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Jonathan Rosenfeld

December 15, 2020

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Construction site injuries and who is at fault

You can file for financial compensation for your injuries sustained on a construction site. How you are compensated as an injured worker and who pays your claim depends on your injury type and what happened.

While the standard workers’ compensation system is available for work-related injuries, you will want to find other potential defendants for your personal injury lawsuit because your recovery can be higher outside the worker’s compensation system.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Helps Construction Worker Injuries

The first thing you should do after a construction site accident is to hire an attorney to figure out how the accident happened and who was at fault.

Absent exceptional circumstances that we will discuss below, you cannot sue your own employer for a construction-related injury.

However, as your personal injury attorney can advise, there are at least six different ways that you can receive compensation for your construction injury:

  • Workers’ compensation claims
  • Product liability lawsuit when construction equipment at the work site malfunctions
  • A lawsuit against one of the other construction companies or subcontractors on the site
  • Filing a claim against a fellow worker that caused the injury
  • A lawsuit against your own employer if the exceptions from the workers’ compensation system apply
  • Filing a court case against the company that is responsible for maintaining the job site

The only entity on a worksite that you cannot sue is your own employer.

However, as you see above, numerous other entities can be responsible for your injuries sustained on a construction site and may have primary or vicarious liability.

Product Liability Lawsuit

One of the leading causes of injuries sustained on a construction site is defective tools and machinery. The following are examples of different types of machinery that could injure a worker:

  • Backhoes
  • Front-loaders
  • Machine Tools
  • Cranes

You can win a product liability lawsuit when you prove that construction equipment was defectively designed or manufactured or the company did not adequately warn you of some dangers.

For example, you could receive compensation if the product’s design was unreasonably dangerous. Alternatively, you may have a case if the pieces were improperly assembled.

Lawsuits against a Sub-contractor for Injuries Sustained on a Construction Site

You are only barred from filing a lawsuit as a plaintiff against your own employer for a construction accident. However, there are often multiple entities on a job site that can be a negligent party. There can be several contractors or subcontractors.

If you are injured by something they did, you can file a lawsuit seeking damages. However, you would need to prove negligence.

Unlike the workers’ compensation system, a personal injury lawsuit requires a finding that someone failed to live up to their standard of care.

If you work for a subcontractor, you can file a lawsuit against the general contractor if they were at fault for the injury.

Other Negligence Lawsuits against a Third Party

There are many other entities against whom you could file a personal injury lawsuit as a third-party claim. A property owner may control the site that is separate from your employer.

The property owner is responsible for occupational safety and must comply with OSHA rules if they control the site.

They could have created a dangerous conditions at the site, such as buried wire or a fall hazard.

However, if your employer controls the site, you must proceed through a workers’ compensation claim.

You could also bring a civil lawsuit against your fellow construction worker if they were negligent and it caused your injury.

However, you would need to consider the likelihood of whether they could pay the jury verdict.

Workers’ Compensation Claim

You can file a workers’ compensation claim if you were at fault for the injury or cannot find another defendant to sue. This type of claim for a worker is a no-fault system.

Thus, you can still receive compensation if you were partially or entirely to blame for what happened.

The drawback to a workers’ compensation claim is that the damages you can receive in a claim are limited. Workers’ compensation claims are typically limited to economic damages.

With workers’ compensation benefits, you are paid for your lost wages from work you have missed and the costs of your medical bills and other medical expenses.

[Learn more about who pays for medical bills after a construction injury.]

You can also be paid for lost earnings capacity from a construction site-related injury.

However, as an injured person, you cannot receive non-economic damages in a workers’ compensation case.

This means that physical pain and suffering are non-compensable in these cases. In addition, you cannot be paid for punitive damages.

The restrictions limit the value of your claim and mean that you should always be looking for a way to bring a lawsuit before you file a workers’ compensation claim.

A Lawsuit Against Your Own Employer

Ideally, you would want to be able to file a personal injury claim against your own employer.

However, as a general rule, you would need a much higher showing than negligence to sue your employer for a construction site injury.

The workers’ compensation program protects employers while ensuring employees can be paid for their injuries sustained on a construction site.

In Illinois, minimal exceptions would allow you to sue nearly all those at fault for the accident except the employer.

You could only file a personal injury lawsuit against an employer if they acted intentionally or did not have workers’ compensation insurance.

Illinois does not have a gross negligence standard as in many other states.

Are you an injured construction worker? You may have a potential construction accident case! Contact the construction accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC.

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