The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that 1 in 10 construction site workers are injured every year, totaling over 150,000 annual incidents. The majority of these construction accidents and injuries are the result of falls and contact with equipment.
Many Possible Negligent Parties on Construction Sites
As anyone familiar with heavy industrial workplaces can tell you, there is often more than one contractor or sub-contractor present on the job site at the same time. As a result, you are often at risk for injury due to the negligence of these third parties.
Think about all of the tools, equipment, scaffolding and materials on a job site that do not belong to your employer, not to mention other workers. It is not hard to imagine someone failing to properly build scaffolding that may fall, incorrectly stacking materials, or properly using equipment or flat just running someone over in the parking lot or equipment yard.
Employers Protected from Liability
When these types of situations lead to an injuries in New Mexico, employers are protected from personal injury lawsuits by the exclusivity provision of the Worker’s Compensation Act. However, there is nothing that will prevent you from recovering for your personal injuries against these third parties who are responsible or partly responsible for your injuries
Under the Worker’s Compensation Act, workers injured on the job can only seek damages through the workers’ compensation system which limits the amount of your recovery to a percentage of your wages. In cases of serious personal injury, this may be grossly inadequate to compensate a worker for his or her injuries.
However, if someone other than your employer or co-worker causes your injury, you can seek personal injury damages against the responsible party. In some cases, there may even be more than one responsible party.
Responsibility of Non-Employer Parties
In New Mexico, an injured worker may bring a lawsuit against all of the responsible parties. In those cases, the injured worker makes his or her case alleging liability against all of the responsible parties. Then those parties must put on their own evidence attempting to show that another party caused your injury. In other words, many times they will start directing blame at one another. This is not uncommon and may actually increase your chances of recovery due to since there may be several responsible parties.
Construction and other heavy manufacturing injuries are often more severe than other workplace injuries. The majority of construction injuries occur to the spine, back or trunk area of the body. In personal injury cases, the intent is to return the injured worker to his or her pre-injury status. In other words, the injured worker is due compensatory damages to make up for the losses he or she sustained from the injury.
These compensatory damages include lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. As you might imagine, with a more serious the injury, the injured worker is due larger damages. In a construction or heavy manufacturing scenario, the chances of a severe injury are greater, simply due to the nature of the work and job sites, naturally leading to generally larger damages and recoveries where there is third party responsibility.
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In fact, you may be entitled to damages if the other party or parties are only partially responsible for your injury. New Mexico is a comparative negligence state, which means that the injured worker’s damages may be reduced by the percentage of his or her own negligence. The degree of any comparative negligence is an issue determined by the jury. However, our attorneys will evaluate the circumstances of your case on a continuing basis as discovery progresses. Even if the worker is found 25% responsible for your injury, he or she is still entitled to a 75% recovery, which can still be substantial in cases of serious injury or wrongful death.