10202017Headline:

Seattle, Washington

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Mike Myers
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Workplace Injuries – Who Comes Under Fire?

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The Seattle Times ran a story about a construction worker injured at the Boeing Everett plant.

A man working on a construction project at the Boeing Everett plant was seriously injured in an accident Friday and taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The man worked for Penhall, a concrete-cutting subcontractor to the main contractor Schuchart.

Schuchart Vice President Bob Gregorini said both Schuchart and Boeing are investigating the cause of the accident.

Typically injured workers are limited to workers compensation remedies. They cannot sue their employers (even if their employers are negligent). However, injured workers can collect workers compensation benefits and file suit if they were injured by the negligence of third parties. (Third parties are people other than fellow employees or their employers.) There is a big difference between benefits under workers compensation and damages in a personal injury case – the remedies in a personal injury case are much more generous.

One of the most common situations where this happens is at construction sites. General contractors have a duty to provide a safe worksite and can be sued by the employees of subcontractors. The injured concrete cutting employee has a potential claim against the general contractor Schuchart. He may also have a claim against Boeing if it was acting like a general contractor and controlling the way the work was performed.

In order for the injured worker to pursue his personal injury claim he needs to make what is called a "third-party election" with the Department of Labor and Industries.