Third-Party Negligence in Workplace Accident Claims
Although employees may be familiar with workers’ compensation, many are unaware how to file a claim, the benefits they can get, and more. One of the most common misconceptions is that you have to sue your employer to get workers’ compensation.
In reality, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. The benefits are designed to help cover expenses for injured workers without lengthy settlement negotiations or courtroom battles. Although employers are generally not considered liable for workplace accidents, you may have claims against one or more negligent third parties for injuries you sustain on the job.
Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi can help you explore all of your legal options if you have been injured at work in New Jersey or New York. Contact a workplace accident attorney free of charge today.
Who Is Liable for Workplace Accidents?
Questions of liability do not apply in workers’ compensation claims. In most cases, whether the accident was caused by an employee, the employer, or another party is irrelevant. Workers’ comp benefits are available regardless of who is at fault.
Fault and liability are at issue in claims separate from the workers’ compensation process. Cases brought against third parties for negligence in the workplace are subject to the rules of personal injury law.
Liable parties in personal injury claims stemming from workplace accidents may include:
The Owner of the Worksite
Though injuries can occur in any type of workplace, construction accidents are a frequent source of third-party liability claims. One of the most common parties sued in these claims is the owner of a property where construction work is being performed.
Property owners have a duty to ensure the premises are safe for workers during construction. If they maintain control of the worksite – rather than delegating responsibilities to a contractor and/or additional parties – they generally also have a duty to provide workers with safety equipment and take other steps to minimize potential hazards.
Some accidents, such as slips, trips, and falls, may be grounds for a premises liability claim against the owner of the property. Other cases may involve complex liability on the part of the owner, a general contractor, and/or subcontractors on the project.
Contractor and Subcontractors
Contractors are often hired by businesses and property owners to direct and supervise construction projects. In such an arrangement, the contractor takes on the responsibility for worker safety.
Negligence on the part of contractors may result in OSHA violations and other issues that put workers in danger. You may have a claim against both the general contractor as well as subcontractors whose errors caused the accident.
Of the jobs on construction sites that are commonly handled by subcontractors, errors in electrical and trench work have a high likelihood of causing serious accidents. Electrocutions and trench collapses are two of the most common causes of death among construction workers.
Manufacturers of Tools and Materials
In some cases liability for an accident may rest with parties outside of the workplace itself. This is commonly the case when workers unknowingly use defective products on the job.
Defects can lead to a number of different hazards for workers, including:
- Accidents involving hand and power tools
- Heavy machinery accidents
- Faulty safety equipment (harnesses, hard hats, safety glasses, etc.)
- Building collapses caused by faulty materials
- Exposure to toxic chemicals and materials
- Flammable materials that cause fires and explosions
Liability for unsafe construction equipment can be complex. Multiple companies may be liable for errors in the design or manufacturing of tools, equipment, and materials, but it is important not to overlook the role that negligent supervision can play in a workplace accident. You may have claims against the manufacturer(s) of a defective product as well as the owner or contractor for failing to inspect the equipment used by the workers.
Car accidents are unfortunately common in construction zones. Despite the warning sizes, cones, and other safety features, careless and impatient motorists may seriously injure and even kill workers who are on foot or operating heavy equipment.
Liability for a crash in a road construction zone is similar to other types of vehicle and pedestrian accident claims. If negligence on the part of the driver caused the accident, seriously injured workers may be entitled to compensation in a claim against the motorist.
How Do I Determine Liability for a Workplace Accident?
To prevail in a claim outside of workers’ compensation, you generally need to prove that the negligence of one or more parties caused the accident and your injuries. Construction sites are dynamic environments where evidence of an unsafe condition may not last for long. So, it is crucial to contact a work injury lawyer as soon as possible to begin investigating the accident.
Claims against owners, contractors, and/or other third parties must provide compelling evidence of negligence. The standard in some defective product claims is different; you may only need to show that the product in question was defective and the defect caused your injuries. This is known as strict liability.
Strict liability may also apply in accident claims involving scaffolding. New York has implemented a unique scaffolding law that imposes strict liability on owners and contractors for the safety of scaffolds on a construction site – even if the responsible party or parties take all precautions in relation to scaffolding on the worksite, they are still liable in the event of an accident.
New Jersey law does not impose strict liability in scaffolding accident claims. However, you may still be able to recover compensation if you can demonstrate that an owner, contractor, or other third party was negligent in its duty to provide safe scaffolds.
Contact a Workplace Accident Attorney Today
An injury in the workplace can seriously impact your life. You may require significant and ongoing medical treatment, struggle to pay your bills, and even face long-term or permanent disability. These issues can create hardships for your family as well.
Unfortunately, workers in construction and other industries are at a high risk of life-altering accidents. Workers’ comp may cover some losses, but the benefits will not fully make up for all that you suffer.
The experienced attorneys at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi can assist you with all aspects of applying for workers’ compensation benefits. We also thoroughly investigate workplace accidents to determine if you have additional claims. You may be entitled to significantly more compensation if one or more negligent third parties are responsible for your injuries.
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If you have been injured in a workplace accident, please call (201) 585-9111 today for a free case review. Our attorneys serve workers throughout New Jersey and New York.