Every month, a reader asks one of our sponsor legal experts about a work-related issue. These building trades law professionals respond in an Organized Labor exclusive. This month’s expert is Robert Arns of the Arns Law Firm.

Visit The Arns Law Firm website.

I was seriously injured on a construction site when a scaffold that was not set up by my employer collapsed. Workers’ Compensation benefits are not enough to live on. What can I do?

Situations when you can sue your employer are rare, so injured workers are often stuck with the pathetically low benefits of workers’ comp insurance. However, you have a 3rd party civil case against the scaffold company (the 3rd party). The term “3rd party” refers to someone other than you (the 1st party) or your employer (the 2nd party). If your injury was caused—even only in part—by the negligence of someone other than you or your employer, you may have a civil case against this third party. The third party may be a general contractor, a subcontractor or a person employed by someone other than your employer. For example, you may have a potential third party case if the general contractor at your jobsite was simply “aware” or “should have been aware” of an existing safety violation that resulted in your injury.

Unlike workers’ comp benefits, a 3rd party lawsuit entitles you to recover all lost wages (past and future), medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, among other benefits. A workers’ comp case may be worth $35,000 when a 3rd party case for the same injuries could be worth millions of dollars- especially when you can no longer continue with your trade. The Arns Law Firm can assess your case to determine if you have a potential third party civil case.

-Robert S. Arns, Founder of The Arns Law Firm, San Francisco, CA

For more information on work-site accidents and
your legal options, visit the ARNS Website.

“Interaction via “Ask the Expert” does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Any advice given is neither legal advice nor does it serve as a replacement for hiring an attorney. In addition, any case results mentioned or discussed are not guarantees of similar results.”

Robert S. Arns

This Month's Expert; Robert S. Arns

ROBERT S. ARNS is the founder of The Arns Law Firm, a twelve lawyer plaintiffs’ law firm, with offices in San Francisco and Reno. Bob introduces himself as a “family lawyer”—not because he does dissolution cases, but because he represents families who have experienced catastrophic events, including serious or fatal injuries caused by defective products, construction site incidents, and other scenarios. He also specializes in representing plaintiffs in class actions. He has loved every day of practicing law and believes that to be able to help these families is the most gratifying and rewarding job imaginable.

Bob was SFTLA Trial Lawyer of the Year and he has been a finalist for CAOC Trial Lawyer of the Year many times.  He is a professor of law at the University of San Francisco where he teaches trial practice, and was USF Law School alumni of the year in 2009 and professor of the year in 2010. He is a regular lecturer on consumer issues.  He is recognized as one of the “Top 100” Super Lawyers in Northern California and one of the Best Lawyers of America.  He is the author of the best selling Rutter Group Practice Guides The Evidence Wheel and The Trial Wheel, which are used by trial lawyers and judges throughout the United States. He has argued numerous cases in front of appellate courts, including the California Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and has resolved over a billion dollars worth of cases via verdict and settlement. 

Bob’s SF office building, which he owns, was constructed with a built-in mock trial center with the facilities to mock-try a case to 36 mock jurors and break into three video-taped 12 juror deliberation panels.

Bob graduated from UCSB in 1971 with Highest Honors and graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 1975 with honors and was Editor of the Law Review. He owns Tournesol winery in Napa Valley and makes a Bordeaux blend, Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend and a Rose

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