CONSTRUCTION WORKERS’ ACCIDENTS AND THIRD-PARTY LAWSUITS
July 2, 2018
The employers of construction workers in Illinois may not always inform employees of all their rights. They might not realize that workers compensation benefits are not their only option for financial relief after construction workers’ accidents. Even if injured victims file workers’ comp claims, they might have grounds to also file civil lawsuits against third parties like manufacturers of defective equipment or negligent employees of other companies.
Although the findings of Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators will play a role in court, it will not determine the outcome of a civil claim. An employer might create the impression that an injured employee who was partially to blame for an injury would not be able to file a lawsuit; however, that might not be true. The viability of a suit will depend on whether the state follows the comparative or contributory negligence doctrine. With the variety of entities involved in construction projects, the number of potential defendants is endless.
While workers’ compensation benefits cover medical expenses and lost wages, along with rehabilitation benefits in some cases, a successful third-party lawsuit will cover damages that are not covered by insurance. Workers’ compensation typically prohibits lawsuits against employers — except in cases involving gross negligence. If a civil lawsuit is successful, the employer or insurer might seek to recover workers’ compensation costs through a subrogation lien; however, it will likely not affect the amount the injured worker receives.
Many factors will determine whether victims of construction workers’ accidents have grounds to file third-party claims in addition to insurance benefits claims. An experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney can assess the circumstances and determine the viability of a civil claim. The lawyer can explain the employee rights and provide support and guidance throughout ensuing proceedings.