Three workers were recently injured at a construction site near Petco Park in San Diego. The construction workers were hanging drywall on the second story of a building when the scaffolding they were using collapsed. The three men suffered injuries so severe that they were carted out on stretchers and, according to witnesses, “very still.” In order to recover from these injuries, the men will likely have to undergo extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation. This will undoubtedly force them to miss time away from work, placing a strain on their financial capabilities. Since they were injured on the job they may be entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits.
Construction Accidents Are Common
Construction is a very popular and demanding industry. Each day, approximately 6.5 million Americans go to work at one of the 250,000 construction sites across the country. Given the dangerous nature of construction and the fact that the construction industry employs so many people, it is not surprising that construction-related accidents happen quite frequently. Statistics show that in 2015, nearly 7 percent of all construction accidents were fatal. Thousands of other construction accidents, like the one in San Diego, result in serious and life-changing injuries.
Falls are the Leading Cause of Construction Site Injuries
Many construction sites require workers to do their craft off of the ground. Whether they are working in a piece of heavy machinery, balancing at the top of a ladder, or standing on metal scaffolding structures, construction workers must put any fear of heights they may have aside. Since many construction workers operate above the ground, falls are responsible for the greatest number of construction-related deaths.
Scaffolding is often at the center of construction accidents involving falls. The Occupational and Safety Hazard Administration reports that approximately 2.3 million construction workers use scaffolding. It estimates that if employers took steps to secure these scaffolds and make them safe, they could prevent about 50 deaths and 4,500 scaffold-related injuries every year.
Causes of falls on construction sites include:
- Unstable working platforms
- Human error
- Failing to provide or use restraints
- Not have fall arrest systems in place, and
- Lack of safety nets and guardrails.
Workers Compensation Benefits
Construction workers who are injured on the job may be entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits are paid out of a workers’ compensation insurance policy that all California employers must carry. When an injured worker requests and collects workers’ compensation benefits they must waive their right to seek damages from their employer privately. In other words, when an injured worker gets workers’ comp they give up the right to sue their employer. The workers’ compensation benefits are intended to make sure that injured workers get the financial assistance they need promptly and without a lengthy legal battle.
Workers’ compensation benefits can be paid to compensate for:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Prescription medication
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Temporary disability, and/or
- Permanent disability.
Timeline for Workers’ Compensation Claims
Notify Employer: Workers who are injured on the job must act quickly if they want to collect workers’ compensation benefits. If an employer is not notified of a workplace injury within 30 days of the incident the employee will not be able to recover benefits. The sooner the worker notifies the employer, the better their chances of recovering the money they need.
Medical Evaluation: Workers must undergo a medical evaluation to determine the extent and severity of their workplace injury. Employers may have in-network physicians that they would prefer their employees see. If an on-the-job injury is not life-threatening it may be wise to report your injury before seeking medical treatment.
Filing a Claim: Once a worker has notified his or her employer of their injury they must submit a formal request to collect workers’ compensation benefits by submitting DWC Form 1. Once the employer receives this claim request they will submit it to the workers’ compensation insurance company. Employees must also complete and file an Application for Adjudication of Claim and Declaration Pursuant to Labor Code 4906(g) in order to complete the claims process.
Insurance Company Response: The insurance company must review and respond to your request for benefits within 14 days. The company has three options:
- Approve the claim and pay temporary benefits,
- Deny the claim in full, or
- Suspend a decision until an investigation has been conducted.
If the insurance company intends to investigate your claim they cannot leave the injured worker with assistance. In these situations, the company must complete the investigation within 90 days and must authorize payments of up to $10,000 for medical care.
Experienced San Diego Construction Accident Attorneys
If you have been injured in a San Diego construction accident call Injury Trial Lawyers, APC for help. Our attorneys know that construction accident injuries can change your life forever. We will fight to make sure that you are fairly compensated for these serious injuries.