Today we are going to be talking about construction accidents and what to do if you’re injured in this type of accident. My guest is attorney Gregg Anderson, and he’s going to talk with us about some of the complex legal issues that often come in to play. Gregg, thanks for being here today.
Gregg Anderson: Thanks for having me.
Dei Lynam: Gregg, if someone is seriously injured while working at a construction site, who can be held liable?
Gregg Anderson: Well typically, there a lot of different parties that could be liable and the usual construction situation; there’s a premise owner. The premise owner often will hire a general contractor to oversee the entire project and then the general contractor typically will hire subcontractors to actually do the work. So in the situation of a home construction for instance there’ll be framers, electricians, plumbers, the cement people etc etc; So each of those or all of those folks could be responsible for any particular injury or incident.
Dei Lynam: And does worker’s compensation cover an injury that happens on a construction site?
Gregg Anderson: Well, it certainly can. Of course worker’s compensation only applies to the employer of the injured person in most situations. So for instance if a injured worker works for a plumbing contractor and the plumbing contractor has worker’s compensation insurance in place, the injured worker is entitled to workers compensation benefits through the employer’s policy but he or she cannot sue his employer. Now, he or she can then sue one of the other subcontractors- the general contractor or the premise owner. There are some exceptions to that where certain types of policies will deem everybody to be someone’s employer but in the typical situation it’s only the actual employer who has a bar to a negligence claim by the employee.
Dei Lynam: And what if the construction site accident is partially my fault, how does that affect my claim?
Gregg Anderson: Well, Texas is a comparative law state and what that means is if a case is tried to a jury, the jury will be asked to assess not only the defendant’s conduct but also the conduct of the injured person. So if the jury determines that the injured person was partly at fault for causing his or her own injuries, then the jury will be asked to assess a percentage of responsibility and whatever percentage of responsibility they determine to be the fault of the injured worker, then that will be assessed against the damages awarded and reduce the damages by that percentage.
Dei Lynam: What if a self-employed contractor is seriously injured and his injuries are related to a defective piece of equipment, what step should he take?
Gregg Anderson: Well, that’s the one scenario we haven’t discussed so if a defective piece of equipment- let’s say a backhoe, a forklift, or any type of equipment malfunctions and causes an injury, then the injured person will have a potential claim against the manufacturer of the equipment if there were some design defect in it or wasn’t manufactured properly, or adequate warnings weren’t supplied. In addition to that, a lot of times equipment is leased on a construction site from a company that keeps and maintains the equipment. If that company failed to properly maintain it even though there was nothing inherently defective about it, there could be a claim against the company for failure to properly maintain the equipment in safe condition.
Dei Lynam: Gregg, this is great information. Thank you for your time today.
Gregg Anderson: Thank you.
Dei Lynam: Until Next time, this is Dei Lynam for Texas Law TV.
For more information about construction accidents please visit our website at https://www.terrybryant.com/workers-compensation/construction-worker-injury.