Construction sites have a number of dangerous conditions that can result in serious, catastrophic injuries or even death. If you are hurt on the job at a construction site, you might assume that workers' compensation is your only recourse. However, many people harmed at construction sites have a viable personal injury claim as well. A personal injury lawsuit can be filed under many legal theories, depending on why you were at the construction site and the cause of your injuries. If you have been involved in a construction accident, the Detroit work injury attorneys at Feldheim & Wilenkin can help you explore your options for compensation.Construction Accidents in Michigan
Workers' compensation benefits generally include a statutory wage loss benefit and payment of medical bills. The workers' compensation system will not allow you to recover money damages for pain and suffering and other intangible damages. However, when construction accidents are the fault of someone other than your employer, the law allows a claim to be filed against the negligent parties that caused the accident.
When this happens, you may be able to hold a property owner or other third party responsible in a civil lawsuit. Contractors and subcontractors have a duty to keep the construction site reasonably safe. This may include warning about hazards and making sure safety regulations like OSHA are followed. Breaches of these duties that harm someone other than a company’s own employee may result in civil liability for negligence. However, although you have two potential ways to recover compensation, you are not entitled to have double the recovery. The workers' compensation provider may assert a lien against your recovery in a civil lawsuit, and the amount you would need to pay back to the insurer is set according to a formula. There is no obligation to pay back a comp carrier unless you make a recovery in the civil lawsuit.
In general, a principal contractor does not have liability for an independent contractors' negligent or intentional misconduct. However, there are exceptions that may allow you to sue a principal or general contractor in civil court. The most commonly used exception is the common work area doctrine. Under the common work area doctrine, a victim can collect compensation for injuries suffered due to a dangerous hazard in a work area that is shared by several trades workers, rather than exclusive to one type of trade worker.
In order to sue a general contractor for injuries you suffer in a common work area, you will need to establish:
- A general contractor that had supervisory and coordinating authority over the site where you were injured,
- A common work area shared by employees of more than one subcontractor, and
- A danger in the common work area that could be observed and avoided, and that created a high risk of injury for many workers.
In order for the second element to be met, it is not necessary that other subcontractors actually be working in the area. Instead, two or more subcontractors must be scheduled to eventually work there.
Courts focus on whether the general contractor or principal acted reasonably in providing workers with the right safety devices or training to avoid the dangers of the construction site. Courts also permit recovery where machinery is not properly maintained or operated with resulting injury to a worker. However, an injured worker can’t bring claim against his own employer for such negligence.
In some cases, safety devices or other equipment cause harm. Manufacturers are required to design and manufacture safe equipment and provide adequate instructions and warnings. A designer or manufacturer can be held liable in a product liability lawsuit for defective equipment.Enlist a Detroit Attorney after Suffering a Work Injury
Our firm has decades of experience, and we have built a practice with a reputation for results. At Feldheim & Wilenkin, our Detroit work injury lawyers represent injured employees in pursuing compensation through the legal process. Our accident lawyers also represent people in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties as well as throughout the state of Michigan. Call us at 248.737.0700 or contact us via our online form to set up a free consultation.