Construction sites are known to be inherently dangerous, and unfortunately, accidents can and do occur despite strict safety measures. When a construction worker sustains injuries on the job, they may be entitled to compensation through workers’ compensation benefits. However, in some instances, third parties may also be held liable for construction accidents in Texas.
This article explores the concept of third-party construction accident lawsuits in Texas, shedding light on the legal options available to injured workers.
Workers’ Compensation and its Limitations
Most employers on large construction sites carry workers’ compensation insurance, which provides medical benefits and wage replacement for injured employees. General contractors and owners often contractually require workers’ compensation coverage by subs.
Workers’ comp is a no-fault system, meaning that workers generally cannot sue their employers for workplace injuries except for families in wrongful death cases of gross negligence.
While workers’ compensation provides crucial financial support, it may not fully address the extent of the damages suffered by the injured worker. Getting a top construction accident attorney is vital early in the process.
Third-Party Liability in Construction Accidents
In addition to workers’ compensation, injured construction workers in Texas may pursue a third-party lawsuit if someone other than their employer or co-worker contributed to their accident. Third parties refer to individuals or entities not directly employed by the injured worker’s employer.
Examples of potential third-party defendants in construction accident cases may include:
a. Contractors and subcontractors: If a worker from one company is injured due to the negligence of a contractor or subcontractor from another company working on the same site, the injured worker may be able to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. Often a dispute develops over the status of a worker, employee, or independent contractor.
b. Property owners: If hazardous conditions on the property contributed to the construction accident, the property owner may be held liable.
c. Manufacturers and suppliers: If defective equipment or machinery caused the accident, the manufacturer or supplier of that equipment may be held accountable.
d. Architects and engineers: The responsible party might be liable if a design flaw or negligent architectural or engineering work led to the accident.
Establishing Liability in Third-Party Construction Accident Lawsuits
To succeed in a third-party construction accident lawsuit, the injured worker must establish the following elements:
a. Duty of care: The injured worker must demonstrate that the third party owed them a duty of care. For example, contractors owe a duty of care to workers on a construction site to maintain safe working conditions.
b. Breach of Duty: The injured worker must show that the third party breached their Duty of care through negligence or intentional actions. This could include failing to adhere to safety regulations or providing faulty equipment.
c. Causation: It must be proven that the third party’s breach of Duty was a direct cause of the worker’s injuries.
d. Damages: The injured worker must provide evidence of the damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related expenses.
Control and Third-Party Claims
Generally, trying to hold another company responsible for damages in a construction accident requires retaining some control over the work that caused the accident. The control must be related to the activity or condition which caused the accident. Control can be proven by contract and also by actions.
Examples of Control by Contractors or Subs
A worker was severely injured when scaffolding collapsed. The case settled for a substantial amount after we filed a lawsuit and took many depositions. We proved that the scaffolding was inspected and approved by the general contractor.
A worker was killed when his fall protection equipment failed after falling off a roof. We proved the general contractor retained some control over the fall safety measures and also held responsible the manufacturer of the fall protection equipment.
A man fell through installed attic steps when the ladder was not correctly installed. We held the general contractor and a sub responsible for the injuries and damages.
When digging a trench, the bucket comes off, killing a worker. After filing a lawsuit, our construction accident lawyer developed the proof of retained control by a subcontractor and collect damages from the equipment maker.
Benefits of Third-Party Construction Accident Lawsuits
Filing a third-party lawsuit in addition to receiving workers’ compensation benefits can provide several advantages:
a. Greater compensation: Third-party lawsuits can result in higher compensation than what is typically available through workers’ compensation alone. These lawsuits may include damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of earning capacity.
b. Additional parties held accountable: Workers’ compensation claims generally involve only the employer, whereas third-party lawsuits enable injured workers to hold other responsible parties accountable.
c. Increased workplace safety: Third-party lawsuits can incentivize contractors, property owners, and other parties to prioritize safety and take necessary precautions to prevent accidents in the future.
Workers’ Compensation Subrogation or Pay Back
When a third party is liable for damages from a construction site injury, workers’ comp has a right to be repaid the benefits it paid for the injuries. Still, the victim is better off as benefits are minimal for human damages like pain and suffering or mental anguish under worker’s comp.
Third-party claims are generally not limited in amounts, and juries can award what seems proper under the facts of the case. Also, in some instances, you may get credit for your attorney’s efforts in collecting the benefits to be reimbursed to workers’ comp.
Serious Injury or Wrongful Death Construction Accidents Often Require Investigations
While workers’ compensation provides important support for injured construction workers, it may not fully address their damages. Third-party construction accident lawsuits in Texas can help collect fair compensation and allow injured workers to pursue additional compensation and damages from parties other than their employer.
Talking to a leading construction site accident attorney as soon as possible is recommended.
Contact an Experienced Construction Accident Attorney in Houston
If you or a loved one are injured in a construction accident involving a third party, contact Baumgartner Law Firm for a free consultation about your rights and options. Call (281) 587-1111.
6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy,
Houston, TX, 77069
FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
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