Construction workers are at a high risk for workplace injuries. With heavy machinery, scaffolding, ladders, exposed electrical wires and other hazards, a construction site can be a dangerous place. If you’re injured while working on a construction site, you assume workers’ compensation benefits will cover the costs of your injuries and pay for things like medical expenses and lost wages. However, workers compensation benefits have limits and some injured construction workers should consider a third party claim.
Limitations of Workers Compensation for Construction Workers
Workers compensation benefits generally include medical expenses and bills. However, most employers or their workers compensation insurance company will require you to undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME) with a doctor of their choosing. And you may not be able to see your own doctor for treatment of your injuries.
In addition to the reimbursement of medical expenses, workers compensation includes compensation for your lost income for the time away from work while recovering from your injuries. However, lost income is only paid at a certain percentage of your usual income. In New Jersey, you cannot receive more than 70% of your income, up to the state maximum which was $969/week in 2021.
Workers comp does not offer additional benefits for out-of-pocket expenses for non-medical services or items needed because you’re injured and cannot perform your usual household responsibilities. For instance, if you need to hire someone for cooking and cleaning around the house, that cost is not covered. You also cannot claim intangible losses -- like pain and suffering or loss of quality of life.
The workers compensation system generally precludes employees from suing their employers for a workplace injury. That being said, it may be possible to file a third party claim which allows injured employees to seek compensation for a much wider range of losses than the workers comp system.
Construction Accident Third Party Claims
While workers’ compensation bars you from filing a lawsuit against your employer, there may be other parties liable for a construction accident. By filing a third party claim for your construction accident, you can collect money for damages beyond the limitation of the workers compensation system. In some cases, this could mean compensation for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, or even punitive damages.
In some cases, you may also be able to sue a third party other than your employer who is partially responsible for your injury. Common examples of liable parties for third party lawsuits after a construction accident include:
Property owner. If a property owner fails to keep the premises safe and free from hazards, they could be liable in a claim, even at private residences.
General contractor. In the same way a property owner is required to keep the premises safe and free from hazards, a GC also bears responsibility for keeping the entire construction site safe by coordinating subcontractors and adhering to safety laws and regulations.
Subcontractors. If a subcontractor is hired to install equipment or bring certain machines onto the site and fail to do it properly, thus causing your accident, they could be held liable.
Product manufacturers. If you’re injured by machinery or failed safety equipment, it’s possible a manufacturing defect caused the accident, in which case a lawsuit could be filed against that company.
In some cases it may be possible to receive both workers compensation and file a third party claim. Construction accident cases can be quite complex and another third party’s liability may not be obvious at first. If you or a loved one has been injured while working at a construction site, protect your rights by contacting an attorney who can help you understand your options.
Help with a Construction Injury Accident
A construction site is often chaotic; any one or more entities may be legally liable when a construction worker is injured or killed. If you’ve been injured, you should contact an attorney who will review your case and offer options to seek the maximum amount of compensation.
At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, we are dedicated to assisting clients throughout New Jersey and New York with their injury cases. We have years of experience in both workers compensation and third party claims. Our top-rated attorney team has the extensive resources you need to secure a fair case result. If you or a loved one has been injured at a construction site, contact us immediately to discuss your case.