Safety regulations and standards are ignored or disregarded on California job sites every day. When a workers’ safety is at risk, it can result in debilitating and fatal injuries. Construction workers’ accidents can result in numerous expensive medical bills and potential loss of income while healing occurs. Employers are mandated to provide workers’ compensation insurance for employees that offers financial relief in the event of an accident. Lawyers who focus their practices on employment law may determine that some injured workers have grounds to pursue compensation outside of workers’ compensation in civil court.
In 2011, a 20-year-old man was severely injured while working for a subcontrator on a Caltrans job site. According to the lawsuit, the accident occurred in the dark early hours of the morning. The victim was on the side of the road working on wiring when he was hit by a car that veered off the road. The young man is now paralyzed, not able to speak and completely dependent on his parents for care.
While the jury did find the driver negligent for driving off the road and injuring the victim, the panel also found that Caltrans could have prevented the man’s injuries with a few simple safety precautions. The lawsuit claimed that a lane closure, a large vehicle parked in front of the workers and correct placement of lights could have easily prevented the devastating tragedy. Apparently, a large vehicle had been in place to create a separation from the workers and the vehicles on the road, but prior to the accident an order was made to move it. The jury awarded the victim and his parents $56 million to continue his care throughout his lifetime. Not all construction workers’ accidents warrant a lawsuit in civil court, but California lawyers with experience in employment law can guide injured workers and advise them and/or their families on their options. While the law generally bars workers who suffer an on-the-job accident from suing their employers or co-workers for personal injuries, that does not apply in cases of egregious fault or when a claim may be made against a third party. Source: sacbee.com, “Jury awards $56 million to worker paralyzed in Caltrans incident”, Adam Ashton, Feb. 2, 2017