Sometimes, a construction accident case has one clear defendant, but more often, there will be multiple defendants. Construction sites have many subcontractors, and their relationships with each other can affect how you can pursue compensation.
Fortunately, you don’t have to figure out the web of liability on your own. Our construction accident lawyers in Indianapolis, Indiana, can sort out what happened to you, find all the liable parties, and pursue compensation from all of them for your injuries and other damages.
What Happens in Workers’ Compensation Cases?
In many accidents, especially minor ones, workers’ compensation may cover some of your damages. Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault system, which means you will get paid without having to prove fault.
If this is the route you take, then the question of multiple defendants doesn’t matter. In fact, thanks to Indiana’s laws, you may be forced to take this route. Under Indiana’s exclusive remedy rules, you typically cannot sue your employer.
Unlike many other states, Indiana also extends this same requirement to coworkers. This can make it very difficult to sue someone. However, construction accident claims often have different companies working on the same job site. Therefore, if a third party injures you, you may be able to sue.
Will Workers’ Compensation Pay More If There Are Multiple Defendants?
Unfortunately not. Workers’ compensation should pay victims quickly for a reasonable amount, but in exchange, you cannot sue your employer.
Getting workers’ comp payments may also affect how much you can win in a lawsuit since you’re receiving compensation for some of your damages. Speak with our lawyers for more information.
Why Would There Be Multiple Defendants?
There is a concept in law that states that employers are responsible for what their employees do if it’s done while doing their job. Most construction accident cases will have two defendants, the person who directly harmed you and their employer.
However, because of the complex chains of contracts in most construction jobs, liability may flow to several other parties. If your case qualifies for a lawsuit, this is actually a good thing. More defendants may mean more work for your lawyer, but you’ll have a better chance of greater compensation.
Each new defendant will probably bring in a new insurance policy. Your construction accident lawyer can help you negotiate between all the parties to determine who is liable and who pays what percentage of your final compensation.
Possible Defendants in Construction Accident Cases
There are typically five categories of defendants in any construction accident case. Discovering which ones are liable is a key task of any construction accident case. These are:
Subcontractors on a site must warn others about potential dangers and follow all OSHA guidelines. If they don’t do these things and cause an accident, the company and any involved employees could become part of a lawsuit.
Depending on the contract, a general contractor may be liable for the actions of their subcontractors. Usually, that liability is passed on to the subcontractors, but if it isn’t, then the general contractor may become a defendant, assuming you don’t work for them.
If a dangerous condition of the property that the owner should have known about caused a construction accident, then the site owner could be held liable. For example, if there was a gas line on the property they knew about but didn’t tell workers about before they started digging, you could sue if the gas explosion injured you.
Manufacturers and Equipment Maintainers
If your accident was caused by defective machinery or equipment, then anyone in the chain of distribution – from the designer to the mechanic who last worked on it – could become a defendant.
Architects and engineers must create building plans that create safe structures. If we can prove that there was a fault in the design of a building that caused an accident, and it meets the standards of liability in their contracts, they could be held liable.
Splitting Liability Among Multiple Defendants
If the case involves multiple defendants, construction accident lawyers will investigate to see who was responsible for what in the accident. They will negotiate with all the parties to come to a fair settlement where each defendant pays a percentage of the total damages.
If the case ends up going to court, a judge and jury may decide what the percentage of liability is among the defendants. Lawyers must also defend claims from the defendants that you were partially responsible for the accident.
In Indiana, you can collect damages as long as you are less than 51% liable for an accident. Any more than that, and you won’t be able to obtain compensation. Every percentage point of liability you have will reduce your compensation by the same percentage, so it’s vital to have a lawyer who’ll fight to keep your liability as low as possible.
If You don’t Know Who to Sue, Contact Vaughan & Vaughan
If you’ve been hurt in a construction accident, you may not know who is responsible and if you can even sue. The accident may be so complicated that there are many parties that could share the blame. Fortunately, there’s someone you can turn to.
Our construction accident lawyers handle cases involving multiple defendants or subcontractors often. With over 100 years of combined experience, our firm has seen just about every kind of personal injury accident there is. Learn how we can help you after a construction accident by calling us now for a free consultation.