Q: I was seriously injured in a Construction Site accident and have applied for Worker’s Compensation. Is there anything else I should do to protect myself?
A: WOW! Act Fast, you don’t have any time to waste. Construction Accidents cover a very broad range of categories and most of my Response to you is ‘what were you doing at the time of the accident?’ Construction sites in general are always extremely dangerous. In 1960, I began as a laborer, and moved up to Journeyman Carpenter, Foreman for the largest most prestigious General Contractor in San Diego and later Assistant Superintendent and finally a General Contractor all within a ten year period. There must be over a hundred different building trades. I carried lumber, moved on to rough framing, moved to Finish Carpentry, and even operated heavy construction equipment. Needless to say that experience doesn’t come from the classroom and has been invaluable to me over the last 30 years particularly as a Lawyer representing Construction Accident victims. The Construction Industry is considered the third most dangerous category for all workers in America, with Mining and Agriculture coming in first and second. It accounts for 7% of all workers in the United States but more than 20% of all work related deaths.
The fact that a construction accident case is covered by California Worker’s Compensation Law is really putting it too simply. Worker’s Compensation is essentially an insurance policy paid for by your employer. It covers any accident or injury that may occur to one of the employees disregarding any negligence issues. If you can live on Temporary Disability Benefits of $1,000.00 dollars a month and pay all your bills, including rent, feeding your family and you’re happy with that then – good luck, don’t read any further. However if you’re seriously injured as the result of someone else’s actions then we need to get out of bed up off the couch and call an Attorney that handles Construction Litigation. Be ‘cautious’ since the chances of you finding a qualified law firm to represent you in your Injury case is probably about 1% so be serious about selecting that Attorney and meeting with them. Do not select a Worker’s Compensation Attorney to handle your Civil Court case. Generally speaking Worker’s Comp Attorneys are not qualified to handle Jury Trials in Civil Court. They practice in an area of Administrative Insurance Law outlined by rules found in the California Labor Code. For example, a Worker’s Comp case with 90% disability may result in a Worker’s Comp settlement of $100,000.00 dollars. On the other hand a qualified ‘Trial’ Lawyer Representing you against the negligent party may obtain a Jury Award for $20 million dollars in the same accident. All it means is that you will have two Attorneys Specialists instead of only one. Please make sure your Attorney has a history of going to Trial in Civil Court.
Construction accidents more than any other type of accident require your “Immediate” Attention. Did I say Immediate, I mean it. Everything today you should have done yesterday. That includes site inspection, photographs, video, witness’s names, phone numbers, lists of subcontractors and the list goes on and on. Why is it so necessary to do all of this at a rapid pace? Because a Construction Site has only a short lifespan. How long does it take to build a house? Months, but how long does it take to pour the foundation or the roof to be installed? When will the heavy equipment leave the scene? That equipment at the site on Monday morning may never ever return on Tuesday. So Harry the plumber who apologized for causing your hand may be working in New Jersey next week. Subcontractors will disappear and evidence will no longer exist. I had a client come in yesterday with a serious injury. My staff was on the site location within an hour after that client left the building. We collected fresh evidence, took video identifying all activity at the site and the particulars of the accident. Needless to say I’ve turned down cases over the years wherein the injured victim wants to retain us a month or two after the accident. Either they or their Former Attorney ‘sat on their hands.’ The expeditious handling of the matter would have entitled that worker to hundreds and sometimes millions of dollars. To name just a few of the areas we handle where injuries have occurred are grading, foundation, framing, scaffolding, ladders, electric power equip machinery and the list goes on and on. If your Attorney isn’t at the scene within 12 (twelve) hours, “Eliminate ” this Firm. “YOU CAN ONLY BE A WINNER BY CHOOSING A WINNER.”