Workers face many dangers in the workplace, including falls, scaffolding accidents, machinery failures, and environmental hazards. You may feel overwhelmed and unsure of your rights if you’ve been injured on the job. Can you sue your employer? What about a general contractor or property owner? How long do you have to bring a case?
Personal injury attorney James Suits of Suits Litigation, Inc. helps hardworking San Jose-area employees and their families recover compensation for their injuries. If you’ve been injured, you need an experienced lawyer.
Employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance for every employee who regularly works in California. If you suffer a work-related injury, illness, or condition, workers’ comp pays your medical expenses and reimburses you for lost wages. You receive these benefits regardless of who or what caused your injury – whether it was your fault, your employer’s fault, or no one’s fault.
You may be able to receive workers’ comp benefits even if you are a temporary or part-time worker, are designated as an “independent contractor,” or don’t have legal residency. If you have been denied or discouraged from pursuing a claim, you should contact an experienced attorney immediately.
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation does not compensate you for non-economic damages like pain and suffering, and it rarely pays enough to cover your losses completely. In most cases, you can’t sue your employer to make up the difference. However, you might be able to recover from another person or company.
Third-Party Liability for Accidents
Multiple factors contribute to causing unsafe situations on a job site or in the workplace. Sometimes, the actions or negligence of others on the job site cause accidents and injuries. You may be able to bring a legal claim against one or more of these “third parties” for damages.
- Property Owners: Under California law, a property owner can be held liable for damage caused by willful acts or a lack of ordinary care in property management. If the owner is aware of a hazard but fails to take reasonable care to fix it or warn those who may encounter it, they may be partially responsible for injuries that result.
For example, naturally occurring asbestos is common in California. Property owners who discover it on their land must take reasonable steps to inform a construction team before workers enter the job site and risk exposure.
- Other Contractors and Subcontractors: Often, worksites have many teams working side-by-side. Contractors that do not adhere to safety requirements can endanger everyone in the area. You might be able to file a lawsuit against another contractor if their policies and procedures created an unsafe working environment that caused your injuries.
For example, you may have a claim if your injury was caused by an employee using machinery and equipment in an unsafe manner under the supervision of their manager.
- Other Employees: If a coworker causes an injury by engaging in a willful and unprovoked physical act of aggression, or is intoxicated when the injury is caused, then you may be able to pursue a civil action directly against your coworker.
For example, you would probably have a case against an employee who came to work intoxicated and drove a forklift over your foot.
Product Liability and Defect Claims
Poorly designed, defective, or malfunctioning equipment leads to many workplace accidents. Catastrophic disasters like scaffold and ladder collapses, crane collapses, explosions, and electric shocks have resulted from equipment failure or poor design. Cases like these often involve extremely serious injuries.
If your injury was caused by a faulty tool, machinery, or other equipment, you might be able to bring a product liability claim against the manufacturer or producer of the product. These claims can recover significant monetary damage awards and penalties against manufacturers and can help prevent other tragedies.
Long-Term Illnesses and Injuries
Workers in many industries, including construction, have long-term risks as well as immediate dangers. Some illnesses and medical issues take many years to develop and diagnose. These include chemical sensitivity, hearing loss, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, and repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome or chronic pain.
You may be able to recover damages for these types of injuries from several sources, including asbestos compensation funds. You may be able to pursue legal action on your own behalf or join with others in a larger claim. It is important to retain an experienced attorney who can help you understand what may be available to you.
Recoverable Damages in Construction Accident or Workplace Injury Cases
If you have grounds for a claim, you may be able to recover compensation for both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are financial costs and expenses, including:
- Past and future medical care and treatment.
- Medical devices and equipment.
- Lost income, beginning with the accident and into the future.
- Lost future earning capacity.
- Costs of activities you can no longer do yourself, including household and family services.
- Expenses relating to disability accommodations (such as home or vehicle modifications).
- Childcare expenses related to medical care, illness, and treatment.
If you recover compensation for medical expenses and lost income previously paid or reimbursed by workers’ compensation, you may have to repay the insurance carrier. However, the recoverable economic damages in a third-party lawsuit may significantly exceed those covered by workers’ comp.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are all other losses related to an injury. These include compensation for:
- Pain and suffering.
- Mental and emotional distress.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Your spouse may be able to pursue a claim for loss of consortium (companionship, affection, and sexual relations).
If several parties share responsibility for the accident, they may share in the legal liability, and you may have multiple claims. If you are partially responsible, California’s comparative negligence law means that your percentage of fault will reduce your damages award. An experienced lawyer can help you sort out liability and evaluate your options for recovery.
Contact California Workplace Injury Lawyer James Suits Today
If you are a construction worker who has been injured on the job in the San Jose area, or if you suffer from an illness or disability caused by your work, contact James Suits. The Suits Litigation, Inc. team will fight for your rights and explore every option to recover the compensation you deserve.
California law gives you a limited time to bring a legal claim. To learn more about how we can help you, call us today to schedule an initial meeting.