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When is an owner liable for its employee’s injury?

Nobody wants to see an employee get injured on the job. Injuries, even ones that initially seem minor, can lead to long-term physical consequences that can cause a person to never be able to work again. At the very least, an injury to a worker means he or she is unable to work, which means time away from job during which the employee isn’t earning a paycheck. For an employer, it means having to find a replacement or accepting that the injury could lead to a costly delay on a construction project where time is money.

Most employers want to do everything they can to help their employees and their families during the hard times caused by a work-related injury or illness, but in some cases they may be limited in the amount of concern or support they can render during these times. For one thing, they may not have the financial means to support injured employees or their families, especially when they are having to scramble to keep projects moving while being short one worker. They also never know how the worker will respond. The injured worker may go find a personal injury attorney and threaten to sue, and any measure of goodwill taken by an employer could be thrown back in its face as evidence of an alleged guilty conscience.

For better or worse, California has a complex worker’s compensation system in place to help employers deal with the problems caused by injured workers, as well as help employees get the help and medical treatment they need after suffering an on-the job injury. Employers duties to their employee are often covered by worker’s compensation insurance, which will cover almost everything related to the injury, including medical treatment, disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits and, in fatal cases, death benefits for the family.

Employers owe it to their employees to follow safety guidelines and make the worksite safe, and when they fail to do so, they may be opening themselves up to liability in a civil lawsuit. But for most on-the-job accidents, worker’s compensation insurance should cover it. That is not to say that worker’s comp isn’t complicated, because it certainly can be. But with the help of an experienced California construction law attorney, employers may be able to get the help they need to obtain and utilize the worker’s comp system to their advantage.

Source: CDC “Construction Safety and Health” accessed Aug. 10, 2015