Your Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation | Filing a Third-Party Claim
Construction sites are among the most dangerous work environments in the United States, with more than 150,000 injuries reported by construction workers every year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’re hurt while working on a construction project, you have the right to pursue compensation for all your losses, including wages and income, unreimbursed medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
Recovering Workers’ Compensation After a Construction Site Accident
You may have the right to file a claim for workers’ compensation. All states except Texas require employers to have workers’ compensation insurance to cover worker injuries. Workers’ compensation benefits are the exclusive remedy for work-related injury caused by the wrongful acts of an employer or coworker. That means that in such cases, an employee may seek benefits only through a workers’ comp claim. If the injuries are caused by an unrelated third party, the injured worker may be able to bring a civil lawsuit for damages against that party.
Texas allows employers to voluntarily opt out of workers’ comp insurance. If they do, however, they can face a civil lawsuit for damages.
Third-Party Claims for Construction Injuries
A third-party claim alleges negligence or wrongful conduct by someone other than an employer or coworker. Third-party claims might be brought for the following types of construction injuries:
- Injuries incurred in a work-related motor vehicle accident, where one of the at-fault motorist was not related to your employer
- Injuries suffered on a construction site because of machinery or equipment that was defectively designed or manufactured by a company other than your employer
- Injuries suffered because of negligence or carelessness on an adjoining property
- Injuries caused by a subcontractor, vendor, or other unrelated third party
When injuries are caused by someone other than your employer or coworker, your recovery is not limited to the benefits available through workers’ compensation. In fact, if both an employer and an unrelated third party contribute to the cause of an accident, the injured worker may file both a workers’ compensation claim and a civil lawsuit at the same time. However, the worker may not recover for the same losses in both claims. For example, if medical expenses are fully covered by worker’s comp, the injured party may not seek to recover them in the civil lawsuit.
Third-Party Claims for Negligence
Many third-party construction injury claims are based on a legal theory of negligence. Under the law, every person in society has a duty to use reasonable care in all their actions. That includes persons driving a car, maintaining property, or operating a business. To prove negligence in a construction site injury case, you must show that:
- The at-fault third-party (someone other than your employer or a coworker) breached the standard of care (i.e., failed to act as a reasonable person would);
- Their failure to act reasonably caused your injury; and
- You suffered losses as a result of the injury.
After a construction site accident, you may be able to recover either workers’ compensation benefits or damages in a civil lawsuit. In some instances, you may be able to collect both. If your injury was caused by the actions of your employer or a coworker, then a workers’ compensation claim is your exclusive remedy for recovery. However, if any of your injuries were caused by someone other than your employer or a coworker, you can file a civil lawsuit for damages.