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Workers' Compensation Newsletter

Workers’ Compensation and Construction Accidents

Construction workers’ work is both arduous as well as dangerous. Many construction job sites are inherently hazardous, and some are unsafe because of mismanagement. Due to the nature of this occupation, construction accidents are frequent and Workers’ Compensation issues recur.

Construction Accidents

More than 1,000 construction workers are killed while on the job annually in the United States. Each year also sees more than 100,000 construction workers injured so severely that they need time off work.

Due to misuse of equipment, negligent maintenance, human error, or other reasons, there are numerous ways in which a construction worker can be injured. A few examples include:

  • Construction-related falls
  • Crane instability
  • Defective machines
  • Explosions
  • Falling objects
  • Other third-party negligence
  • Intense light from welding, cutting or brazing

Who is Liable?

Exact rules will vary from state to state, and apportioning fault after a construction accident can become very complex. There are often various companies involved with one job site.

For example, a single job site’s responsibilities could reside with a combination of the following: the property owner, the engineers, the architect, the contractors, and the subcontractors. There may also be documents and agreements signed prior to the commencement of construction that may become additional factors. Pinpointing liability is very challenging in these cases.

Workers’ Compensation Claim for a Construction Accident

Most likely, the injured worker will not be able to sue his employer, as employers are usually protected by Workers’ Compensation. Rules and standard procedures, however, differ from state to state.

In some states, where the injured construction worker is covered by that state’s Workers’ Compensation system, and the injury was due to the fault of the employer, the injured worker must claim Workers’ Compensation only, and cannot pursue an individual claim against his employer.

Conversely, if liability for the accident is determined to be with a company that is affiliated with the job site, but does not employ the injured worker, the employer may be able to make a claim outside of Workers’ Compensation.

Agreements signed before beginning work on the site will control what, if any, parties the employee can bring a claim against. For instance, an architect may have signed an agreement exonerating him from any workplace safety liability, and an injured worker would then not be able to bring a valid claim against the architect.

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