Workplace Accidents

The lawyers of Gilloon, Wright & Hamel, P.C. practice personal injury law involving workplace accidents all over the state of Iowa. Call or email us now and one of our experienced attorneys would be happy to answer any questions you have and talk about helping you with your Iowa workplace accident case.

Under Iowa workers’ compensation law workers are entitled to be compensated by their employers for all injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment.

In addition to a workers’ compensation claim, a person injured at work can also have claims against other persons or companies outside the workers’ compensation system.

This section will provide an overview of some of the potential sources of additional recoveries outside of the workers’ compensation system.

Liability of Non-Employers for Construction Site Injuries

A worker that is injured on a construction site is entitled to Iowa workers’ compensation benefits from his employer. Additionally, the worker may be entitled to compensation from several other parties. The general contractor, and sometimes the owner, have a duty to provide a safe workplace for employees of subcontractors. If this duty is violated, the employee of a subcontractor may have a personal injury claim against the general contractor or the owner of the property.

In some situations, a subcontractor may be liable for injuries suffered by the employee of another subcontractor. A subcontractor is generally not liable for performing work according to the terms of the contract, but the subcontractor may be liable if such work is performed negligently.

Another frequent situation which ends up imposing legal liability on the general contractor is when the general contractor retained control of the work. This retained control imposes a duty to exercise reasonable care. The level of “retained control” necessary to impose liability is set out in the Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 414, which provides in part:

“. . . the employer must have retained at least some degree of control over the manner in which the work is done. It is not enough that he has merely a general right to order the work stopped or resumed, to inspect its progress or to receive reports, to make suggestions or recommendations which need not necessarily be followed, or to prescribe alterations and deviations. Such a general right is usually reserved to employers, but it does not mean that the contractor is controlled as to his methods of work, or as to operative detail. There must be such a retention of a right of supervision that the contractor is not entirely free to do the work in his own way.”

If sufficient control is retained under this standard, the general contractor will frequently be found to be responsible for injuries to employees of subcontractors on the work project.

Sometimes the contracts involved in a work project may also assign to the general contractor a duty to provide safe working conditions for everyone on the project, and this can be a source of liability.

Products Liability

Another situation in which an injured worker has additional claims beyond those for workers’ compensation benefits involve product liability cases. A worker can be injured on the job by defective products in a wide variety of ways such as:

  • A worker can be injured by a defective assembly line type of machine.
  • A construction worker can be injured by a wide variety of defective machinery from forklifts to power tools and everything in between.

In potential products liability cases it is especially important to take action early to preserve evidence, and have the claim investigated by qualified experts to determine whether a successful claim can be brought.

Interplay of Workers’ Compensation and Other Claims

Where an injured person receives workers’ compensation benefits, and also pursues a claim against other parties such as discussed above, there are certain special legal duties and requirements that arise.

In such a situation an injured worker is required to repay the workers’ compensation carrier the money and medical benefits he has received.

An injured worker also needs the consent of his employer and the workers’ compensation insurance company in order to settle a claim against other parties.

Call or email us now, and our lawyers would be happy to talk to you about your Iowa workplace accident case and answer your questions without charge or obligation.