Within a span of just four months, two workers have tragically died in construction accidents at the worksite of the new $1.2 billion stadium being built in Santa Clara for the San Francisco 49ers - with the most recent fatality taking place just last month.
The first of these deaths occurred in June when an elevator mechanic was killed by a counterweight while working in an elevator shaft. The second accident claimed the life of a delivery truck driver when he was crushed by a stack of steel rebar that was being unloaded from his truck.
While these incidents certainly illustrate the inherent dangerous nature of working in the construction industry, they also serve as an important reminder of just how quickly these deadly accidents can occur. Thus, it is important for construction workers and their families to be aware of the remedies that exist in California for workers who are injured - or killed - while working on construction sites.
California workers' comp benefits
In most instances of workplace injuries, construction workers will be entitled to workers' compensation benefits during the time in which they are unable to work. These benefits often cover several expenses in California, including lost income and medical bills.
However, while workers' compensation benefits are typically considered the exclusive remedy available under California law when a worker is injured on the job by the acts of his or her employer or coworkers, there are several important exceptions to this rule. For instance, the worker - or his family if the worker dies as a result of the accident - can bring a lawsuit for damages against his or her co-worker if:
- The co-worker caused the worker's injury or death by a willful and unprovoked act of physical aggression.
- The co-worker was intoxicated, which was the proximate cause of the worker's injury or death.
Third party claims in California
Importantly, injured construction workers can also seek remedies beyond workers' compensation when their injuries are caused by third parties. For instance, if a construction worker is injured by a delivery driver who is not a co-worker, he or she can seek damages against this third party driver.
Ultimately, the remedies available for injured construction workers heavily relies upon facts of the accident, which is why it is always best to seek the counsel of an experienced construction accident attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can review the circumstances of your workplace injury and help determine what possible avenues of recourse you may have available to you.