Every day, construction workers risk severe injuries while performing their jobs. In New York, workers’ compensation benefits cover salaries and medical bills for workers who sustain injuries at construction sites while operating equipment and machinery.
Although individuals receiving workers’ compensation usually forfeit the right to sue their employers, they may initiate lawsuits against employers and others under specific circumstances.
Suing an employer
The federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides employers with regulations and guidelines for maintaining and repairing construction site equipment and machinery. Although injured construction site employees can receive workers’ compensation benefits until they return to their jobs, they may also sue employers in rare circumstances. A worker must prove that an employer’s intentional misconduct, gross negligence, or criminal behavior is an OSHA violation resulting in an equipment-related injury. For example, a valid lawsuit may involve proving an employer’s knowledge of a costly equipment problem and willful refusal to correct it.
Suing an equipment manufacturer
An injured construction worker can file a product liability lawsuit against a manufacturer of defective machinery responsible for an injury. Proving a manufacturer’s liability may involve gathering documents, including design blueprints and quality inspection certificates. A third-party claim against a construction equipment manufacturer may result in pain and suffering and punitive damages, which workers’ compensation benefits do not provide.
Suing a site owner
Construction site owners must ensure safe environments for workers. Safety measures involve removing damaged or obsolete equipment and providing workers with properly functioning tools. Site owners may be liable for injury-related damages for refusing to supply construction site workers with appropriate and safe equipment.
Workers’ compensation benefits may not provide sufficient compensation for a construction worker’s injuries or death. Sometimes, lawsuits are the only option for workers and their families to get the damages they deserve.