If you work on large construction sites, you know how complex the operation is. Everyone has to do their job while relying on everyone around them to do theirs. Schedules become intertwined and everything has to move like clockwork.
In the big rush to keep it all moving, safety remains the top job for everyone. Unfortunately, it can fall by the wayside and workers are injured because someone else didn't do what they were supposed to. In cases like this, the legal process is just as complex as the job site if not more so.
Take an example
Twelve workers were injured on a site in Pill Hill last May when the structure they were constructing collapsed. Some fell more than ten feet into wet concrete, complicating recovery efforts. One required surgery for his injuries.
The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) recently completed their evaluation of the incident and cited several contractors on the site for not maintaining safety standards. This included the general contractor, Johnstone Moyer, along with two subcontractors.
The workers who were injured had to file worker's compensation claims immediately with Division of Worker's Compensation. This is completely independent of the investigation, which also started immediately. These claims are required to be evaluated within 60 days, and the workers should have been eligible.
That does not mean that their losses were completely compensated, however. A worker's comp claim is with the state and comes against your employer, regardless of any fault. On a construction site, the general contractor is usually at least partially responsible for safety, regardless of what subcontractors are working there. This was reflected in the citations issued after investigation.
This means that a separate personal injury suit would be necessary for the same incident for any worker whose damages are not fully satisfied under worker's comp. That would include anyone who cannot work again or has to take a lower paying job because of their injuries.
Who is responsible?
If you suffer a catastrophic loss on the job, in immediate health or in ability to work in the future, compensation by those responsible is justified. Worker's comp is not going to make up the entire difference in loss of salary for the rest of your life.
Such cases are complicated, especially when responsibility for safety on the job falls to a third party like a general contractor and the investigation takes months to complete. It is critical when you are injured on a large construction site to have a conversation with an attorney, particularly one well versed in both the immediate worker's compensation filing and the longer term personal injury case that will be necessary.
When it's not your fault that you were injured you are entitled to compensation. Complex job sites often create complex cases to determine just who is responsible.