According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are roughly 150,000 construction site injuries that occur each year. Although some of these accidents are minor, many are life-altering injuries that can devastate someone’s life forever. Even though state and federal regulations have been implemented in California to ensure the safety and effectiveness of construction sites, construction accidents still remain too common.
If you have recently been injured while working at a construction site in California, you may be wondering if you are able to file for workers’ compensation.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is insurance that provides injured workers pay for medical treatment and lost wages if they are unable to work as they recover from their injuries.
The workers’ compensation system in California operates under a “no-fault” system. Therefore, an injured worker can be eligible for insurance benefits regardless of who caused the work injury. A worker in California is also able to receive compensation even if they were responsible for their own workplace injury.
Worker Protection Under California Workers’ Compensation Laws
The workers’ compensation system in California provides specific types of benefits for the following:
- Medical Bills: This includes doctor’s visits, medication, tests, hospital stays, travel costs, physical rehabilitation, and ambulance rides. Workers in California are reimbursed for traveling to medical appointments at a rate of 54 cents per mile.
- Temporary Disability: Temporary disability benefits are paid to an injured worker that may have to take time away from work. These benefits provide partial compensation for lost wages. An injured worker can be paid temporary disability benefits for a maximum of two years after the date of the injury.
- Permanent Disability: Permanent disability payments are made to California workers whose injury affects their ability to return to their former position or participate in the same position at a different workplace. If a worker is unable to completely recover from the injury, they could then be entitled to permanent disability benefits. Permanent disability benefits, depending on your disability, can last anywhere from four weeks to 14 years.
- Vocational Rehabilitation: Vocational rehabilitation is a federal-state program that assists workers who can no longer return to their previous jobs and are not offered an alternative employment option at their previous job. You may be eligible for VR services if your physical or mental disability interferes with the ability to become employed in California.
Can I File a Third-Party Work Injury Claim For a Construction Accident?
According to the San Bernardino workers’ compensation attorneys at DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo, an injury victim may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court if an injury is caused by someone other than their employer or coworker.
Some examples of third-party claims include:
- An injury was caused by a defective product
- An injury was caused by a contractor or subcontractor
A third-party personal injury lawsuit may be available depending on the situation. It is important to gather all documentation needed after the construction accident to start your workers’ compensation claim.
Can I Be Terminated For Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
According to Labor Code Section 132a, terminating and/or discriminating against a worker for filing a workers’ compensation claim is strictly prohibited. If an employer does retaliate against an employee, the worker can take legal action for lost wages, job reinstatement, increased pay, and wrongful termination. When building a case involving retaliation in the workplace, it is important to provide evidence and document how your employer’s behavior has shifted negatively since you filed your workers’ compensation claim.
Speak to an Experienced Lawyer
If you have sustained a construction site injury in Orange County and you are having difficulty seeking compensation, you may need to hire an experienced attorney to help you with your case. Most law firms offer free case evaluations for construction site accidents, so you can explore your legal options.