Who Could Be Liable For A Construction Site Injury?
Multiple parties could be liable when a construction worker is injured. It often takes a lawyer to figure out who.
Construction work can be hazardous, and when an accident occurs, the resulting injuries can be serious, even fatal. Despite the safety regulations that construction employers are required to follow by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a construction site remains inherently dangerous.
The use of heavy and powerful equipment and tools, constantly changing site conditions, atmospheric contaminants, and numerous other hazards make construction one of the most injury-prone occupations in the nation, with non-fatal injury rates that are 71% higher than any other industry. According to OSHA, one in every five worker deaths each year involves a construction worker.
Some of the most common construction hazards that lead to injury include:
- Slip and fall injuries
- Being hit by a moving or falling object, equipment, or machinery
- Trench and scaffolding failure
- Electrical shocks and explosions
- Defective equipment, or the improper use of equipment.
- Exposure to dangerous substances (i.e. silica, beryllium, asbestos)
- Loud noises (hearing loss)
- Lifting and repetitive stress
The challenges surrounding many construction accident cases stem from the complexity of most construction projects. Even smaller projects could have multiple subcontractors involved.
Who Do You Work For?
Was your employer or another party responsible for your accident and injuries?
If it was your employer, you may be unable to sue for damages. Why? Because your employer helps provide you with workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance, often just referred to as Workers’ Comp, is coverage that you are entitled to receive, and will pay your medical costs and lost wages during your recovery.
The workers’ compensation system was developed as a no-fault system, which means employees give up their right to sue employers in exchange for receiving workers’ compensation benefits — regardless of who was at fault — if they are injured. However, there are some important exceptions.
- Intentional Acts – Section 131(1). If your employer deliberately does something with the intention of injuring you (i.e. assault, confinement against your will, etc.)
- Uninsured Employer – Section 641 (2). If the employer is covered by the act but fails to provide security for workers’ compensation, an employee who is injured can file a civil lawsuit to recover damages.
- Retaliation – Section 301(11). The employer cannot discriminate against an employee for filing for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Contracts and Other Statutes. These lawsuits don’t usually involve a “personal injury or occupational disease” but concern the violation of civil rights statutes, labor laws, and other acts that are injurious in other ways. A worker may also have grounds for a lawsuit if a contract has been breached.
Construction accident lawsuits can be particularly challenging because of the great number of potentially liable parties. Besides the owner (of the site) and the general contractor, a large construction project can involve numerous subcontractors and suppliers. Who can be held responsible? Who can be held liable?
- The owner. If the job site owner is involved in controlling worksite conditions in any way, they could be held liable.
- General contractors, prime contractors, and subcontractors. Contractors have a responsibility to make sure that tasks under their supervision meet specified safety standards are performed safely. Other than contractors, there may be construction management companies involved, who are hired to oversee major construction projects.
- Manufacturers and suppliers of equipment and tools. When a manufacturing or design defect leads to injury, the company may be liable.
- Architects or engineers. These design and logistics professionals can be held liable if they performed their stated duties in a negligent manner.
Do You Need A Lawyer?
Many construction site accidents and injuries are relatively minor, and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance pays, without question, your medical expenses, lost wages, and costs associated with your recovery and rehabilitation. If your injuries are minor, the only reason to contact a construction accident attorney is to ensure you are receiving all the medical benefits to which you are entitled, as well as the appropriate compensation for lost wages.
If you’ve experienced more serious injuries that keep you from working for a long time, you may need to file a claim to receive the compensation you need and deserve.
If you need legal advice and guidance in understanding your workers’ compensation claim — and in potentially filing a third-party lawsuit to recover damages — the professionals at Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. can meet with you at your convenience to review your situation. After this free consultation, if we decide to work together, you don’t need to worry about attorney fees. We work on your case under a contingency fee agreement, which means we don’t receive payment until we successfully secure an adequate settlement for you.
Contact us toll-free at (866) 642-4529 or use our convenient online contact form to schedule your no-obligation appointment.