pose danger to construction workers working with roofing materials, tank linings, and lead-bearing alloys. In most cases, the worker inhales fumes while welding. Long term damage includes disruption of central nervous system functions, reproductive functions, and kidneys. (Lead in Construction – OSHA publication)
Fluorides – fluxes used for welding can contain fluoride compounds that can cause pulmonary edema when exposed to repeatedly.
Chlorinated Hydrocarbon Solvents – degreasers and cleaning compounds often contain chlorinated hydrocarbons. When heated, certain solvents turn into toxic phosgene gas that when absorbed can cause Tachycardia (excessive heart rate), Hypotension (low blood pressure), and acute respiratory distress. Methylene Chloride, a common solvent in pain strippers is often inhaled by workers in confined spaces. Exposure to Methylene Chloride can cause liver and kidney damage.
Carbon Monoxide – carbon monoxide poisoning is particularly common in workers who occupy confined spaces without proper ventilation. Those that come in contact with incompletely burned natural gas, oil, coal, wood, propane, and gasoline can all be exposed to CO. Carbon Monoxide in construction can be encountered by welders, diesel engine operators, and forklift operators.
Nitrogen Oxides – affects construction workers who frequently use heavy diesel-powered machinery. This toxic gas forms when burning fuels such as gas, diesel, and coal. Exposure to high concentration may result in respiratory problems including pulmonary edema (fluid in lungs).
The owners of a home in San Rafael, CA will have to do more renovations to their property than they planned after a contractor’s torch caught the home on fire. The contractor was performing a procedure to create a waterproof seal on the deck of the home that required him to melt building materials with a torch. Due to the fact that the wood of the deck and the home’s frame were considerably old, the torch ignited the deck and the fire quickly spread up the side of the home, which also caused charring to the home’s interior.
Fortunately, nobody was injured in the blaze, which was eventually put out by emergency responders.
The Seriousness of Fires
Part of what makes fires so dangerous is the types of injuries that they can cause. Victims of house fires who are unable to exit the home before the fire spreads face the risk of burns and smoke inhalation. Burns are dangerous because, along with causing excruciating pain, they can diminish the body’s ability to keep the body free from infection and disease. The skin is the body’s first line of defense against germs and other microorganisms, but it becomes weak when it is burned. This is why serious burn victims have to take special steps to protect their skin following a burn injury – because once an area of skin is burned, it will never again recover to full strength.
Smoke inhalation is dangerous because it prevents the body from being able to get the oxygen that it needs to survive. Even exposure to smoke for a short period of time can cause a person to blackout and, worse yet, suffer permanent brain damage. As one might imagine, blacking out while trying to escape a house fire can have devastating consequences.
When Victims Sustain Burn Injuries
While there were no injuries caused by the house fire described above, the incident serves as a reminder, particularly to construction contractors, about the risks of working on an old home with an open flame. News reports made a special point of mentioning how quickly the fire spread. This time, everyone was able to get away from the fire without incident, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, it is not always possible to alert all of the occupants of a dwelling to the fact that there is a fire.
Had the facts in the case been different, and had the owners or residents of the home, or even another construction contractor, been injured by the flames, the contractor who started the fire would be facing some serious civil liability.
Special Legal Considerations for Contractors
Usually, the law allows victims injured in fires caused by the negligence or recklessness of company employees to pursue damages in civil court from the employee’s employer. However, if the person responsible for a fire is a private contractor, that person will generally be directly and solely responsible for paying any damages to a victim ordered by a court. Damages that victims can usually expect are those for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, and certain other damages as the facts dictate and the law allows.
Workers who build new structures or repair existing ones are at risk of being injured in a structural / building collapse. Such accidents are not too common but do happen. Unfortunately, building collapses cause grave injuries and often result in fatalities. Workers injured due to lack of structural integrity at a construction site may have a case against negligent parties or product manufacturers who provided defective parts or tools.
Who’s to blame?
Structural integrity responsibility typically lies with the construction company in charge of the project. However, there are cases where defective construction products are to blame.
Demolitions – one of the more common causes of injuries in planned building collapses. Improper inspection of the building can place workers at risk when working in a building not suited to be occupied. Companies can be found negligent for taking shortcuts and doing things without following guidelines – thus putting their workers in harm’s way.
Renovations, repairs, new construction – companies are required to take proper care when evaluating new or existing building sites. On many occasions cheap materials of poor quality are selected to save money, creating a recipe for disaster. Cheap materials and or negligent oversight may result in foundation failure, causing the entire structure to shift and come down, trapping, and crushing workers.
Structural Collapses by Numbers:
An OSHA report encompassing the time period between 1990 and 2008 stated that:
Majority of structural collapses were caused by contractors not following installation procedures recommended by manufacturers and designers;
20 percent of incidents occurred due to structural design flaws;
Steel structures such as scaffolds and platforms were involved in over 60 percent of collapses.
Negligently or Poorly Maintained Work Sites
With strict deadlines and large sums of money on the line, companies put profits over people by not ensuring the safety of their workers. Properly trained workers often end up working alongside unqualified subcontractors who put everyone at risk for injuries.
The majority of these injuries are avoidable and often come at a great cost to the victims and their families. Construction accident attorneys at Fisher & Talwar understand the issues affecting workers and their families and will do everything possible to get them the money they require to move on with their lives.
If you have been injured as a worker on a construction site, we can help you determine whether you can file a personal injury lawsuit in addition to a workers’ comp claim. We understand the circumstances where this option is available and will use all our resources to get full and fair compensation for your injuries.
We Can Help
Our Los Angeles construction injury attorneys handle all types of personal injury claims arising in a construction environment, from soft tissue to serious and catastrophic injuries, such as amputation or loss of limb, spinal cord injury or paralysis, and closed-head or traumatic brain injury (TBI). We also represent individuals and families in wrongful death litigation.
We take construction accident cases on a contingency fee basis. The attorney’s fee that we charge you will be a percentage of the amount we recover for your injury. No recovery means no fee.
Do you need help? Perhaps you have a simple question? Give us a call as it’s free and without any obligations. We have helped many individuals just like you. (213) 891-0777