Who is Liable for a Construction Site Accident in Washington State?

by | Apr 14, 2024 | Personal Injury, Wrongful Death

Like most states, Washington is experiencing robust growth in both urban and suburban areas. According to a recent report, Seattle has experienced a 21 percent increase in the number of new homes built in 2023 versus the number of houses constructed in 2022. Additionally, new construction projects continue to arise as commercial shopping centers, business centers, and other properties take root throughout the greater Seattle area and beyond. Professionals in the construction industry are in high demand as new projects move forward with increasing regularity. However, the bustling energy at a construction site can occasionally turn chaotic or even dangerous for some workers. Seemingly minor oversights may lead to devastating consequences, such as catastrophic injuries or even death.

If you have suffered an injury while working at a construction site in King County, it’s essential to recognize that you have options for recovering the compensation you need to support the various costs associated with your recovery. At Menzer Law, we understand how confusing and overwhelming it can be to cope with an unexpected injury. Suddenly, you are faced with a long and challenging physical recovery, costly medical bills that are piling up quickly, and complex emotions resulting from this traumatic event. As confused as you may feel at this moment, you never have to go through this difficult period alone. Enlisting the guidance of a dedicated and compassionate Seattle personal injury lawyer can give you the clarity and confidence you need to hold the at-fault party responsible for their negligence and failure to keep you safe while on the job. Together, we will explore the details of your case and identify the most appropriate course of action that maximizes your chances of recovering a favorable settlement to help you start getting your life back on track after the construction site incident. Let’s take a look at some of the challenges that are typically involved in establishing legal and financial liability in construction site accident claims in Washington state.

Common Causes of Construction Site Accidents

First, let’s take some time to identify some of the most common factors that cause construction site accidents in Washington state. Since construction projects often involve multiple contractors, subcontractors, and other professionals, the sites themselves tend to be busy and perpetually in motion. Heavy-duty construction equipment, such as cranes, bulldozers, excavators, loaders, forklifts, and other vehicles, may operate at the same time throughout the construction site. Clear communication among construction site workers is essential to ensure the safety of all parties involved in the construction project. However, poor communication, faulty equipment, and other issues can arise at any time, jeopardizing the safety of workers and site visitors. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the following are the top four construction hazards that threaten the physical safety of workers.


Accidents involving a worker who falls from a considerable height are among the most common causes of catastrophic injuries or fatalities in this industry. OSHA urges all construction workers to wear and use personal fall arrest equipment and to use all ladders and scaffolds safely to reduce the odds of suffering a fall-related injury.

Struck-By Accidents

Construction workers can be struck by moving vehicles or equipment at any point, leading to substantial injuries. Anyone on the scene of a construction site should wear high-visibility clothing, so crane operators and construction vehicle drivers can avoid colliding with them.

Caught In Between Incidents

Another common cause of construction site injuries occurs when a worker falls into an unprotected trench or excavation. Falling into an open excavation can cause a range of injuries, such as broken bones, internal bleeding, traumatic brain injuries, and more.


Construction workers are often vulnerable to electrocution, especially if there are live power lines or other electrical hazards present onsite. Electrical shocks can cause significant medical issues, such as cardiac events, burns, nerve injuries, and other serious conditions.

Essentially, negligence, unsafe working conditions, and equipment failures can all contribute to a hazardous environment for construction site workers. Your dedicated and caring Seattle personal injury attorney will work with you to identify the underlying conditions and oversights that led to your injuries. From there, you can determine the party (or parties) responsible for your injuries and how you can recover the compensation you need to support the costs of your recovery.

When Your Employer is the At-Fault Party

Washington’s workers’ compensation laws are designed to help workers who suffer an injury on the job (or develop a work-related injury or health condition) to receive financial benefits to assist them with the costs associated with the work-related injury. According to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, Washington enacted “no-fault” industrial insurance laws in 1911 that required employers in the state’s most dangerous industries to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. With the adoption of these laws, “neither party had to accept blame for the incident, employers could not be sued, and workers were guaranteed medical benefits and partial wage compensation.” Over time, Washington’s workers’ compensation laws were expanded to include occupational diseases and broadened to encompass most classifications of employment.

If you become injured while working at a construction site, you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer or co-worker. Instead, you may file a workers’ compensation claim to receive the benefits provided by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. As you prepare your workers’ compensation claim, you will be asked to provide evidence that shows you were injured while working and that your injuries have impacted you financially. Most workers’ compensation benefits include payments of the medical bills and lost wages you endured because of the work-related injury. It’s important to understand that filing a workers’ compensation claim prohibits you from also filing a lawsuit against your employer for the same incident. Contact Menzer Law, Seattle’s top personal injury law firm, today to learn more about your options for securing the compensation you need to start getting your life back on track after the injury.

Filing a Third-Party Lawsuit

Most construction sites involve multiple parties, such as the construction company, several subcontractors, and other industry professionals. Depending on the details of your case, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party (other than your employer) to recover additional compensation. It’s worth working with a skilled and experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer to determine whether it’s worth pursuing any of the below third-party claims to support your recovery.

Personal Injury Lawsuit Against a Negligent Third Party

If an individual or company other than your employer acted negligently, and this negligence led to a construction site accident that injured or harmed you in some way, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against this third party. For example, if a subcontractor, like an electrician, neglected to keep the construction site safe or if they failed to comply with industry safety standards, this oversight may have led to a foreseeable accident or injury. Since this subcontractor is not your employer, you may decide to pursue a civil claim against the subcontractor or their company to recover damages for the injuries you suffered as a result of their negligent actions.

Product Liability Claims Against Negligent Manufacturers

Some construction accidents are caused by defective machinery or faulty equipment. For instance, if the ladder you used to perform your job at the construction site collapsed suddenly because of a manufacturing defect, you may file a claim against the manufacturer, retailer, or wholesaler. The experienced legal team at Menzer Law is ready to help you assess the details of your case to determine whether it’s in your best interest to pursue a product liability claim against a negligent company or manufacturer.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Washington State

Sometimes, a construction accident is so severe that it becomes fatal. If your loved one was killed in a construction site incident caused by a negligent third party, you may elect to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover damages for the unfathomable losses you have suffered. While nothing can bring your loved one back, filing a wrongful death claim can hold the at-fault party responsible for their inexcusable actions and secure you the economic security you need to start picking up the pieces.

How a Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You

Suffering a work-related injury of any kind can be overwhelming and stressful. Without warning, you can find yourself facing a long and costly hospital stay, months of physical therapy, or even permanent damage to your mobility or cognitive function. As chaotic and daunting as this experience may be, you are never alone. Enlisting the guidance and support of a trusted and empathetic Seattle personal injury attorney is the best way to understand your options for pursuing and securing the compensation you deserve. Now is the time to start building a strong workers’ compensation claim or filing a third-party lawsuit to maximize your chances of receiving a fair and favorable outcome.

If you have suffered a construction site injury in the greater Seattle area, you have the right to seek compensation to support the costs of your recovery. Reach out to the dedicated legal team at Menzer Law today by calling (206) 903-1818 to schedule a complimentary review of your claim.