Construction is a dangerous and demanding field. Construction workers place themselves in perilous positions in which their safety and lives are at risk if safety standards are not followed. Because of the nature of construction work, it is imperative that employers do everything possible to protect their employees from unnecessary risks. A recent post in the Sacramento Bee demonstrates the importance of conforming to proper safety standards and procedures.
Two constructor workers died at a Winters bridge construction site after a crane-hoisted basket carrying them dropped 80 feet onto timbers covering a three-stories deep hole. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently reported that the crane involved in the accident did not have proper certification and the company should not have been using it. Companies must typically recertify heavy equipment and the crane’s certification had expired days before the accident. Although the authorities have not yet determined what is responsible for the construction accident, the risks of not following safety procedure can lead to unfortunate accidents. Sadly and ironically, the construction site accident occurred days before the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s annual National Safety Stand-Down. The event seeks to raise awareness and help to prevent falls in construction. Falls are a leading cause of construction deaths not only nationally, but also in California. Between 2009 and 2012, there were 215 deaths within the construction industry in California.
What type of litigation is possible?
The reason why it is so important to determine what caused the deaths of the construction workers is because this would impact the type of lawsuits that a spouse or relative could bring forth on behalf of the construction workers. The first type of benefit that would accrue to the deceased construction workers is workers’ compensation, since they suffered injuries in the context of their employment. If the party bringing suit could also produce evidence suggesting that negligence by another party also played a role in the deaths, then there would be a claim for wrongful death as well.
What benefits accrue to the workers?
As the construction workers died while working, their dependents would assuredly receive benefits for their deaths from workers’ compensation. Dependents are usually spouses or children. The state of California’s Department of Industrial Relations provides information about such benefits. For example, California will provide reasonable burial expenses that cannot surpass $10,000, provided that the death took place after January 1, 2013. Before that date, the maximum amount allowed for burial expenses is $5,000. The amount that dependents receive will typically depend upon the number of dependents. When children are dependents, they receive benefits until they reach the age of majority, and if the children are disabled minors, they will receive benefits for their entire lives. There is a statute of limitations for filing death benefits, and an attorney can provide you with more specific information about your particular deadline.
If you or a loved one is involved in a construction accident, your first step should be to contact the Appel Law Firm LLP. We can help you understand your options and aid you in securing the compensation that you deserve.