The construction industry is a deadly business. In fact, many construction workers risk life and limb on a daily basis as part of their job. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a construction site accident in California, you need to learn about your right to workers’ compensation benefits.
At the Kenton Koszdin Law Office, our knowledgeable legal team focuses solely on handling workers’ compensation and Social Security disability claims for people who are facing what is likely the most difficult time in their life. We have extensive experience fighting for the rights of construction workers and their families, and we stand ready to help you now. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Common Causes of Construction Site Injuries
In the construction industry, the infamous “Fatal Four” are well recognized causes of deadly injuries, accounting for 64 percent of those accidents. These four top causes include:
- Falling (from one level to another, such as in a scaffolding accident)
- Being struck by a falling object
- Being electrocuted
- Caught-in/between equipment or objects
In addition to these types of accidents, construction workers face risks when adequate safety equipment is not used or protocols are not in place. Repetitive motions and overexertion can also lead to serious, often debilitating injuries.
Common Injuries at Construction Sites
Over the years, our legal team has worked with people who have suffered a variety of catastrophic injuries on the job. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the following injuries as the most common:
- Burns: The risk of electrical burns and injuries from fires and explosions is high. Flammable and toxic substances are among myriad other burn risks. Third-degree burns can scorch skin, fat, muscle, and bone, putting life and limb at risk. The healing process is long, painful, expensive, and rarely complete. Multiple surgeries often are needed for reconstruction that typically includes skin grafts. Death is a constant risk, and disfigurement is likely.
- Head and brain injuries: Injuries ranging from lacerations to a crushed skull literally can have crippling effects. Treatment after stabilization can yield multiple surgical efforts to preserve life and minimize damage to the brain. Visible damage can pale in comparison with psychological and physiological damage, from depression to a complete vegetative state. Symptoms of a concussion can end in days or weeks, but a traumatic head and brain injury can yield a lifetime of recuperation and rehabilitation efforts to achieve even a partial recovery.
- Spinal cord injuries: These can be acute and sudden or stem from overuse resulting from repetitive lifting or awkward movements. Often a result of falls, these injuries can cause partial to full paralysis that typically is irreversible. Severity dictates complexity and length of treatment, which often includes surgeries and extensive rehabilitation efforts ─ physical, occupational, and vocational.
- Cuts, lacerations, and punctures: From a nail in the foot to a jagged wound affecting muscle and even bone, these are the stuff of simple bandages, stitches, or complex reconstructive surgery. They can disfigure or cripple, too.
- Fractures: These can range from simple breaks suffered in a slip-or-trip accident to multiple breaks in a long fall or even crushed bones from the type of accidents that cause traumatic amputations. The simplest of fractures can yield debilitating long-term effects such as arthritis. The worst can mean reconstructive surgery to insert metal plates, rods, and screws. Tissue damage can yield deadly blood clots, and there is the ever-present risk of infection.
- Traumatic amputation: The types of crushing injuries suffered in construction accidents can cost victims their lives and/or limbs. Lost toes, fingers, arms, or legs are a too frequent reality in an environment of heavy moving machinery and materials and collapses of trenches, structures, and equipment such as scaffolding. These are injuries that can instantly amputate a body part or do damage so severe that amputation is a must. A long, difficult recuperation likely will include being fitted with a prosthesis and professional help to relearn everyday tasks.
- Hearing loss: Persistent loud noises such as the slamming of jackhammers easily can damage hearing if no protective gear is used. Hearing loss also can be a facet of blows to the head. Permanent hearing loss of varying degrees is possible. Restoration is possible with hearing devices, and specialists can help a person adapt to hearing loss.
- Stress injuries: Overexertion is the top cause of workplace injuries such as sprains and strains caused by sudden, repeated, or awkward lifting. The repetitive lifting of heavy loads can produce soft-tissue injuries that can include nerve damage, and construction requires a lot of risky repetitive movement. Treatments can range from an ice pack and painkillers for a few days to surgeries for mitigating nerve damage. Back problems can yield partial to full debilitation that can be irreversible.
- Heatstroke: A combination of exertion and exposure to the elements can cause heatstroke, with nausea, dizziness, and fainting among the symptoms. Convulsions and coma are possible. The remedy is reducing body temperature with techniques such as cold-water immersion, evaporation cooling, ice and cooling blankets, and medication to control shivering. Full recovery is the norm, but convulsions, coma, organ damage, and even death are possible.
- Eye damage: Exposure to chemicals, gases, electricity, and extreme heat, along with head injuries affecting the eyes, can yield damage up to and including permanent and complete blindness.
Treatment for these injuries can range from a Band-Aid and aspirin to myriad surgeries. Rehabilitation to some semblance of normal life is the goal of treatment, but the process can be extremely difficult, painful and, too often, may produce limited or no results. The bottom line is that the physical and financial toll can be catastrophic.
What to Do if You Are Hurt on a Construction Site
The obvious first step is to get medical care. A secondary but potentially critical step is protecting your financial well-being. The damage from severe injuries can extend to your ability to make a living at a time when medical bills can reach epic proportion. To protect your right to compensation, you should, if able:
- Report your accident to your supervisor immediately
- Take notes and photos, including a record of potential witnesses
- Save all paperwork resulting from the accident, from receipts for related expenses to medical bills and a tally of lost wages
The California Department of Industrial Relations offers some good advice and information for occupational injury victims. In roughly the department’s own words:
- Your employer must give or mail you a workers’ comp benefits application form within a day of you reporting your injury.
- If your employer does not give you a claim form, get one from a workers’ comp information and assistance officer. Read everything that comes with the claim form.
- Fill out and sign the employee portion of the form. Describe injuries thoroughly. Include every part of your body affected by the accident. Give the form to your employer.
- If you mail the form to your employer, use first-class or certified mail and buy a return receipt.
The department also says that your employer must:
- Return a completed copy of the claim form to you within one workday of its receipt.
- Forward the claim form, along with the employer’s report of occupational injury or illness, to the claims administrator within one working day of its receipt.
- Within one day of receiving your claim, authorize up to $10,000 in appropriate medical treatment.
- Provide transitional work (light duty) whenever appropriate.
- If you are the victim of a crime that happened at work, the employer must give notice of workers’ compensation eligibility within one workday of the crime.
Injuries from a construction accident can destroy lives. One way to deal with the financial damage is to get a top-notch workers’ compensation law team on your side.
Our Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Is Here for You
The founder of the Kenton Koszdin Law Office uses his namesake firm to help disabled and injured people pursue the compensation they need and deserve to live as normally as possible. In fact, it was his experience with disability and serious injury that inspired him to enter the legal profession, which explains the firm’s focus on Social Security disability and workers’ compensation cases.
Contact us today for a free, no obligation case evaluation. If need be, we can schedule a free in-home consultation.