Everyone on a construction site has the right to a safe working environment, including subcontractors. When an independent subcontractor gets physically harmed while working on a construction site, they can typically sue either the contractor or the coworker who caused the injury.
Your ability to sue for personal injury as a subcontractor depends on the facts and circumstances of your particular case. You will need to determine what caused your accident and whether your employer, other workers or vendors contributed to an unsafe working environment. Additionally, if there’s a workers’ compensation policy in place, your ability to successfully argue for damages in a lawsuit may be limited.
When Can a Subcontractor Sue for Personal Injury?
You can sue for personal injury any time you’re injured on a construction site. Even if you weren’t directly injured by another person on the job site, you may be able to show negligence on the part of the general contractor or coworker who caused you harm.
You may think you can only make a claim for personal injury for major accidents, like broken bones or burns, but even small injuries can cause you to miss work and lose income. Injuries like sprains and strains can lead to complications that have a long-term impact on your ability to work.
Common claims for personal injury include:
- Fractures and broken bones
- Sprains, strains, and tears
- Cuts, lacerations, and punctures
- Burns and electrocutions
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Eye injuries
As long as there’s no barrier from workers’ compensation to suing for personal injury, you can bring a claim for almost any injury.
What Happens If There’s Workers’ Comp?
Your ability to successfully file a lawsuit for personal injury depends on if there’s workers’ compensation insurance involved. Since Texas doesn’t require workers’ compensation insurance, this may not always be apparent.
The general contractor could have workers’ comp that extends to subcontractors, or they may not have any. If you’re injured by another person working on the job who isn’t a coworker, certain workers’ comp plans may consider them a coworker for the purposes of the policy. On the other hand, if your injury was caused by someone who isn’t your employer or coworker (meaning no workers’ comp claim) you shouldn’t have any restrictions on filing a lawsuit.
If you are covered under a general contractor’s workers’ compensation plan, you can still sue for damages above what is available to you under their policy. However, the general contractor will have more defenses at their disposal to disprove or devalue your claim. For instance, they may be able to argue that you were at least partially liable for your injuries, thus eliminating or reducing their responsibility to pay for your injury.
In any case, it’s important to analyze any workers’ compensation policy that may impact your ability to recover damages. A construction site accident lawyer can help you review any existing workers’ comp policy and let you know your options for suing for personal injury. The sooner you know if a policy exists and how it affects your claim, the better.
Is There a Statute of Limitations on Filing a Claim?
There is a time limit in Texas on when you can file your personal injury lawsuit. The state has a two-year statute of limitations. That means you have two years from the date the injury occurred to file a lawsuit, unless the injury results in death. In that case, it’s two years from the date of death.
Failing to file a claim within that two-year period may mean your claim is invalid and you’ll have no right to recover damages.
What Type of Damages Can I Receive?
If you do bring a successful personal injury case, you’ll likely be awarded some type of damages. What type and how much depend on your specific injury and how it impacted your life. Typical damages in a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Reimbursement for medical bills
- Lost income and benefits, including loss of future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Impact on your quality of life
- Compensation for loss of earning potential
To have the best chance at recovering the most damages, it’s important to consult with a construction accident injury lawyer. They can review your case and financial expenditures to give you a realistic idea of what damages you’d be awarded in a lawsuit.
What You Should Do After a Construction Accident
It can be overwhelming to be injured in a construction site accident, and you may not know what to do next. If you’re a subcontractor injured on a construction site, there a few things we recommend that you do immediately after an injury:
- Get needed medical care. The most important thing you can do following an accident is to get medical attention. Be sure to keep a copy of your receipts and any documentation from the physician.
- Make a report. Let the general contractor know what happened or notify the property manager so there’s a written record of the incident.
- Document the incident. Take pictures, record videos, and get the contact information for anyone who may have witnessed the injury.
- Consult a construction accident injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can help make sure you have all the needed documentation and investigate the facts of your claim before you file a lawsuit.
Schedule a Free Consultation with FVF
As a subcontractor, you’re just as likely to get injured on a construction site as anyone else. You also have the right to have your coworkers and other subcontractors abide by the same safety procedures as you. If this doesn’t happen and you get injured, you do have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Our team of experienced Texas construction site accident lawyers can help you determine whether you can file a lawsuit and what damages you may be able to recover. Contact us for a free consultation today.