Construction sites are often beehives of activity, with multiple crews working on the same job to get it done on time. With so much going on, it is little wonder that so many construction workers are hurt on the job each year. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 9 million workers in the construction industry are at risk of fatal and nonfatal injuries each year.
Construction site injuries can happen in any number of ways, from being struck by falling objects, to dangerous and defective products, to electrocutions, explosions and chemical exposures. In some cases, injured workers are limited to filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, construction workers who are hurt on the job may also be able to pursue a legal action against the general contractor.
This type of third-party claim is based on a theory of negligence. If you believe that you were injured due to the negligence of a general contractor or another subcontractor, a Washington construction accident lawyer can help you determine your rights. Reach out to our law firm today for a free initial consultation about your case.
When Can You Sue a General Contractor for Injuries?
There are two ways that a general contractor may be held liable for a construction accident. First, employees of that general contractor who are injured on the job may file a workers’ comp claim to recover medical benefits, lost wages, and other compensation for their injuries. Second, an injury victim who is self-employed or working for a subcontractor on the project may be able to pursue a legal claim against the general contractor for their injuries and losses.
In Washington, workplace injuries and illnesses are typically handled through the workers’ compensation system. Workers’ comp is an exclusive remedy, which means that you typically cannot sue your employer for injuries suffered on the job. However, if you were hurt on a construction site, you may be able to file an injury claim against another entity – such as a general contractor, or another subcontractor on the project whose negligence caused your injuries.
Negligence is a legal concept that involves the failure to use the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation. A licensed general contractor may be considered negligent when they violate a safety standard, fail to maintain safe worksite; fail to supervise the subcontractors who they have engaged, or when they fail to do something that a “reasonable” general contractor would on a similar construction project. For example, if a general contractor fails to adequately secure scaffolding, which causes an employee of a subcontractor to fall and suffer injuries such as broken bones, they would be considered negligent.
Given the interplay between workers’ comp and personal injury law, construction accident cases can be complicated. In some cases, however, you will need more than workers’ compensation to pay for the full extent of your injuries and losses, including your pain and suffering. In this situation, a skilled construction accident lawyer can help you determine if you have a valid legal claim against the general contractor, property owners, other subcontractors, and/or another third party.
How to File a Third Party Claim Against a General Contractor
If you have been injured on a construction site, then you may be able to file legal action against the general contractor whose poor supervision, failure to follow the safety rules, or carelessness caused your injury. Through a lawsuit, you can seek compensation for all of your injuries, including medical bills, future medical treatment, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, and even your emotional trauma and physical pain and suffering.
After a construction site injury, a seasoned construction accident lawyer can help you determine whether you have a valid claim against the general contractor or any other party. Keep in mind that there may be more than one entity that can be held liable for your injuries. Your construction attorney will fully investigate the facts of the case to determine who can be held responsible for your injuries.
A personal injury action typically begins with a demand letter, which will be sent to the contractor’s insurance company. In this letter, your attorney will set out the facts of the case, the legal reasons why the construction company is liable for your injuries, and make a demand for compensation. Once the insurer has received this letter, the negotiation process can begin.
Many personal injury cases are resolved through settlement – often without ever having to file a lawsuit. However, if there is an unresolved legal issue or question as to liability, the insurance company may refuse to offer you a fair settlement. Insurers may also offer lowball amounts or deny legitimate claims as a way to maximize profits.
If you have a good claim a skilled construction accident attorney will then file a lawsuit on your behalf. After a lawsuit is filed, negotiations can still continue as each side investigates the matter, exchanges information and prepares legal motions. If a fair settlement cannot be achieved, then your lawyer will y take the case to court and ask a jury to award damages in your favor.
When Should You Contact a Lawyer About a Construction Injury?
If you have been hurt while working on a construction project, you should reach out to a skilled construction accident attorney as soon as possible. In Washington State, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is just 3 years. With some exceptions, this means that if you do not file a claim within 3 years of the date of injury, it will be barred entirely.
Workers’ comp claims must be filed within 1 year of the date of injury. If you are pursuing a workers’ compensation claim against your employer in addition to a third-party claim, you will want to make sure that you do so in time. For these reasons, it is important to contact an attorney for a free consultation as soon as possible after you are injured.
Can You File a Workers’ Comp Claim and a Personal Injury Lawsuit for a Construction Accident?
If you have been hurt on a construction site, then you may be able to pursue both a workers’ comp claim as well as a personal injury lawsuit against a third party, such as a general contractor. In many situations, workers’ compensation benefits are insufficient to cover the full extent of injured workers’ injuries. A third-party claim against the contractor, property owners, other subcontractors, or another third party, can help to ensure that you get the money that you deserve for your losses.
These types of construction injury claims require an understanding of Washington law, including how workers’ comp, personal injury, and other types of legal actions intersect. An experienced Seattle construction accident attorney can help you determine your legal rights, and work with you to achieve justice.
My Boss Says I Can Only Get Workers’ Comp for My Construction Accident. Can I Still File a Lawsuit?
Possibly. If you were injured because of the negligence of someone other than your employer or a co-worker, then you might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them. There are also some limited exceptions to the rule that you can only pursue workers’ comp against your employer, such as if your employer intentionally injured you.
The best way to learn about your legal rights isn’t by asking your boss – but by consulting with a knowledgeable attorney. Reach out to the Menzer Law today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Seattle construction accident attorney.
Hurt on a Construction Site? Reach Out Today.
Construction workers are one of the most at-risk groups for on-the-job injuries. If you have been seriously hurt on a construction site, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the general contractor or another party.
Based in Seattle, the Menzer Law represents injury victims throughout Washington. If you have been hurt on a construction job, we will fight for your right to maximum compensation. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation, call our law office at 206-903-1818 or fill out our online contact form.