A construction site is one of the most dangerous places to be around, let alone work at. Roughly 150,000 workers get injured at construction sites each year, and only a small fraction of them are able to obtain the compensation they truly deserve.
Your ability to recover the maximum amount of workers’ compensation benefits after a construction site injury largely depends on the level of expertise and legal competence of your construction accident lawyer.
Some construction workers think that owners of properties where construction work takes place as well as general contractors who are supervising construction work are liable for all kinds of injuries that occur on the site. But this is a false assumption because there are certain limitations you must be aware of.
When construction workers are entitled to collect workers’ comp benefits
Today, we asked our experienced construction accident attorney in Los Angeles from Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg to explain the basics of California’s workers’ comp law when it comes to construction site injuries and fatalities.
Under California law, owners of properties on which construction work is being undertaken and the general contractor who supervises the work owe the following duties to construction workers:
- Provide a reasonably safe workplace and eliminate all known hazards;
- Provide warning about potential dangers and hazards that may not be open and obvious to construction workers;
- Maintain reasonably safe conditions at the construction site.
If failure to exercise ordinary care on the part of the property owner or general contractor results in a worker’s injury or death, the injured construction worker may be entitled to collect workers’ comp benefits.
Construction workers cannot sue their employer for injuries
However, here is something many construction workers in California do not realize. Under California law, construction workers are prohibited from suing their employer or construction site owner if their employer has workers’ comp insurance.
Therefore, their only legal recourse to recover compensation is to seek workers’ comp benefits. One of the biggest downsides of construction workers not being able to sue their employer for injuries is that they will not be able to recover such damages as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages that are normally recoverable in construction accident litigation.
The liability of property owners and general contractors is limited
Under California’s workers’ compensation law, injured workers are not required to prove fault in order to collect benefits. They only need to prove that their injury or illness is work-related. Had the construction worker sued a property owner or general contractor through filing a personal injury lawsuit, he or she would be required to prove their employer’s fault (which is always tricky if you are not represented by a Los Angeles construction accident attorney).
Contrary to the popular belief, an injured construction worker cannot normally hold an owner or general contractor liable for his or her injury solely based on their failure to provide a warning of a dangerous condition that was or should have been open and obvious to the worker.
However, if the property owner or general contractor knew or should have known about a dangerous condition, which resulted in injury, their duty was to exercise ordinary care and correct the condition regardless of how obvious the danger was.
Also, a general contractor and property owner’s duty may be reduced if control is delegated to a sub-contractor. Therefore, if the owner of the property on which construction takes place or general contractor passed on total supervision and control to a sub-contractor, the latter will normally be held liable for any injuries at the construction site.
If you have been injured at a construction site, consult with skilled lawyers from the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg to find out more about the liability of construction property owners and general contractors in California. Get a free consultation from our attorneys by calling at 310-997-0904 today.