Generally, California workers’ compensation laws provide benefits for workers injured on the job. In fact, California law requires employers to have workers’ compensation insurance if they have even one employee.
Workers compensation benefits are generally an injured worker’s exclusive remedy for an on the job injury vis à vis the employer. However, these benefits are only the exclusive remedy for injuries suffered on the job if your employer is properly insured. If you get hurt or killed at work, and your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you or your family members may be able to file a civil action against the employer.
Recently, a worker’s family filed a California civil wrongful death lawsuit against the owner of a property development company after an employee was killed using a boom for tree trimming. According to reports, the company had rented the boom for use in trimming trees but failed to train any of the workers on how to use the lift. Further, the company also failed to provide them with a fall protection harness or eye protection. When the employee cut the tree, one of its limbs struck him and knocked him out of the basket, leading to his death. Following an investigation, Cal/OSHA determined that the company had violated 13 of California workplace safety regulations, including the failure to maintain workers’ compensation benefits.
The lawsuit asserted a variety of legal claims against the company, including negligence. (Where the employer is protected from suit because it does possess workers’ compensation insurance, an injury victim may still have the ability to bring a lawsuit against a negligent third party, i.e., someone other than the employer that was partially responsible for the injury.)
A representative of the Department of Industrial Relations noted, “Workers at construction sites are frequently exposed to serious hazards, and safety training is essential to prevent serious injuries and fatalities. This incident is a vivid reminder of what can go wrong when employers don’t have proper safety procedures in place.”
If you or a loved one has suffered an on the job injury, consulting with an experienced Oakland workers compensation lawyer is important to determine your next steps and help you and your family recover the compensation you deserve. For more information, please contact the experience Oakland personal injury attorneys at Butler Viadro, LLP for an immediate, confidential consultation.