CONSTRUCTION INCIDENTS: WHEN DOES WORKERS’ COMP NOT APPLY?
That insurance protection known as workers’ compensation (or “workers’ comp”) can be a real godsend for many construction companies, as well as construction workers. Knowing that in a majority of cases, workers’ compensation is there quickly to provide some of the financial aid that an injured party would likely need to cover medical expenses and some loss of pay when an injury puts a worker out of work for several days or weeks.
While workers’ compensation can be a valuable tool in many situations, construction sites are not a normal worksite. It is a complicated network of people, equipment and companies all in the same place, and there actually are situations where workers’ comp won’t fit the bill.
The Unique Construction Worksite
While a contractor is generally the one to oversee all activities on a construction site, it may not be always the liable party in the event of an incident. You see, the contractor doesn’t employ everyone that works on site; there are sub-contractors who employ many of the tradesmen at a site, and those companies should have their own safety protocols and processes in place to keep their workers safe.
The general contractor, however, can be responsible for safety protocols between the different groups of workers and schedule work in such a way that workers from different companies aren’t coming into contact with each other and risking injuries not related to the work they are performing.
If you are injured on a worksite, filing a workers’ compensation claim is never a bad idea.
If one of those safety protocols fails and a person gets injured, workers’ compensation can take care of most issues. But what if a safety protocol was not in place, or it was found that the safety mechanism was defective, or chemicals that were used were labeled wrong or stored incorrectly? What if a piece of equipment failed to operate properly?
Where Workers’ Comp Can’t Reach
If there was some negligence on the part of some entity other than the general contractor or a sub-contractor at a project, workers’ compensation may not actually be able to pay out a claim. In that case, if and when a third party can be found to be liable, you may have an option to bring about a personal-injury claim against the third party.
While a general contractor indeed has oversight of the entire worksite, there are just too many moving parts to actually hold the contractor fully responsible or liable for everything that happens on the site, especially if defects or negligence happened that could not have been prevented, known or otherwise accounted for.
If you are injured on a worksite, filing a workers’ compensation claim is never a bad idea, but be sure to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident using your own personal-injury attorney to give you insight and advice while protecting your rights. You know that the construction companies involved on site will have their own investigative teams which will tend to favor their own interests, so you should have your own investigation as well.
Once all the facts of the case are determined, you can be prepared to bring suit if and when workers’ compensation rejects your claim. Injuries and death are not rights of working; they are risks of the job. And your rights to fair compensation and the opportunity to provide for your family shall not be infringed by these risks, especially if you are not at fault.
About The Author
Abraham Jaros, co-partner and founder of Jaroslawicz & Jaros PLLC, a personal injury law firm located in New York. He began his career over 40 years ago and has tried hundreds of cases winning numerous multi-million dollar verdicts on behalf of his clients. When not in the court room he can be found writing information blogs about the current state of personal injury law. He can always be reached on his cell #917.842.9544 or via email [email protected]