Construction Accident Claims
When a construction site worker gets injured on the job, it can create both L&I claims and Third Party Claims. The fact that construction site injuries often create two claim opportunities makes them unusual, complicated to navigate and rewarding.
Source: National Safety Council Industry Profiles, Nonfatal Construction Injuries
Source: National Safety Council Industry Profiles, Fatal Construction Injuries
In 2020 alone, the National Safety Council reported 74,520 nonfatal construction injuries and 1,008 fatal injuries. While construction accident L&I claims are similar to other workers’ compensation claims, they are unique. Depending on the nature of the injury, the injured worker may have more than one claim. The two possible claims are
- L&I or Workers’ Compensation Claim
- Third-Party Claims
By default, any worker hurt on the job in Washington State has an L&I workers’ compensation claim. However, construction sites often have workers on-site who are employed by various different companies. When a worker is injured on a construction site by someone who isn’t their employer or co-employee, they have a third-party claim in addition to their workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ Compensation Claim for Construction Accidents
L&I workers’ compensation is the first resort insurance coverage for nearly all workers in Washington State, including construction workers. L&I is no-fault workers’ compensation coverage, meaning an injured construction worker does not need to prove someone was at fault for their injury. If you are hurt on the job you have an L&I claim. However, the no-fault nature of L&I also provides employer immunity against legal action. As a result, an injured construction worker who has an L&I claim generally cannot also sue their employer or co-employee for negligence. Furthermore, L&I workers’ compensation only covers economic damages and does not include non-economic damages, like pain and suffering.
L&I workers’ compensation is coverage of first resort, available to any construction employee injured on the job, regardless of who is at fault. After a job injury, the worker and their doctor file a Report of Accident with the Department of Labor and Industries, which will begin the L&I claim for medical and monetary benefits.
An employee of a subcontractor was injured when a co-employee accidentally drove over their foot with a work vehicle. Since the employee was injured by a co-employee working for the same subcontractor, this injured worker has an L&I claim but no Third-Party Claim.
Third-Party Claims for Construction Accidents
Often, construction site accidents also involve third-party claims. An injured worker has a third-party claim if they are injured while on the job by someone who is not their employer or a co-employee. A third-party claim is a personal injury claim coupled with an L&I claim arising from the same set of facts. When you have both an L&I claim and a personal injury claim, the personal injury claim is called a third-party claim. It’s important to note that third-party claims are negligence (fault) based which require the injured worker to prove the negligence of the third party.
An employee of a subcontractor was injured when a different subcontractor dropped a tool onto their head. Since the employee sustained their injuries at the hands of someone who is not their employer or co-employee, they have an L&I claim and a third-party personal injury claim.
An injured construction worker would want to pursue a third-party claim because L&I often pays less than the injured worker lost. Third-party claims pay monies not available from L&I, including the recovery of all lost wages, injuries, pain and suffering, and future loss of earning capacity.
Understanding Fault in L&I Third-Party Claims
To succeed with a third-party construction personal injury lawsuit, you must prove fault. To prove fault, you must understand the rules and collect evidence that can disappear quickly. It’s crucial to take pictures, find and speak with witnesses, gather investigative reports, and encourage WISHA inspectors to visit the site. A breach of responsibility is fault. The following are the responsibilities of different agents found on a construction site:
- The general contractor has a common law duty to maintain a safe workplace and a statutory obligation to comply with WISHA. The general also has vicarious liability for the negligence of parties to whom it delegates and for the negligence of parties over whom it exercises control.
- Subcontractors are responsible for ensuring a safe workplace regarding their scope of work and the zone of danger under their control. A breach of duty is evidence of negligence.
- The material suppliers are responsible for the movement and storage of the materials they bring onto the work site.
- The manufacturer of products can be the subject of a successful third-party lawsuit. They are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their product’s safe use, which can be defective, toxic, or dangerous.
- Landowners should keep their property free of dangerous conditions. If their negligence injures you, consider a third-party lawsuit.
