It really is no surprise that construction work is consistently among the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA) most dangerous industries in America. With so many inherent dangers around the average construction site, construction accidents are frustratingly common, including those that cause severe injuries and fatalities. Do the seemingly inherent dangers of construction work mean that construction workers are provided workers’ compensation by default?
The answer varies among states, but here in Pennsylvania, the answer is no. Regardless of the apparent and numerous hazards around a construction site, Pennsylvania employers are under no automatic obligation to provide workers’ compensation to the crews working there. This workaround is possible due to independent contractor laws in the state.
Pennsylvania Independent Contractor Rules
Pennsylvania does not require employers to purchase any sort of workers’ compensation policy that covers independent contractors working for them. Such coverage is only owed to workers who are officially classified as employees. If you have worked construction in Pennsylvania for some time, then you are probably already aware that many people on a typical jobsite are not there as official employees, but instead as contractors.
Many construction companies and firms have become notorious for finding any method they can use to avoid hiring someone as an employee. For example, some companies will divide a construction project into numerous parts based on the work that needs to be done, like adding electrical wiring or plumbing. Each part is contracted to a specialist like an electrician or a plumber to complete. While this system can keep a project moving on schedule, it also means that the majority of people who lift a tool on a construction site are not employees and, therefore, have no workers’ compensation coverage provided through that construction company.
No Coverage Means More Lawsuits
Although employers do not have to purchase workers’ compensation coverage for independent contractors, you will find that some still do, especially those in the construction industry. By purchasing workers’ compensation that covers independent contractors working on their site, a construction company effectively shields itself from civil claims and lawsuits after a construction accident occurs. A general rule in any employment contract is that an employer is excused from liability in most accidents as long as the injured worker has a chance to recover benefits through a no-fault workers’ compensation system.
If you were hurt while working for a construction company that did not provide workers’ compensation coverage, then you need to start thinking about how to file a claim against them for your injuries. The trouble in this situation is that a civil claim is a fault-based system, so your chances of recovering compensation will be worsened the more liable you are for your own on-the-job injuries. In Pennsylvania, a claimant or plaintiff cannot seek damages at all if they are at least 51% liable for the accident.
Legal Help Following a Construction Accident
The nuances to Pennsylvania’s personal injury, workplace injury, and workers’ compensation laws all add up to a fairly confusing situation for anyone who is not well-versed in legalese. To save yourself the trouble of dealing with legal complexities and insurance company challenges, it is highly advised you work with a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible after experiencing a construction site accident. Metzger Wickersham is the name that so many people already trust across the state, so why not reach out to us first when you need legal help? Call (888) 286-2850 or contact us online today.