Industrial Accidents - What Should You Do?

Patrick C. Barry

The workplace can be a place of great danger. Assembly lines, shop floors, warehouses and construction sites all present certain risks of personal injury, or even death. But what if such an event is caused not by inherent risks in such activity, but by the carelessness or inattention of others on or in charge of the industrial site?

Most workers in such places know their basic right to compensation under a state’s “workers’ compensation” system, such as the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Workers’ Compensation portal. Such payments replace short-term lost income and pay basic medical bills, but simply are not designed to provide full compensation. Workers’ Comp instead offers a trade-off of guaranteed – but lower – payments, by prohibiting any other claim or lawsuits against the worker’s actual employer.

In most industrial accidents, however, more parties than just the direct employer are involved. For example, the manufacturer or supplier of a machine that caused injury to a shop’s employee may have liability to that person. Likewise, the general contractor and/or development company at a major construction site may be required to maintain a safe worksite, even if the workers are subcontracted to a different employer altogether. In addition, the scope of such claims is much larger, as they are not limited to simple loss-of-income or minimal medical payments. Oftentimes, additional monetary damages like permanent disability, pain and suffering, and scarring may be obtained from these other entities.

These other legal claims – which are entirely separate from the Worker’s Comp system – are called “Third Party Claims” and often arise as a result of an industrial accident. The injured worker must know and be aware of certain things to do immediately after an incident. First, that person should call a lawyer; even if limited to “Comp” payments, a lawyer can help to better navigate the process.

In addition, an injured worker should give some consideration to the precise facts of what happened. Do other companies and people have access to the site? Did any other group supply machinery, equipment, safety gear, vehicles, or anything else that was involved in the injury? Who owns the property itself, and what is their involvement in the activities that took place? These are all important questions that may help establish that a third party might share some responsibility.

The lawyers at Decof, Barry, Mega & Quinn, P.C. have years of experience addressing such third-party claims. We can also coordinate with appropriate workers’ compensation lawyers to maximize the available benefits. If you or a loved one has been injured in an industrial accident, you should contact us. We can help by investigating and pursuing the full scope of the reasons and legal responsibility for the incident.