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Frequently Asked Questions About Workplace Accidents

I was injured in a workplace accident; can I sue?

If you were injured at work, then you probably have the right to collect workers’ compensation benefits, but you may not be able to file a lawsuit. The unique circumstances of each case determine whether an injured employee may file a lawsuit. Illinois and Wisconsin laws generally do not allow an injured worker to sue his or her employer for injuries that occur on the job; however, the employee may still be able to file a third-party claim.

What is a third-party claim?

A third-party claim is a personal injury lawsuit that a worker files against a party other than the worker’s employer or co-employee. In construction site accidents, third-party claims are common because other parties besides the employer may have caused or contributed to a job site accident. Common parties named in third-party lawsuits include subcontractors, general contractors, property owners and tool manufacturers.

Third-party lawsuits also commonly result from industrial accidents. For instance, contractors often visit plants to clean industrial equipment or deliver chemicals, parts or supplies. Contractors do not have an employer-employee relationship with the plant owner and may be able to sue, depending on the circumstances of each case.

What are some common types of construction site accidents?

Construction injuries and deaths are commonly caused by:

  • Falls from heights
  • Scaffolding accidents
  • Falling objects
  • Unsafe/unsecure trenches
  • Unsafe equipment, including defective or poorly maintained tools
  • Job site vehicles, including dump trucks, hoes, shovels, cranes and excavators

What happens when a defective tool or malfunctioning equipment causes my industrial accident?

A. When defective tools, equipment or vehicles cause a workplace injury, there is the potential for a third-party claim. If the equipment caused injury because of a product defect, the injured worker may be able to hold the manufacturer, distributor or seller liable. If the involved equipment was being rented, the company offering the equipment for rent may be potentially liable, too.

In plants and factories, contracting companies often come into service and repair complex industrial equipment. If a service company negligently maintained or repaired equipment — causing a worker injury or death — it may be a defendant in a resulting lawsuit.

What damages can I recover in a construction injury lawsuit?

A. If an injured worker is able to successfully bring a personal injury claim outside of a workers’ compensation claim, then he or she may seek to recover various types of damages. Each case is unique, but common compensatory damages include medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, resulting disability or disfigurement. Spouses may have claims, too, for loss of consortium.

When an industrial or construction accident causes a death, surviving family members may have the opportunity to recover financial damages in a wrongful death claim.

How does an attorney help with a third-party claim?

A. Third-party claims are often worth much more money than workers’ compensation claims. An experienced personal injury attorney recognizes opportunities for third-party claims and will conduct a diligent investigation to reveal at-fault parties that the victim may be able to sue to recover damages. An experienced personal injury attorney will also make sure you are fully and fairly compensated for your injuries.

Also, at the end of a successful third-party claim, a workers’ compensation insurer who paid you benefits may have a lien on your case that must be paid. Most reputable personal injury attorneys will negotiate this lien on your behalf.

How can I afford a workplace accident attorney?

A. Most reputable construction accident attorneys bill on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you owe them nothing unless and until they recover money for you — if you don’t win, you don’t pay. If you recover money, the attorney’s fee is a share of the proceeds.

Will I have to pay a fee to have an attorney at Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. review my case?

A. No, rest assured that there is never a fee to have the circumstances of your case reviewed by one of our experienced attorneys.

What is the best way to contact a lawyer at Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C.?

A. You can contact an attorney through our online form to set up a free consultation. If you prefer to call, our toll free number is 877-216-4213. We serve clients throughout Chicago and all of Illinois.