What Are Third-Party Claims in Construction Site Accidents

by Matthew Hennesy on Oct. 13, 2017

Civil & Human Rights Constitutional Law Accident & Injury 

Summary: As a construction site worker, you know the importance of safety on the job. And according to regulations determined by OSHA, numerous inspection procedures and safety practices are supposed to be upheld on construction sites at all times to ensure the safety of the workers.

Still, accidents can and do happen on construction sites, and often when they do, they’re serious. It’s not uncommon for construction site injuries to involve broken bones; lost limbs, fingers, or toes; paralysis, and other injuries that require invasive surgery and long periods of recovery. This can mean months without work or possibly never working again.

All Injuries Caused by Negligence Deserve Compensation

Nearly all on-the-job injuries compel compensation for lost wages, pain, and suffering. In standard personal injury cases, this compensation is sought through a personal injury claim against the liable party. For example, someone who slipped on ice outside a business and incurred serious injuries could sue that business for negligence and compensation.

This isn’t exactly the case when it comes to getting injured while working on a construction site. Even if your injuries were caused by the negligence of your employer, in the state of Georgia, employees cannot sue their employers for injuries. Instead, they are given workers’ compensation.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Employees cannot sue their employers for on-the-job injuries in the state of Georgia because of something called workers’ compensation that protects employers and employees in the event that an employee is injured on the job.

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance. It gives employees medical benefits and missed wages when they’ve been injured on the job, and in exchange, it makes it illegal for workers to sue their employers for injury compensation. What’s important to note here, however, is that sometimes, workers’ compensation does not cover the entirety of your costs when you’ve been injured and out of work long-term. This is where third-party claims come in.

What Is a Third-Party Claim?

What many Georgia construction workers do not know is that something called a third-party claim exists in addition to workers’ compensation.

Third-party claims are legal claims brought against — not your employer — but another third party who was fully or partially at-fault for your accident. This might be an individual or a business, but it has to be a party whose negligence contributed to your injuries. Compensation brought in from a third-party claim is rewarded in addition to the payments provided through workers’ compensation.

Here are some examples of situations where third-party liability claims might be relevant:

  • If while driving a construction vehicle on the job, a civilian driver caused you an accident and subsequent injuries, you could sue that driver for compensation.
  • If while operating heavy equipment on the job, a part of your equipment was faulty and caused an error that led to serious injuries, a claim could be made against the manufacturer of the equipment company.
  • If you’re injured while working under the employment of a subcontractor, who is on the job working for a general contractor, and the general contractor’s negligence led to serious injuries, you could file a claim against the general contractor.

As you can see, all of these claims are against an entity who was not your immediate employer, but who was fully or partially responsible for your injuries.

What Are the Most Common Situations That Necessitate Third-Party Claims?

Not all construction accidents warrant a third-party claim. But because of the nature of construction and the numerous parties and entities involved in the daily operations on a construction site, there is indeed more of a chance that the negligence of a third party — or multiple third parties — could be the cause of a serious accident.

Rooting out who these parties are so that you can be adequately compensated for your serious injuries and lost wages is something that an experienced personal injury attorney can do. Here are some of the most common reasons why third-party claims are filed after construction site injuries:

  • Defective equipment and tools
  • Uneven and dangerous stairs and missing or faulty hand rails
  • Slip and fall situations
  • High lead levels
  • Electrical hazards
  • Collapsing ceilings and buildings
  • Fire hazards and explosions
  • Extremely hot conditions
  • Exposure to toxic fumes or asbestos
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Vehicle and heavy equipment accidents

OSHA regulations are supposed to protect construction workers from conditions like these. Still, if any of these conditions are caused by your employer’s faulty compliance, you cannot sue them. If, however, the conditions were the result of another party involved on the site, you may have a legitimate third-party lawsuit to bring against that party.

First Steps to Take if You’ve Been Injured on a Construction Site

Whether you are filing a claim for workers’ compensation with your employer or filing a claim against a third-party, there are numerous particular steps that you must follow in order to comply with the law.

It all starts with what you do immediately after your accident. Here’s how you should approach the situation:

1. Call emergency services.

The first thing you should do in any serious injury situation is call 9-1-1. Ensure that help is on the way for you and anyone else who is injured.

2. Document the scene.

In any personal injury case, the more documentation of the event that you have, the better. Take photos of various angles of the accident scene, photograph your injuries, write down anything you remember about the incident, ask bystanders what they saw, and don’t forget to get the full names and phone numbers of anyone involved. Once emergency services arrive on the scene, make sure to get a copy of the police report and any medical reports as well.

3. Start filing the proper workers’ compensation paperwork.

You’ll need to meet numerous deadlines to apply for workers’ compensation, and the clock starts ticking right away on the day of your accident. This can be a complicated process, and if you miss your deadlines, you may lose your compensation. Speaking with a lawyer can help you ensure you get the workers’ compensation you deserve.

4. Start legal proceedings for a third-party case.

Finally, begin your claim against any third-parties who were liable for your injuries. You will need an experienced personal injury lawyer to undertake this process as it is also laden with paperwork and deadlines and requires unique legal knowledge.

The Importance of Talking With a Personal Injury Attorney

Knowing exactly what to do in the event of an on-the-job accident can save you complications and financial losses down the line. But again, it can still be a tricky process that involves abundant legal knowledge, paperwork, and deadlines. Attempting this mountain of work while also dealing with your injuries can make for an overwhelming situation.

To help, you can weigh your legal options and file the claims you wish to bring against a third party by talking to a personal injury lawyer in your area. Look for one who specializes in third-party construction accident claims. An experienced attorney will often meet with you for a free consultation. Many personal injury lawyers even work on contingency, which means that you only pay them if you win your case. Call a personal injury lawyer near you today to learn more about your legal options.

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