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 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.