Common Types of Construction Accidents
With so many workers performing various dangerous tasks in hazardous conditions, the injuries and accidents possible on a construction site are frequent and significant. However, not all injuries and accidents are as likely as others. The following are common elements often involved in a construction accident
- Exposed rebar
- Moving vehicles
- Unmarked hazards
- Burn risks
- Electrical shocks
- Falling material
- Trench collapses
- Chemical exposure
- Lack of safety meetings
- Crane injuries
- Careless subcontractors
- Other unsafe conditions
Additionally, there are common construction accident situations seen repeatedly by Seattle construction accident lawyers, including road construction, crane, and trench accidents. Construction site attorneys, crane accident lawyers, and road construction lawyers have a working knowledge of construction law and medical trauma. It’s their job to prove that your injuries result from the defendant’s negligence.
Road Construction Accidents
Road construction work puts the project, the workers, and the driving public in close proximity. As a result, serious accidents happen. Common causes of road construction accidents include
- Negligent traffic control
- Confusing signage
- Poor lane marking
- Rough surfaces
- Distracted driving
- Bad lighting
- Roadway hazards
Crane accident law is unique. As a result, negligence and a violation of WISHA crane rules must be proven when serious injuries occur. If you’ve been injured in a crane accident, a crane construction accident lawyer will help you discover and prove
- Improper rigging
- Inadequate assembly
- Operator error
- Boom collapse
- Lack of safety precautions
Excavation is one of the most dangerous construction activities performed. One cubic yard of soil weighs as much as 3,000 pounds (the weight of a car or small truck). The sheer mass of soil in a collapse often results in severe injury or death. Contractors are required to protect workers in and around trenches. Trench digging injuries occur to workers in many ways, including
- Trench collapse burying a worker
- A worker struck by heavy equipment while in a trench
- Worker falling into an unmarked trench
- Worker struck by objects falling into the trench
- Worker electrocution from underground utilities
- Workers injured by excavation-related explosions
- A worker injured when trying to rescue a fellow worker
Insurance Companies and Lawyers
Construction site accidents are vigorously defended by experienced insurance adjusters and their stable of aggressive defense lawyers. To get the insurance company to take you seriously you may wish to have your own lawyer.
Consult With A Seattle Construction Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve suffered an injury while working in the construction industry and require professional advice, contact the Seattle construction accident lawyers at Sharpe Law Firm. We are experts in helping injured workers in all sectors, including injured construction workers. Want to receive the maximum compensation available through their L&I and Third-Party Claims? Then contact us.
Our law firm is committed to injury victims. We never represent employers or insurance companies. To learn how a Seattle construction accident lawyer can help with your case, give us a call or schedule your complimentary consultation through our website today.
Frequently Asked Construction Accident Questions
Can I Have Both an L&I and a Third Party Claim? Can I Sue the Third Party?
Yes, you can have an L&I and a third-party claim after a construction accident. You can recover under both systems subject to the subrogation rights of L&I. However, proceeding with a third-party claim while being wary of L&I’s subrogation is essential.
Additionally, each claim has separate statutes of limitations, with the L&I statute of limitations being one year and the Third-Party Claims statute of limitations being three years.
Can I Sue My Employer?
You can sue a third party, but you cannot sue your employer or coworker for a job injury. The L&I system replaces your ability to sue your employer for their negligence regardless of their fault. However, this rule has a few exceptions, including intentional injuries and temporary agency employees.
Who Conducts Accident Investigations on Construction Sites?
Accident investigations are conducted by WISHA, OSHA, L&I, employers, the worker’s construction accident lawyers, private investigators, and insurance companies.
How do I report an accident at a construction site?
When Filing an L&I claim, injured construction workers will want to file their accident report during their first doctor’s visit after their injury.
Every employer has its policy about reporting an accident. The best approach is to inform your supervisor of your injury the same day and follow company policy. That does not mean you should see a doctor recommended by your employer.
Insurance companies will have their reporting requirements found in the policy. They, too, might be on the hook to make payments due to an accident. If you are going to use your insurance, then report your accident.
Finally, L&I has mandatory employer reporting requirements for injuries that involve a fatality, inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, and loss of eye injuries. Report to 1-800-423-7233 within 8 hours
What is a Third-Party Election Form?
The third-party election form starts the third-party claim. This form is crucial because it is how you tell L&I what to do and where to go. Before completing this form, you must understand what you are doing to avoid giving up your right to a third-party claim.
Contact a Seattle construction accident attorney to assure that your third-party election form is completed correctly.