After a construction accident, it's expected that employees will have workers' compensation benefits and that government agencies will investigate. But as one recent ladder accident shows, that's not always the case. Whether a worker is an employee and whether government agencies can get involved depends on the circumstances of the accident.
The accident happened when two men were working on a garage. They were working on ladders about 20 to 25 feet from the ground when both fell separately from the ladders. Both were seriously injured and were flown to a medical center for treatment.
Police said a 50-year-old man could be paralyzed as a result of the accident. A 30-year-old man was apparently less seriously injured, although the hospital was not releasing information about his condition.
Neither the state Labor Department nor the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will look into the matter. The area director for OSHA said his agency had determined that the three men worked as partners, and there was no employer-employee relationship. OSHA protects employees, and if there were no employees, there is nothing for the agency to inspect, the director says.
Maine, where the accident occurred, also does not have jurisdiction over the accident, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor said. She says the accident raises questions of worker misclassification that can leave workers without workers' compensation coverage in the event of an accident.
It can be difficult to tell whether a worker is an employee, contractor or partner, and the effect on a worker's benefits and ability to sue can be enormous. This is one reason why it's important to consult an experienced construction accident attorney to find out your legal rights and options after a construction accident.
Source: Bangor Daily News, "Federal, state safety agencies won't investigate Richmond ladder accident," Beth Brogan, July 29, 2013
- Our law firm represents clients who have been injured in New York City construction accidents. Visit our page onladder accidents and fallsfor more information.