Employers in California have a duty to maintain a safe work environment for their employees and when they fail to do so, serious occupational injuries or illnesses can occur. There are certain things you should know about your right to workers’ compensation benefits and the possibility of pursuing other damages following a California workplace accident. If you have been injured on-the-job in California, our experienced lawyers can assist you in getting the maximum payout you are entitled to for your work injury, whether that means filing a workers’ compensation claim or taking your case to court. Contact our firm today for a free initial consultation.
Common Types of Workplace Accidents
The types of injuries an employee may sustain in a workplace accident can vary a great deal depending on the nature of the employee’s work. For instance, construction workers are generally at a greater risk for falls from heights than office workers, who may be more prone to repetitive motion injuries. The following are some of the most common types of workplace accidents in California across all industries:
- Falls from heights – Workers on construction sites often find themselves in potentially dangerous situations, where they may be at risk for falling from a ladder, scaffolding, roof or some other height.
- Slip, trip and fall accidents – Employees performing virtually any kind of work can suffer injuries in a slip, trip and fall accident. This type of workplace accident includes everything from an employee slipping on a slippery surface, to tripping and falling or falling through a hole on a job site, among other slip, trip and fall incidents.
- Falling or flying objects – Employees on job sites who frequently work beneath cranes, scaffolding or other overhead work may be at risk for injuries caused by falling or flying objects.
- Cuts and punctures – Cuts and punctures sustained at work can result in damages to the ligaments, nerves, bones, muscles and blood vessels and treatment for such injuries can run into the thousands of dollars, depending on the nature and severity of the injury.
- Repetitive motion – Repetitive motion is the second most common cause of workplace injury in the state of California, resulting in injury to more than 31,000 California workers every year. Commonly known as repetitive stress injuries, these injuries can result in lasting damage to the nerves, ligaments, tendons or muscles.
- Lifting heavy objects – Lifting heavy objects at work can cause serious neck, back and shoulder injuries. These injuries can become chronic, resulting in pain that persists long after the lifting has stopped.
California Workers’ Compensation Claims
The California’s workers’ compensation program is designed to provide benefits to employees who are injured or harmed in the course of their employment. Workers’ compensation gives employees the right to file a claim to receive compensation for their medical bills and some of their lost wages following a work-related accident. The workers’ compensation system does provide injured employees with certain advantages. For instance, they are not required to prove that their employer was at fault for the accident in order to receive workers’ comp benefits. However, the flip side of that is that injured employees are barred from pursuing a lawsuit against their employer except under very specific circumstances, even if the workplace injury occurred because of the employer’s failure to maintain a safe work environment. That means the only recourse available to the majority of injured employees is to file a claim with the insurance company that underwrites their employer’s workers’ compensation policy. Unfortunately, some insurance companies act in bad faith by denying legitimate workers’ compensation claims or delaying payment, which is why it is always a good idea to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney after sustaining injuries in an on-the-job accident.
Third Party Liability for Work Injuries
Although workers’ compensation insurance provides the main route of justice for victims of workplace injuries or illnesses, there are some cases in which an injured worker can sue one or more third parties following a workplace accident, if those parties are partly responsible for the accident. For example, if a warehouse worker suffers injuries in an accident involving defective equipment, the equipment manufacturer may be partially liable for the worker’s injuries and may be susceptible to litigation. Or, if you are injured in a construction site fall accident caused by faulty scaffolding, you may be able to sue the company responsible for manufacturing or maintaining the scaffolding for damages. A civil suit may provide injured employees with a bigger payout, which could include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, punitive damages and other damages not available through a workers’ compensation claim. However, injured employees who file a suit in civil court lose the no-fault presumption, which means they must prove that the defendant was at fault for the accident in order to recover compensation.
Suing Your Employer for a Workplace Accident
There are also very specific situations in which an injured employee may be able to file a civil lawsuit against his or her employer following a worksite accident. One example of this is if you are injured as a result of your employer’s intentional misconduct. In this situation, you may be able to file a personal injury or premises liability lawsuit against your employer. Additionally, if your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, you may be able to file a lawsuit in civil court to recover compensation for any work injuries that would normally entitle you to workers’ comp benefits. When you hire our California workplace accident attorneys, we will ensure that you understand your legal rights and options under California law based on your specific work injury situation, so you can make an informed decision about which avenue to pursue.
Recovering Fair Compensation for Work Injuries
Serious workplace accidents occur far too frequently, often as a result of defective equipment or a dangerous condition that should have been addressed by the employer or property owner. Unfortunately, work injuries can have a lasting impact on the injured employee and his or her family, possibly resulting in costly medical expenses, permanent disability or even death. By consulting a knowledgeable workplace accident attorney, you can maximize the compensation you receive after sustaining a work injury and hold any negligent party or parties accountable for their actions. If you have suffered serious work injuries in a California job site accident, don’t hesitate to contact our firm. We know how devastating the consequences of a workplace accident can be for you and your loved ones and we will work tirelessly to protect your rights and assist you in recovering the compensation you deserve.