If you were injured on the job by a third-party contractor (that's just a fancy name for another company - one you don't work for, which is a reality in the District with third-party contractors being hired for all sorts of jobs) you may be wondering if you are entitled to both workers' comp benefits and be able to recover damages against the person or company that caused the accident or injuries. The answer, in short, is yes.
Contractors are not employees for your employer. They work for their own employer, and maybe they do a different job. A good example of a situation where contractors are employed is on a construction site.
Let's say you are plumber working for a plumbing company on an installation at a commercial construction site in D.C. Let's say a carpenter leaves a hole uncovered and unmarked and you fall into it; seriously injuring your knee and back. You should get workers' comp benefits because you were hurt on the job. But the carpenter's employer (the one who created the unsafe condition) was responsible. You have the right to hold that company accountable for the harm they caused you; and you don't need to choose between workers' comp and a case against this third party. You can do both.
That is how it works, and you see it all over the place in Washington, D.C. In the areas of construction and other job sites there is more opportunity for injury when contractors don't keep job sites safe. The risk of injury is higher with manual labor; more so than desk jobs. But even if you work a desk job, if you are hurt by someone who is not a co-worker, like a delivery person, or a car accident while you are driving to a work appointment, you have the same rights. If a person other than your employer was negligent and caused injury to you, they can be held personally liable, as well as liability extending to their employer.
Conversely, if you were injured due to the negligence of a fellow employee, you would only be able to recover workers' comp benefits. Workers' comp essentially covers that type of liability for your employer, so they cannot be sued.
At Donahoe Kearney, we've seen your situation many times and we have recently won a joint settlement for both workers' comp cases and a third-party liabilty case. If you have been injured on the job and you are wondering what might be your next steps, give us a call at 202-393-3320. You will speak to a real person today, for no cost and no obligation.
Or, email us at [email protected] and we will send you THE book on D.C. workers' compensation: the book the workers' comp insurance company does not want you to read! Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to D.C. Workers' Compensation, now in it's 3rd Edition is THE premier book on the workers' compensation ins and outs in the District of Columbia. You won't want to navigate a workers' comp case without it! The best part is it's free to anybody who calls or emails our offices to request one.