Stephen Hasner | Workers' Compensation | September 28, 2018
In recent years, Savannah has experienced a boom in construction throughout the city. In 2016, the city issued building permits for projects that totaled $574 million, a 40 percent increase from the previous year. This significant increase in construction projects is a continuation of growth that began before the nationwide recession. Construction investments climbed to $313 million in 2008 but decreased 45 percent by the end of 2009.
Recent development has included hotel renovations, the construction of new apartment complexes, and cottages geared toward tourists. The expansion of local construction is a good thing; the bad news is when construction employers ignore safety standards and an employee is injured or killed as a result. This nightmare scenario occurred in 2005, when two construction workers died after being thrown off an elevated forklift at a school construction site. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concluded that construction contractors’ violations of safety standards on the construction site caused the workers’ deaths. Fortunately, Georgia law permits injured victims to seek compensation for their injuries.
Under Georgia law, an employer can be found liable for the negligence of a contractor under specific conditions, including:
- When work, even if done in an ordinary manner, would cause a nuisance, or the work is wrongful in itself;
- If the employer had prior knowledge that would cause him or her to know that the work to be done is dangerous to others, even if carefully performed;
- If the act was wrongful, and a violation of a duty imposed on the employer under an express contract;
- If any wrongful act violated a duty imposed by statute;
- If an employer ratified any act that was unauthorized or wrong for an independent contractor.
- If any employer retained a right to control or direct the manner and time of executing the work. This includes situations when the employer assumed control or interfered in a manner that created a relationship as master and servant, or when the employer’s interference caused an injury.
Your Rights as An Injured Worker
Often, workers injured as a result of employer negligence of safety standards are entitled to benefits through Georgia’s workers’ compensation system. These benefits can include the cost of medical care, and a weekly wage replacement while the injured party is unable to work.
The problem is that these important benefits often don’t fully compensate an injured worker. Even if additional compensation is not available from an employer, if a third party contractor caused your injuries, then you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against that contractor for further compensation.
The workers’ compensation system was created to protect workers, provide them with the ability to seek compensation for their injuries from those responsible, and to avoid the need for expensive litigation. Workers are able to receive compensation almost immediately under the system.
The problem with the workers’ compensation system is that the benefits are limited. A worker can only receive two-thirds of his or her average weekly wage in wage replacement benefits. Furthermore, there is no consideration of emotional injuries, such as pain and suffering. However, if a third party contractor’s negligence contributed to an accident, that party may be found liable for your injuries and required to compensate you.
For example, if you worked on a landscaping crew at a construction site that employs numerous subcontractors, other subcontractors can be found liable for any injuries that you sustain while at work. Imagine you are struck by equipment that a subcontractor was responsible for and did not secure, and you sustained severe head injuries as a result. Under this scenario, not only are you entitled to Georgia workers’ compensation benefits, but also you could sue the subcontractor for additional compensation.
Injuries sustained on construction sites as a result of safety violations can be severe, and may include broken bones, lacerations, concussions, and more. You also may incur expensive medical bills, lost wages, and personal suffering.
For more information, reach out to one of our convenient locations nearest you for assistance.
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