If you were injured in a construction accident in Washington, you may have the right to compensation for medical bills, loss of wages, and other suffering caused by the injury. Specifically, you may be able to file a compensation claim against the property owner/developer, a general contractor, or another worksite employer. According to Washington State law, all employers at a construction site are responsible for workers' safety. Making a claim, known as a third-party claim, against the worksite employer can result not only in compensation for your injury, but also benefits you may be entitled to through the Department of Labor and Industries.
Responsibility for construction accidents in Washington
The property owner/developer, the general contractor, and each subcontractor on the job may be held responsible for construction site safety. However, this applies only to the degree that the owner/contractor either created the dangerous circumstance or had some degree of control over the circumstance, action, or equipment that caused the injury.
In Washington State, the general contractor has the ultimate responsibility for worksite safety. The general contractor has the greatest opportunity and ability to make sure safety regulations are followed, and is also in the best position to coordinate work and provide safety equipment to protect workers.
Each subcontractor/employer on the site also has a responsibility to make sure the work site is safe. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to consider the general contractor or other subcontractors the responsible party. It's important to know that your own employer is generally immune from claims due to the Workers' Compensation Act.
Washington State law provides for proportional shares of fault for damages when injured workers are partially at fault for their own injuries. If you did something that may have caused your injury, you may not be able to claim that the employer was completely at fault. Determining the appropriate division of fault can be difficult, especially in cases where worker production is more important to the general contractor and/or other employers than worker safety. The general contractor and controlling employers should take responsibility for creating a worksite environment that conveys the message that safety is first priority.
When to file a construction accident claim
If you want compensation for all damages suffered from the injury, including pain (mental and physical), suffering, disability, disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life, it will only be possible by pursuing a lawsuit in court. It's advisable to hire an attorney to help you pursue the claim. Third-party claims are generally complex and must be coordinated with the Department of Labor and Industries. If you want to file for general workers' compensation benefits as well, you should contact the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (http://www.lni.wa.gov/).
What a construction accident lawsuit may cost
Hiring a personal injury attorney will help you make a strong claim for your case and ensure that you get as much payment as you are entitled to. If you decide to hire an attorney, some will work on a contingency fee. This means that the attorney only gets paid when and if you are awarded money once the case is closed. The attorney is also motivated to do everything possible to get you the maximum possible amount.
Washington Department of Labor and Industries (http://www.lni.wa.gov/)
Related Legal Guides:
Workplace Injuries (https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/workplace-injuries)