When can an Injured Construction Worker File a Third-Party Claim?
If you become injured while working on a construction site, you rely on Workers’ Compensation to help pay your bills. The problem is although it will help cover some of the economic expenses you have encountered, it will not recoup your emotional loss, nor will it make up for any other impact that may result from your accident.
Although you cannot file a claim against your company, you do have the option to go after any third party that could be responsible for your accident. These can be complicated cases and can be helped along when you bring in a lawyer experienced in construction accidents.
What are the Drawbacks of Workers’ Compensation?
After you become injured working on a construction site, Workers’ Compensation should reimburse you for your medical expenses. You will have to go to the doctors that your company’s insurance requests and make sure to keep all your records and bills for your claim. Workers’ Compensation will also reimburse you for lost wages you may have experienced because you had to miss work while you were recuperating.
Although it is great to have a safety net when it comes to these expenses, there are certain trade-offs. Workers’ Compensation will reimburse your lost wages; however, it will only pay a fraction of your salary. In addition, there are other expenses and emotional trauma that you experience from an accident for which Workers’ Compensation will not reimburse you, and you cannot file a claim against your company, as that is the trade-off to receiving Workers’ Compensation.
That means if your injury prevents you from handling chores around the house to the point at which you must hire someone to do them for you, those expenses will be coming out of your own pocket. Workers’ Compensation will not pay for your pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, nor loss of consortium.
What is a Third-Party Injury Claim?
A third-party claim is one that is brought against another entity that bears all or a portion of the responsibility for the circumstances that caused your accident. It can be an individual or a business, so long as there can be a direct connection to their actions leading to your accident.
There are several entities that could be held liable as third parties in your accident. They include:
- Property owner: This person could be responsible for maintaining the work environment where you company is operating, including a private residence. They could be responsible for an accident if they fail to keep it clean and safe.
- Manufacturer: You could have become injured while operating a machine at work or the safety equipment you were using failed. Even though your company might have failed to inspect the equipment, you can file a claim against the individuals who manufactured it.
- Driver: Not all accidents occur while you are on a site. You could be transporting materials to a site and be hit by another vehicle that causes your injuries. Although this is still a work-related accident, you can file a claim against the other driver for damages.
- Subcontractor: Before you begin work at a site, your employer may hire another company to install equipment or bring certain machines onto the site. They might not properly install that equipment, which cause lead to your accident, making them liable.
You can file a claim against a third party as you are still working through your Workers’ Compensation, although depending on the amount you receive through your third-party claim, you may be required to return some of the money you collected from Workers’ Compensation.
When you file a claim against a third party, your lawyer will have to demonstrate how their actions caused your injures. To win the case, the lawyer will have to prove that:
- You had a work-related accident.
- The third party owed you a duty of care.
- The third party failed in their duty of care.
- Your suffered verifiable injuries as a direct result.
It is important that you speak with a lawyer soon after your accident so that you can understand your legal options in seeking compensation beyond Workers’ Compensation.
What Should I Do after My Accident?
If you have experienced an accident at the construction site where you are working, there are several steps that you should take to protect yourself and leave the option available to you if you chose to file a third-party claim in the future:
- Call emergency services: If you have been injured in an accident, you should seek medical treatment right away. Even if you do not believe you sustained any injuries, you should have yourself checked out by a doctor.
- Document the scene: Once you are able, take notes about what took place at the scene of the accident. Note the conditions that existed that contributed to your accident as well as the circumstances that led to it.
- Speak to witnesses: In addition to documenting the case, you should also speak with anyone who witnessed the accident who can verify your recollection. Make sure you get their names and contact information in case your lawyer needs to get in touch with them later.
- Report the accident: After an injury occurs, you must report it to your supervisor. This is a necessary step, particularly if you plan to collect Workers’ Compensation. If you are taken to the hospital immediately after your injury, report the accident or have a trusted co-worker do it as soon as possible.
You will need to decide soon after your accident if you intend to file a third-party claim. The statute of limitations for such a claim in New Jersey is two years from the day of the accident. Although it may seem like a large window, that time can go quickly, so you should speak with a construction accident lawyer right away to determine if it makes sense for you to move forward on a third-party claim.
South River Construction Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Take on Your Fight in Your Third-Party Liability Claim
Workers’ Compensation is a great benefit for workers who are injured on a construction site. Unfortunately, it will only provide so much for you and your family. You might find other expenses piling up because of your injury. Filing a third-party liability claim can help fill that gap. The South River construction accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr can help determine if you have such a case and help you with it. We will fight to see that you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-537-8570 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.