Workers' Comp for Construction Workers: Who Covers Whom?

injured_workerConstruction sites are hazardous and bustling workplaces where contractors, subcontractors, and other crew members from a number of companies work side-by-side.

On any given day, these professionals may all be on the same construction site completing their particular aspect of an overall project:

  • Developers
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Electricians
  • Carpenters
  • Drywallers
  • Carpet layers
  • Plumbers
  • Flooring specialists
  • Roofers
  • Painters
  • Landscapers

While having contractors and subcontractors from different companies complete work at the same time ensures the project moves forward, it can also make determining liability after a workplace accident more difficult.

If you're a worker who was injured in a construction accident, you may be wondering if you're entitled to workers' compensation benefits and if so, which party's insurance is responsible for paying those benefits. Here's what you need to know.

Contractors and Subcontractors

Work on a construction site is usually overseen by a general contractor, who's tasked with providing the material, equipment, and labor for a project, as well as hiring other contractors to complete specialized tasks. The professionals hired by the general contractor may also have contractors—known as subcontractors—who work under their supervision.

Workers' Compensation Exemptions

Though Georgia requires most employers to carry workers' compensation insurance, there are a few notable exceptions. For example, employers who have fewer than three employees are exempt from workers' compensation insurance requirements, as are partners and sole proprietors, corporate officers, and LLC members.

Statutory Employers and Construction Accident Liability

General contractors often have several layers of contractors and subcontractors working on their crews. Contractors typically insist that the subcontractors under their supervision carry their own workers' compensation insurance, but some subcontractors don't live up to this expectation and allow insurance policies to lapse. So, how does this affect an injured construction worker's ability to collect workers' compensation benefits?

If a construction worker is hurt in an on-the-job accident tries to bring a workers' compensation claim against the subcontractor he works for, he may discover that the subcontractor in question lacks workers' compensation insurance. When this happens, Georgia law allows victims to go up the chain and submit their claims to the next contractor or company with insurance.

Construction workers injured by another contractor's negligence may also have grounds to bring a third-party personal injury claim against the at-fault party, which allows the victim to seek additional damages. Georgia workers' compensation benefits cover income benefits, medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and permanent partial disability benefits. Injured construction workers with third-party personal injury claims can also pursue compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, mental and emotional anguish, scarring or disfigurement, or loss of enjoyment of life.

What About Independent Contractors?

In the state of Georgia, independent contractors aren't eligible for workers' compensation benefits unless they opt to purchase a policy for themselves. However, independent contractors injured by the negligence of someone else on the job site may be able to pursue a third-party personal injury claim.

Were You Injured in a Construction Accident?

If you were involved in an on-the-job construction accident, your injuries may leave you unable to work while unexpected and astronomical medical bills fill your mailbox. Don't let a workplace accident turn your life and your finances upside down. The experienced workers' compensation attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you understand your rights and options for compensation.

Contact Rechtman & Spevak to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your construction accident case.