How Does a Construction Site Injury Differ From a Workplace Injury?

How Does a Construction Site Injury Differ From a Workplace Injury?

Construction sites are beehives of activity and workers are often performing dangerous duties throughout their shifts. From scaling roofs and beams to operating heavy machinery and handling potential electrical hazards, dangers lurk in nearly any place and situation.

For the most part, construction site work injuries are just like any other workers’ compensation case. However, one of the many differences is that injured contractors may be entitled to file two claims in order to recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and other related damages.

Workers’ Compensation vs. Personal Injury Cases

First, let’s break down the difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury cases.

Personal injury cases have to do with a person who sustains some sort of injury. These cases revolve around the idea of “fault.” and a concept known as negligence. When a person (or company) acts with negligence and someone is injured as a result, they would be considered at-fault and the injured party may pursue a personal injury case against this party.

Workers’ compensation, on the other hand, is not a fault-based system. Instead, this is a type of insurance coverage that all employers in Washington are required to purchase for every employee.

When a worker is injured in a workplace accident or sustains a job-related injury, workers’ compensation benefits are awarded to this employee, which help pay for the cost of lost wages and any necessary medical treatment. These are known as L&I benefits in Washington and are awarded without consideration as to who caused the work accident.

How Title 51 Impacts Work Injury Cases

If you’re injured at work, your first step would be pursuing workers’ compensation benefits by filing an L&I claim. But in some instances, these benefits may not be enough to cover the total cost of your out-of-pocket expenses. In these situations, you may be wondering whether pursuing a personal injury case would be the next option.

It’s important for Washington workers to understand how Title 51 impacts them after a workplace injury. Also known as the Industrial Insurance Act, Title 51 prevents employees from suing their employers for on-the-job injuries. Essentially, this means that many workers are unable to file personal injury lawsuits against their employers.

One exception to this rule? Independent contractors.

Yes, You Can Get Benefits and File a Third-Party Claim

The main difference between most injured workers and injured construction workers is that the latter may be able to obtain both workers’ compensation benefits as well as file an injury claim against a negligent third party.

Filing a successful third-party claim requires an independent contractor and their injury attorney to show fault and prove negligence. Here are a few parties that may be held liable for injuries to an independent contractor at a construction site:

  • General contractor. This person has a duty to maintain a safe workplace and ensure compliance with WISHA and OSHA regulations; additionally, this person is usually liable for the negligence of the workers he or she delegates.

  • Subcontractor. This person is responsible for ensuring a safe work environment and regarding their work duties and zone under their own control.

  • Materials supplier. This party is responsible for the movement and storage of materials that are used on the work site.

  • Manufacturer of products. This party is responsible for ensuring the safe use of their products; any materials that are defective, toxic, or dangerous can be considered negligence.

  • Landowner. A property owner has a duty to keep their premises free of potential hazards to mitigate the risk of injury to others.

Advocating for Injured Construction Workers

If you sustained injuries while working as a construction worker, please know that Kornfeld Law is here to stand in your corner so you obtain the compensation you need and deserve.

Oftentimes, these cases rely heavily on your attorney’s ability to gather evidence like witness statements, video footage, and history of reports while comparing these to the circumstances that caused the workers’ injury. Rob Kornfeld, our head attorney, has extensive experience representing injured construction workers and a track record of helping many obtain compensation from both third-party lawsuits and workers’ comp benefits.

Our dedicated Seattle injury team is standing by ready to hear your story and pursue justice on your behalf.

Contact Kornfeld Law at (425) 657-5255 to learn more about your legal options today.


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