When the proper safety precautions are not taken, a modern construction site can be a very dangerous place. According to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction workers account for approximately 20 percent of workplace fatalities nationwide—a highly disproportionate number.
Construction often involves many parties—from contractors and subcontractors to developers and property owners. Construction workers always have the right to hold any negligent party other than their own employer liable through a personal injury claim. Here, our Syracuse construction accident attorneys explain the key things to know about third party liability claims in New York.
What is a Third Party Liability Claim? (Construction Worker Injury)
A third-party liability claim is a legal action that is brought against a party other than the employer of the injured worker. The third party (defendant) is alleged to be responsible for the worker’s injuries. In the context of construction accidents, third-party liability claims can be brought against a wide range of parties. As construction sites in Syracuse are often part of complex projects, there are often many different companies working on the premises.
An Overview of Third Parties that May Bear Liability for a Construction Accident
What third parties might you have a claim against as a construction worker who was injured in an accident in Syracuse? It depends on a wide array of different factors, including how and why your construction accident occurred. Some examples of third parties that may bear fault include:
- Manufacturers of defective equipment or machinery;
- Contractors or subcontractors working on the job site;
- Architects or engineers who designed the job site;
- Property owners who failed to maintain the job site; and
- Other companies or individuals who played a role in the accident.
You Must Prove Fault in a Construction Accident Third Party Liability Claim
In New York, a workers’ compensation claim is a no-fault claim. A construction worker who was hurt on the job can generally file for workers’ comp benefits regardless of whether or not any other party bears fault for their accident. In contrast, a third party claim is a fault-based legal case. To succeed in a third-party liability claim, the injured construction worker must prove that the third party (defendant) was at fault for the accident.
In some cases, third party liability claims are based on negligence. However, in other cases, an injured construction worker may have a strict liability claim. For example, if a general contractor violated N.Y. Lab. Law § 240 (New York Scaffold Law) and if a construction worker suffered a falling object injury, that third party general contractor may be legally liable for the full extent of the injured worker’s damages through a third party liability claim.
What Compensation Can Be Recovered in a Third Party Liability Claim?
Through a third party liability claim, injured construction workers in New York have the right to seek compensation for economic and intangible losses. Unfortunately, construction companies and their insurance carriers fight to pay out as little as possible in these cases. Our Syracuse construction accident lawyers fight to help our clients maximize compensation, including for:
- Emergency medical treatment;
- Medical bills and other health care costs;
- Long-term rehabilitation;
- Lost wages and loss of earning power;
- Pain and suffering & mental anguish;
- Permanent disability or disfigurement; and
- Wrongful death.
Injured Construction Workers Can Still File for Workers’ Comp Benefits
It is important to emphasize that injured construction workers can still file for workers’ comp benefits even if they bring a third-party liability claim. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means that injured workers can receive benefits regardless of whether their employer was at fault for the accident. However, the worker is not allowed to sue their employer for their injury, and the benefits provided by workers’ comp are usually lower than what can be recovered in a third-party liability claim. Workers can also file both types of claims simultaneously, but they have to prove that the third party was negligent and caused the accident and the employer is not at fault.
Speak to Our Syracuse Construction Accident Attorney Today
At Powers & Santola, LLP, our Syracuse construction accident lawyers have the skills and experience to handle the full spectrum of third party liability cases. If you or your family member was harmed by a negligent contractor, property developer, equipment manufacturer, or any other third party, we can help. Contact us now for your free case review. With a legal office in Syracuse, we handle construction accident claims in Onondaga County and throughout the wider region.