Construction sites are notoriously dangerous places, with potential hazards always lying in wait. Every year, construction workers suffer serious injuries requiring extensive medical treatment and sometimes causing temporary or even permanent disability. While those injured are generally entitled to workers’ compensation from their employers’ coverage, it may be that a third party bears substantial responsibility for the accident. If so, that party may be sued for money damages in excess of what workers’ comp will cover.

As in other states, Indiana has a no-fault workers’ compensation system, so that benefits can be paid no matter who was to blame for the accident or condition that led to the injury. Workers’ comp reimburses victims for their medical and rehabilitation expenses and partial lost wages. However, workers' comp benefits do not cover the victim’s pain and suffering or other noneconomic damages.

Construction sites are typically occupied by multiple workers employed by different contractors. An accident caused by any one of them can cause harm to a worker employed by someone else. In such an incident, the victim may be able to pursue additional compensation through a third-party personal injury lawsuit. Parties that bear liability could include the following:

  • Another contractor’s employee acting negligently in performing their job
  • Manufacturers of defective tools, scaffolding or machinery used on the site
  • A subcontractor that created a dangerous condition on the site
  • Truckers making deliveries to or hauling from the site
  • Property owners that failed to repair a dangerous condition of which they were aware

As one scenario, the driver of a delivery vehicle backs into a site and causes an object or structure to fall on a worker who is the employee of the site’s general contractor. The worker would be able to file a workers’ comp claim and could sue the driver and vehicle owner for additional damages.

If you are injured in a construction accident in Indiana and are pursuing both a workers’ comp claim and a third-party lawsuit, the litigation can be complicated. An employer’s workers’ compensation carrier files a notice of lien in the lawsuit to ensure it will be reimbursed for benefits already paid. The jury in the lawsuit can consider those reimbursable benefits in awarding damages. In some cases, the carrier will intervene in the lawsuit to protect the amount of its lien. In any case, a settlement of the third-party case requires the express consent of the employer or its carrier. Lastly, a third-party settlement can terminate further workers’ comp benefits.

The Cooke Law Firm in Lafayette has successfully handled compensation claims in behalf of injured construction workers in Indiana, including third-party litigation. If you would like to discuss your claim, please call 765-423-5628 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.