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Third-party liability for a construction site accident (Part 1)

In the wake of a story about a New York construction worker who died in a recent collapse, we'll be taking a look at third party liability for injuries on construction sites. Before we do, however, we need to emphasize two points.

One, as always, is that the information presented here in not intended as specific legal advice, only as general information. Two is that workers' compensation is a no-fault system, which is to say that benefits aren't dependent upon a finding of liability -- you can collect workers' compensation even if no one was liable for your injuries. But third-party liability can open up additional avenues for compensation in cases of construction injuries.

What do we mean by third-party liability? Think about all the different parties active on a construction site. Although the designers, and engineers, managers, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and so on may be retained by a general contractor, each will have some degree of control over both the work site and the actual work being done. Those degrees of control are important factors in determining whether a third party bears any liability for your injuries (and if so, how much).

Unlike a workers' compensation claim, seeking compensation from a third party on a construction site means filing a lawsuit. This requires a thorough knowledge of the nature of the third party or parties, the applicable regulations at the construction site, and a host of other legal technicalities with which a legal professional can provide crucial support. We'll look next week at some of the different third parties who may bear liability in a construction site accident.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Construction Injury Overview," accessed on April 24, 2015

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