Construction can be a dangerous profession and construction workers can face serious injuries because of accidents or unsafe working conditions. There are certain state and federal laws which promote safety for construction workers and there are different legal options available in case there is an injury.

What are the Main Legal Solutions for Injured Workers?

When a worker is injured on the job, they can get compensation from their employer or from another party. Although the laws can vary by state and apply differently depending on the type of injuries, the three main legal options for an injured employee are:

One or more of these legal options may be available for construction workers.

What is a Workers’ Compensation Claim for Construction Workers

You are probably eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you were injured while doing construction work. The workers’ compensation system applies for most occupations and it can vary from state to state. However, all workers’ compensation systems generally have certain features in common such as:

  • “No Fault” System for Payment of Benefits: You do not have to prove that another individual or entity was negligent or otherwise caused your injury. You only have to prove that you were injured and that the injury occurred in the course and scope of your employment.
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance: Each employer is required to carry this type of insurance and benefits resulting from an injury claim are paid through this insurance.
    • A workers’ compensation claim is in some ways more convenient compared to the other options because you do not have to go through expensive litigation to prove that someone else was responsible for your injuries. 
    • A workers’ compensation claim usually pays for medical expenses, lost wages and partial or permanent disability but a workers’ compensation claim may not cover other types of damages such as pain and suffering. Thus, the benefits from this type of claim may be more limited.

What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Construction Workers?

The rules for workers’ compensation only apply in the context of a direct employer-employee relationship. However, it is possible that a third party caused your injuries. For example, many different individuals and entities are involved in most construction projects such as:

  • A general contractor;
  • Multiple subcontractors;
  • A property owner;
  • Engineers;
  • Architects; and/or
  • Material suppliers.

If you want to file a personal injury claim, you need to prove that some individual or organization other than your employer is wholly or partially liable for the incident which led to the injuries. In order to prevail in a personal injury claim, you need to prove the following elements:

  • The defendant had a duty to provide for the safety of the construction employee;
  • The defendant failed to meet that duty; and
  • The defendant’s action or inaction led to injuries for the construction employee.

Thus, parties other than the employer can be responsible for unsafe conditions. For example, if an owner of a building which is under construction regularly tells the workers what to do and how to do it, the owner can be held responsible for any injuries which result from issuing these directions.

What is a Products Liability Lawsuit in the Construction Industry?

An employee can be injured by a piece of equipment not because of improper use of that equipment but rather because the equipment had a design flaw or was poorly manufactured. In these situations, you can bring a civil lawsuit for product liability.

The defendants can be anyone from designers of the equipment to the suppliers of the parts used in the assembly process. You generally must prove the following elements to prevail in a products liability claim:

  • The equipment or tool which caused your injury was unreasonably dangerous when it left the manufacturer or the supplier;
  • You were using the equipment or tool in the manner in which it was intended to be used; and
  • The equipment or tool had a dangerous defect that caused your injury. 

What is OSHA?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency that regulates safety in different industries, including in the construction industry. The agency also conducts research on safety, sets safety standards, keeps track of workplace health and safety statistics and enforces safety standards by conducting inspections and imposing penalties for violations.

Any violation of the regulations set by this agency will generally be considered a breach of the duty of care and it is important for all participants in the construction industry to comply with the rules enacted by this agency.

Should I Contact a Lawyer for a Lawsuit Related to Being a Construction Worker?

The construction profession has some inherent dangers and construction workers can face serious injuries at their workplace. If you were injured while performing your duties, it is important to consult with an experienced employment lawyer who can help you recover compensation and represent you in court if necessary.