Construction sites are busy places. Workers of the general and subcontractors crawl over each other in their rush to get the job done. Construction projects sprawl into sidewalks, streets, and public places. People get hurt in and around construction sites. There are many thousands of seriously disabling injuries and hundreds of deaths every year.
Roofs, beams, unprotected openings, and scaffolds are places from which workers’ fall. Equipment, trucks, cranes, and materials strike and injure workers. Trench collapses and falling walls crush workers. Electrocutions happen too often. Construction sties are dangerous places.
Construction site injuries for a worker are for the most part like any other L&I claim. Detailed information about how to handle an L&I claim is available at. L&I Benefit Information and L&I Claims – A Beginners Guide.
The unusual thing about construction site injuries is that they often create two claims.
A worker hurt on any job in Washington State has an L&I workers compensation claim. A construction worker also may have a third party claim.
L&I is a no fault workers’ compensation for job injuries. The worker files an L&I claim and receives medical and money benefits.The injured worker does not have to prove that someone else was at fault.
L&I third party claims are negligence based lawsuits. The injured worker must prove the fault of a third party. You have a third party claim if you are injured on the job by someone who is not your employer or a co-employee. For example a subcontractor injured by the general contractor or a subcontractor injured by a different subcontractor, has a third party claim. He or she also has an L&I claim. You can have both claims at the same time. More information about this at Third Party Claims.
Yes, you can have an L&I claim and also sue a third party. The L&I claim has a 1 year Statute of Limitations. The third party claim has a 3 year Statute of Limitations.
L&I claims don’t pay for all that you have lost. Time loss money is limited. Permanent Partial Disability settlements are small. L&I does not pay enough.
Third party claims can pay more. You can recover for all your lost wages, injuries, pain and suffering, and future loss of earning capacity.
Yes, you can recover under both systems subject to the subrogation rights of L&I. Be wary of L&I subrogation. Proceed with caution. Get details at Third Party Claims.
There are very important time deadlines for both third party claims and L&I claims. Don’t miss your deadline. Learn the rules at Third Party Claims with L&I.
A third party claim requires negligence (proof of fault) to be successful. Here are some examples.
To be successful with a third party lawsuit you will need to prove fault. To prove fault you need evidence. Evidence can disappear quickly. It is important to take pictures, find and talk to witness, gather investigative reports, and encourage WISHA inspectors to visit the site. Get legal advice if you need it
In Washington State, when you have a workers’ compensation claim, you usually cannot also sue your employer or a co-worker for job injuries. The L&I system replaces your ability to sue your employer for negligence. Employers fault doesn’t matter. An exception to this rule is intentional injures. If the employers’ conduct was so over the top that he intended the injury then the employer can also be sued. More information at Can I Sue My Employer?
Another semi-exception to this rule exists for Temporary Workers. For more information see Temporary Agency Employee and Third Party Rights.
The third party election form is important. This is how you talk to L&I about your third party claim. Understand what you are doing before you complete this form. Don’t give up your right to have a third party claim. Get details and a form here, Third Party Election Form.
WISHA, through the Department of Labor & Industries, regulates job site safety in the state of Washington. A WISHA inspector can help you prove fault.