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Construction Site Injuries & Third Party Claims in Washington
Posted in Worksite Injury on December 28, 2020
Construction sites can be very dangerous locations. Workers employed by the company overseeing the site and various subcontractors often work over each other to complete the project, which can lead to oversight and negligence. From dangerous equipment to electrocutions, falling materials, and improperly-secured scaffolding, construction accidents contribute to hundreds of injuries and fatalities each year.
If you suffer an injury on a construction site, you have several legal options available to you. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim or a third-party claim.
Workers’ Compensation Claims in Washington
Any employee who suffers an injury while on the job in Washington has the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. Employers can choose to purchase this insurance through the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), which oversees most workers’ comp claims.
Employers may qualify for self-insurance if they meet financial stability, accident prevention, and administrative requirements. In this case, the employer handles the claims process.
Workers’ comp claims provide the following benefits for injured construction workers.
- Medical benefits for expenses related to the injury
- Wage replacement if your injury prevents you from going to work
- Travel expenses for out-of-the-area medical appointments
- Permanent partial disability or permanent total disability payments, depending on the severity of the injury
- Property damage reimbursement
- Prescription medication payments
You can receive these benefits regardless of negligence; you simply need to prove that you suffered the injury while performing your job duties in order to receive them. However, L&I may deny claims for a number of reasons, including lack of evidence, so it is important to seek legal advice prior to filing a claim. You do have the right to appeal an L&I decision.
If you choose to file a workers’ compensation claim, you will waive your right to pursue a lawsuit against your employer. However, there are certain situations where filing a lawsuit may be in your best interest. If you believe your employer’s intentional acts or negligence caused your accident, speak to an attorney before proceeding with a claim.
L&I Third Party Claims for Construction Accidents in Washington State
In some cases, you may suffer an injury on the construction site due to the negligence of another person. If the negligent party is a person or entity who is not your employer or coworker, you may be eligible to file a third party claim.
A third party claim is a lawsuit that you file to prove that someone’s negligent actions directly caused your accident and subsequent damages. The negligent party may be a general contractor or subcontractor, the manufacturer of a defective product, material suppliers, or landowners who fail to keep their property free of hazards.
To prove your right to damages, you will need to gather enough evidence to prove four important facts.
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care.
- The at-fault party breached the duty of care through a negligent act or omission.
- The at-fault party’s breach of duty directly caused your accident.
- You suffered damages you can collect through your lawsuit.
Third party claims generally result in higher settlements than a typical L&I claim, but each case is different. You have three years from the date of your accident to file this lawsuit, so it is important to act quickly to ensure you retain your right to compensation.
Knowing what to do after a construction accident can be difficult, but a workers’ compensation attorney can help. Your lawyer will have the resources necessary to evaluate and investigate your claim, identify an at-fault party, and determine which legal pathway is right for you. Contact your attorney as soon as possible to discuss your accident and strategize your next steps.