Who is Liable in a Construction Accident?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Kathleen M. Reilly with Brady Brady & Reilly, LLC.
Construction sites generally have many different parties working on and around them at once. This can make it difficult to identify where liability falls when an accident occurs. There are several parties which are commonly held liable for construction worker injuries which should first be investigated.
Additionally, there are a variety of injuries which are more common than not on a construction site. Depending on the state and how the injury occurred, an injured worker may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits from their employer to cover damages such as medical bills and lost wages.
There are a variety of parties that may be liable in a construction accident:
- The employer. Although the circumstances under which you are eligible to file a personal injury claim against your employer in addition to receiving workers’ compensation benefits are rare, they do occur. For this to be a viable option you must either be able to prove that your employer intentionally and directly hurt you, that gross negligence in regard to safety was involved in the incident, or that your employer does not offer or only offers insufficient workers’ compensation.
- A third party. Any third or outside party not directly employed by or officially managing the day to day of an operation could be liable if their actions or negligence caused or contributed to an injury. For example, if a forklift rented out by a forklift rental company caused an injury due to being improperly maintained, the forklift rental company could be liable for damages. Other third parties which may be liable for a construction site accident include the following:
- A driver. Vehicle collisions are a common problem on construction sites. When a collision occurs due to another driver’s negligent operation of their vehicle, they may be liable for any resulting damages. Negligent operation of a vehicle may include incapacitation as the result of DUI or DWAI, violation of traffic controls, falling asleep at the wheel, and/or having their attention diverted by distractions.
- The manufacturer of a defective product/dangerous substances. If an employee is injured by a defective product or dangerous substance at work due to a manufacturing error or lack of adequate product warnings, that manufacturer may be liable for employee damages in addition to workers’ compensation.
- The general contractor. If you are injured while working on a construction site for a subcontractor, you may have a personal injury claim against the general contractor.
- The property owner. If you are injured on the job while on another person’s property, and that injury occurs due to unsafe conditions the property owner should have or could have prevented, you may have a personal injury claim against the property owner in addition to your workers’ compensation claim.
Although uncommon, it may be possible to file a personal injury or third party claim in addition to receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
If negligence was involved in the accident, it may be possible for an injured worker to file a personal injury claim against their employer in addition to receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Additionally, if the injury was caused by a third party other than the employer, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim against that third party in addition to receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
It’s important to note that workers’ compensation attorneys recommend filing for workers’ compensation before pursuing other claims, as this ensures the injured party can begin receiving immediate financial help with their medical bills and lost wages. To learn more or for help filing, reach out to a workers’ compensation attorney.