3rd Party Liability In Construction Injuries

EMT loading patient into ambulance

EMT loading patient into ambulance

There is no doubt that construction work is among the most dangerous to perform.  Statistics from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that regulates workplace safety show that in 2014 there were 4,679 persons killed while on-the-job.  20.5% of those killed were engaged in construction work.  Nearly 60% of the construction fatalities were attributed to falls, electrocution, falling objects, crane accidents and from being caught in-between a piece of equipment.

While workers injured in the course and scope of their employment are afforded workers’ compensation benefits in Massachusetts, regardless of fault, from their employer’s insurer that pay for medical expenses and about 75% of lost earnings among other expenses, there are avenues to compensation from third parties that can provide additional funds, sometimes significant.

In numerous construction accidents, the cause of the injury can be traced to negligence by a party other than the employer.  Third party liability in construction accidents and the added insurance coverage can provide substantial compensation for the injured worker in certain cases. Responsible parties can include subcontractors, building or property owners, a construction superintendent, architect or equipment manufacturer, venders on site as well as other private parties.  To hold such parties liable requires that you prove that they owed a duty of care to you but breached that duty by engaging in negligent or intentional conduct that caused your injuries.

Examples of Negligent Conduct on Construction Sites

Third party claims and lawsuits can provide much needed compensation for workers who sustain serious or catastrophic injuries. Examples of cases where third parties were held liable to injured workers include:

  • Negligent design or manufacture of safety devices or equipment such as lack of shut-off valves or guarding
  • Use of substandard materials in constructing scaffolds and other structures
  • Faulty demolition plans crafted by engineer and/or architect
  • Collapsed wall or ditch constructed or fabricated by another subcontractor
  • Failure to warn of dangerous conditions by subcontractor or property owner
  • Motor vehicle accidents caused by third parties
  • Another subcontractor neglects to cover an opening, drops a heavy object onto a worker or strikes another worker with a crane or other piece of equipment
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals

Third Party Issues with Construction Injuries

Third party liability in construction claims and lawsuits include awards for pain and suffering, which workers’ compensation insurance does not provide.  Also, a workers’ compensation insurer is entitled reimbursement from any settlement or award, though your Massachusetts construction accident lawyer can negotiate a settlement.

Another aspect of third party liability can be the difficulty in proving liability. If you allege defective design or manufacture of a device or piece of equipment, this involves complex issues of product liability law where it must be shown, usually through expert testimony, that the item was unreasonably dangerous.

Another obstacle is proving what the accident site looked like on the day of the incident since work sites change constantly and contractors are not eager to leave neglected work areas so as to show their negligent responsibility. Testimony from co-workers, photographs and results of an OSHA investigation can provide valuable evidence of omissions, defects, impaired workers or other conditions that caused an accident.

Retain Construction Accident Law Firm Burns & Jain

Construction accident claims demand the skills and experience of a construction accident lawyer who has handled workers’ compensation as well as third party liability in construction accidents. Knowing how to handle product liability actions and interpreting OSHA investigation results to the benefit of an injured worker is essential in these cases. A further benefit is having a legal representative who can confidently negotiate a settlement with the employer’s insurer as well as the third party carrier. Neil Burns & Roshan Jain are construction accident lawyers who have handled such matters for over 30 years combined. Contact his office today for a free evaluation of your construction accident claim.