Construction Accident Law: Recovery Options for Injured Workers
There are thousands of construction accidents that cause serious injuries or kill workers every year. Construction companies must inspect each site with safety engineers and provide safety programs, but unfortunately accidents still occur due to the inadequacy of these provisions.
When a construction site accident occurs, the owners, architects,
insurance companies and manufacturers of equipment can be held
responsible for inadequate safety provisions. The general contractor
and all subcontractors are required to provide a reasonably safe
site, to warn of hazards inherent in the site and work, to hire
careful employees, to coordinate job safety and to supervise
compliance with safety specifications.
Lawyers will pursue any party who may be responsbile for the accident. Therefore they will not confine their investigation to just the employer. Lawyers and investigators will look for defective products or unsafe conditions created by non-employer subcontractors or other (third parties) who may have substantial insurance coverage, often millions of dollars.
Manufacturers of construction equipment are responsible designing and maintaining safe products. Defective or dangerous products may include the following: scaffolding, cranes, power tools, derricks, hoists, conveyors, woodworking tools, ladders, winches, trucks, graters, scrapers, tractors, bulldozers, forklifts, back hoes, heavy equipment, boilers, pressure vessels, gas detectors and other types of construction equipment.
It is often possible to find liable third parties in the event
of an accident or injury. Since most sites involve many subcontractors, it is very common to locate
several potential third party defendants. The lawyer may also
consider claims against the general contractor, who may be responsible
for supervision and my be contractually responsible for the injury.
In more complex cases, the legal principles of Agency and analysis
of Corporate law may lead to sophisticated determinations as
to who is technically an "employee" and who the "third
parties" are in a given situation.
Workers' Compensation law is designed to help injured workers as well as employers in dealing with the problems of health insurance. The Workers' Compensation Act provides benefits to workers who are injured on the job or suffer an occupational disease arising out of and in the course of employment. The benefits under Workers' Comp include weekly payments based on a percentage of the employee's average weekly wage for temporary total disability, partial disability, permanent and total disability and permanent loss of function and disfigurement. Workers' Comp also covers medical expenses for treatment that is reasonable, necessary and related to the industrial injury and vocational rehabilitation services.
Unfortunately Workers' Compensation alone may be insufficient
compensation especially in the case of very serious and catastrophic
personal injuries. As indicated above it is necessary to look
for a negligent third party such as the manufacturer of a dangerous
or defective product, improper safety devices or some other party
who is at fault. These cases require immediate attention and
expertise because the responsible third party may be difficult
to locate and evidence (such as a piece of defective machinery)
needs to be preserved.