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Can a construction accident lawyer help me if I am not an employee?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Every day millions of people around California drive or walk by construction sites. If you were injured while near or on a construction site, you may be wondering if you can sue the construction company, even though you are not an employee of their company. Yes, a construction accident lawyer can assist you to file a lawsuit if you were injured by a construction site, even if you were not an employee of one of the companies that is working at the site where you were injured. Here’s how a personal injury attorney can help:

  1. Identifying Liability: A lawyer can help determine who is liable for your injuries. This could be the construction company, contractors, equipment manufacturers, or property owners.
  2. Navigating Legal Claims: They can guide you through the process of filing a legal claim, which might differ from workers’ compensation claims that employees would file.
  3. Personal Injury Lawsuits: If your injury is due to negligence, a lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. This involves proving that the responsible party had a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused your injuries.
  4. Dealing with Insurance Companies: Lawyers can negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  5. Understanding Laws and Regulations: Construction sites are governed by various laws and regulations. A lawyer with experience in construction accidents will be familiar with these and can use this knowledge to strengthen your case.
  6. Gathering Evidence: They can help collect evidence to support your claim, such as site inspection reports, witness statements, and medical records.
  7. Offering Legal Advice: A lawyer can provide legal advice on the best course of action, whether it’s settling out of court or going to trial.

Remember, each case is unique, so it’s important to consult with a lawyer to understand your specific situation and legal options.

How common is it for passersby to be injured by a construction site?

Finding specific statistics on the frequency of non-employee injuries at construction sites is challenging, as most available data focuses on injuries to construction workers rather than passersby. The statistics on construction site injuries primarily include data on workers, as seen with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, which reported that 79,660 people were injured at construction sites in 2019, with a significant portion of these injuries being sprains, strains, tears, fractures, and cuts. However, this data does not specifically address non-employee injuries, such as those sustained by passersby.

To obtain detailed and specific statistics on passersby injuries at construction sites, a more in-depth search through specialized safety reports or legal databases might be required, as this information is not typically highlighted in general construction safety statistics.

What happens if I was injured at a construction site where I was trespassing in California?

If you were injured at a construction site where you were trespassing in California, the situation becomes legally complex, and the outcome depends on various factors:

  1. Premises Liability Laws: Under California premises liability laws, property owners owe a duty of care to people on their property. However, the level of care owed to trespassers is significantly less than that owed to invitees or licensees (people who are either invited or allowed to be on the property).
  2. Attractive Nuisance Doctrine: This doctrine applies mainly to children. If the construction site had features that are attractive and potentially dangerous to children (like heavy machinery), the property owner might be held liable for a child trespasser’s injuries even if the child was there without permission.
  3. Property Owner’s Duty to Trespassers: Generally, property owners are not expected to keep their property safe for trespassers. However, they cannot willfully or wantonly cause harm to trespassers. For instance, setting traps for trespassers is not permissible.
  4. Assumption of Risk: If you were trespassing, you might be seen as having assumed the risk of injury, which can significantly affect your ability to claim damages.
  5. Comparative Negligence: California follows a comparative negligence rule. If you are found partially responsible for your injuries (e.g., by trespassing), any award you receive could be reduced by your percentage of fault.
  6. Exceptions: There may be exceptions based on specific circumstances, such as if the property owner was aware of frequent trespassing and did not take reasonable steps to secure hazardous areas.

Given these complexities, it’s crucial to consult with a personal injury lawyer who can evaluate the specifics of your case. They can advise you on the likelihood of a successful claim and help navigate the legal challenges associated with injuries sustained while trespassing.

What are the most common types of injuries sustained at a construction site?

The most common types of injuries sustained at construction sites include:

  1. Falls: This is one of the leading causes of construction injuries. Falls can occur from scaffolding, ladders, roofs, or into holes in the ground or floors.
  2. Struck-By Injuries: Workers can be hit by falling objects, debris, or construction equipment, leading to serious injuries.
  3. Electrocutions: Exposure to live electrical wires or equipment can result in electrocution, which is a significant risk on construction sites.
  4. Caught-In/Between: Workers can be caught in or compressed by equipment or objects, or struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structures, equipment, or materials.
  5. Repetitive Motion Injuries: These occur due to repetitive tasks, overuse of certain body parts, or uncomfortable positions, leading to conditions like tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
  6. Machinery Accidents: Injuries can be caused by malfunctioning or improperly used machinery, such as cranes, bulldozers, or power tools.
  7. Exposure to Hazardous Materials: Contact with hazardous substances like asbestos, lead, or chemical solvents can cause serious health issues.
  8. Heatstroke and Dehydration: Working in excessive heat without proper hydration or breaks can lead to heatstroke, a severe heat-related illness.
  9. Noise-Induced Hearing Loss: Constant exposure to loud noise without proper ear protection can result in temporary or permanent hearing loss.
  10. Cuts and Lacerations: These can result from working with sharp tools, materials, or machinery.

Each of these injury types can vary in severity and may require different levels of medical attention and recovery time. Safety regulations and protective measures are critical in construction environments to minimize these risks.

What to do if you were injured at a construction site?

If you were injured at a construction site, taking the right steps is crucial for your health and any potential legal action. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Prioritize your health. Even if the injury seems minor, it’s important to get a medical evaluation. Some injuries might not show immediate symptoms.
  2. Report the Injury: Inform the construction site manager or supervisor about the incident as soon as possible. Make sure there’s a written accident report, and get a copy for your records.
  3. Document Everything: Take photos of the injury and the area where it occurred. Note any hazards or lack of safety measures. Gather names and contact information of witnesses.
  4. Keep Medical Records: Maintain a detailed record of all medical treatments, diagnoses, prescriptions, and expenses related to your injury. 
  5. Do Not Admit Fault: Be cautious about what you say following the accident. Avoid making statements that could be interpreted as admitting fault or liability.
  6. Avoid Signing Documents or Settling Quickly: Don’t sign any documents from insurance companies or the construction company without consulting a lawyer. These could be settlement offers or waivers of liability.
  7. Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer: Contact a lawyer who specializes in construction accident cases. They can provide legal advice, help determine if you have a claim, and represent you in negotiations or court.
  8. Follow Medical Advice: Adhere to the treatment plan prescribed by your healthcare provider. Skipping appointments or not following through with treatments can negatively impact your claim.
  9. Track Lost Wages: If your injury causes you to miss work, document any lost wages or impact on your earning capacity.
  10. Do Not Discuss the Incident on Social Media: Refrain from discussing your accident or injury on social media platforms, as these statements can be used against you in your claim.

Remember, each situation is unique, so these steps might vary based on the specific circumstances of your injury. Legal guidance is essential to navigate the complexities of construction accident claims.

Contact a California Construction Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured by a construction site or construction worker in California, regardless of whether you were an employee or not, you may be legally entitled to receive compensation from the guilty party (or parties) to pay for your medical bills and loss of income. Call J&Y Law Firm today at (877) 310-2104 to receive a free consultation about your unique circumstance so we can begin the process of fighting for your rights.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.