Tennessee Construction Injury Law: Contractor Negligence
Construction sites are inherently hazardous places, with the constant transportation of heavy machinery, dangerous tools, falling equipment, inadequately trained workers, and other potentially harmful conditions. All too often, the inadequate attention to detail in safety measures by supervisors on sites result in serious or fatal injuries.
These hazards are exacerbated when considering the fact that more often than not, these sites are comprised of a strewn-together band of businesses and workers. Further, these projects are frequently completed by contractors with the help of many subcontractors, often causing a breakdown in communication regarding the necessity of safety precautions. The accomplished construction accident attorneys at InjuryTN understand that the chain of command in construction businesses might make it hard to determine liability.
Workers’ Compensation & Third-Party Litigation
The majority of laborers who become injured while working on a construction site have entitlement to receive workers’ compensation. This is usually the only solution for workers who are in need of recouping damages from their place of employment. Fortunately, employees aren’t required to prove that their employer was in the wrong to collect benefits. Actually, laborers may even be able to collect if they were at fault. Unfortunately, though, the compensation collected by way of insurance is often meager and can’t meet every expense that comes along with construction injuries.
The only exemption to an employer’s immunity is when an intentional tort exists, which means the worker was injured intentionally. Employees will be required to exhibit that their employer’s conduct would be reasonably expected to result in risking the safety of employees, that the employee was not made aware of this risk (or it was not apparent), and that the employer attempted to conceal or misrepresent the danger intentionally, which prevented the employee from making an informed decision. While this may be a possibility for your case, overcoming these specific standards is difficult to do, and very seldom are employees able to convince the court into allowing them to proceed with an intentional tort claim against an employer.
Nonetheless, third-party litigation may still be on the table when it comes to what other contractors or employers were on the site at the time. This will really be determined by the specific circumstances surrounding your case, and every claim is thoroughly examined by the courts. Usually, when facing third-party liability claims of negligence, contractors and subcontractors will claim immunity under workers’ compensation law, which often proves to be effective. However, this may not always limit a worker’s opportunity to pursue compensation.
Tennessee courts hold that subcontractors may be held liable for their employees’ negligence in the event their actions have resulted in another workers’ injury. Occasionally with cases in which the subcontractors are being held liable, it could still be worth the effort of pursuing a claim against the general contractor – the entity who is frequently has the most coverage under their insurance.
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General Contractor Negligence
General contractors on construction sites are often called the “principle,” with the subcontractors being referred to as “independent contractors.” While general contractors are typically not held liable for an independent contractor’s negligence, there are a few exemptions, including the following:
- Negligent selection, instruction, or supervision of a subcontractor
- Employing an independent contractor to complete work which would be considered inherently dangerous
- Work involving a general contractor who is not able to delegate the necessary duty of care to a separate party
Frequently, the most important aspect taken into account when making these determinations is identifying what level of control the general contractor retained during the time that the subcontractor’s negligence caused the accident. The court will then evaluate whether the subcontractor’s activities could have been recognized and/or minimized by the general contractor.
There sometimes may be strict liability when performing work which would be considered exceptionally hazardous. The plaintiffs in such cases are required to prove that even when exercising reasonable precaution, injury or harm was probable. Regardless, the general contractor may be able to provide a more robust argument against liability when a subcontractor fails to conduct themselves in strict adherence to the law (or widely accepted practice).
Even so, general contractors are typically held responsible for making sure that all work is accomplished in a safe manner by adequately trained workers from businesses with suitable monetary resources, such as workers compensation, to help victims of workplace accidents. In the event that a general contractor has failed in maintaining the integrity of this duty, even if statutory immunity would have otherwise been received, employees may be allowed to seek litigation against the general contractor.
Contact Expert Tennessee Construction Accident Attorneys
Our accomplished Tennessee contractor negligence attorneys can assist you in sorting through the entangled problems in determining liability in order to provide you with a viable way forward. For more than 25 years, the construction accident lawyers at InjuryTN have been helping individuals just like you determine their best option in maximizing compensation received for work injuries. Contact our office today to schedule your free and confidential first consultation and discuss your rights with a knowledgeable TN attorney. There are no costs or fees until we win your case.