All workers in construction have the right to work on a safe work site. The law of Washington State provides significant safeguards for construction workers in order to minimize or eliminate on-the-job injuries. When those safeguards fail, a worker has the right to pursue the responsible party for compensation for their injuries. This right is in addition to the benefits a worker will receive from the Department of Labor & Industries (“L&I”).
A claim for injuries can be made against the general contractor or a subcontractor, as long as the general or subcontractor is not the injured person’s employer. Such a claim is called a “third party claim.” Pursuant to Stute v. PMBC, 114 Wn.2d 454, 788 P.2d 545 (1990), a general contractor has a non-delegable duty to assure safety on the job site, and has the ultimate responsibility under Washington law for job safety and health at the job site.
If you are injured at a construction site it is important for you to immediately seek medical treatment. An L&I claim will be opened on your behalf by the healthcare provider. If your claim is accepted, the Department of Labor & Industries will pay for your medical treatment and time loss if you are unable to return to work.
Employers must report to L&I within eight hours a death, probable death, or the inpatient hospitalization of any employee due to an on the job injury. When this occurs, the Department will perform an investigation into the accident. The department investigator will want to speak with you to obtain your version of how the accident occurred. Again, it is important that you speak to a lawyer before you are interviewed, if at all possible.
When you are injured on the job, in addition to having an L&I claim that compensates your for your medical bills and time loss (as well as other benefits), you may also have a third party claim against an entity that caused your injuries. If there is the potential that you have a third party claim, this should be investigated by an attorney immediately so that all evidence can be obtained to prove your case. A third party claim can be made to help you recover the full damages for your injuries to include claims for pain and suffering damages for which the department does not compensate you under your L&I claim.
Read more about third party claims, including examples of such claims, by visiting the Department of Labor & Industries website: http://www.lni.wa.gov/ClaimsIns/Claims/File/3rdParty/default.asp
If you are injured on the job and suspect that you have a third party claim, contact one of the attorneys at GLP to discuss your rights and options. Our attorneys have successfully handled such claims throughout Washington State.