Construction sites are some of the most dangerous places people can work. There are a variety of potential hazards, and even with proper safety measures, construction accidents still occur. When construction workers are injured on the job, it is important that they know about the options available to them to receive compensation for their injuries.
In New York, a construction worker’s direct employer’s liability is limited to workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation provides weekly cash benefits and medical care for injured employees. The injured worker cannot seek further compensation from his or her employer through the court system, even if the employer was negligent.
Workers’ compensation has an advantage because workers qualify regardless of whether the injury was the employer’s fault. However, workers may be able to obtain more compensation through a civil claim.
Types Of Third-Party Claims
Even though injured workers cannot seek further compensation through their employer, they can seek compensation through a third-party claim. Third-party suits seek to hold others responsible when their negligence contributed to a work accident and resulting injury. Third-party claims often provide injured workers with more compensation than benefits from workers’ compensation. Third-party claims may include:
- Contractors and subcontractors: Contractors and subcontractors are an integral part of most construction sites. When their carelessness, negligence or errors cause injuries, they can be subject to a third-party claim.
- Product liability claims: If a worker is injured by a defective machine or part, he or she may hold the manufacturer responsible.
- Property owners: Property owners have a duty to provide a safe place for construction employees to work. The extent of their obligation will depend on individual circumstances, but property owners can be held liable if workers are injured because of property owners’ failures.
- Others: Agents of other companies and others whose negligence contributes to a construction site accident or injury may be subject to third-party claims.
Third-party claims can result from any worker injury. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, common worker injuries include falls, backovers, crane accidents, injuries from falling objects, burns, explosions and injuries from defective or improperly maintained equipment.
Third-party construction accident claims are complex in part because they often include more than one defendant. In one New York case that went to trial in 2012, an injured worker sued both the property owner and a contracting company that had been hired to renovate a building where he was injured.
The worker was an employee of another company. He and a co-worker were performing asbestos abatement from an elevated basket attached to a man lift. The man lift rolled down a hill, the basket overturned and the worker was injured when he fell about 20 feet to the ground.
The third-party claim alleged that the defendants did not make sure that construction areas were safe for workers and they did not provide proper safety equipment. A jury agreed; the plaintiff was awarded $10 million for past and future pain and suffering, lost wages and other damages.
An Experienced Attorney Can Advise You
Because third-party construction claims are complex, injured construction workers and their families should consult with a lawyer who is experienced with third-party claims. A knowledgeable lawyer can provide advice about whether you have a potential third-party claim, help you enforce your rights and ensure that you obtain maximum compensation for your injuries.