Anyone who has ever suffered a serious workplace accident likely is aware that medical care and rehabilitation gets paid for outside of usual channels. North Carolina, like all states, has a law on the books related to workers’ compensation coverage. In our state, a business with three or more employees is required to have necessary insurance or be qualified to self-insure.
Typically, in instances where coverage is available and used, the employer is shielded from further civil action. However, there may be circumstances in which the negligent actions of a third party are to blame for the accident. When that can be shown, it may be possible to seek recovery outside the scope of workers’ compensation whether the accident resulted in injury or even wrongful death.
What prompts this observation is the tragedy that occurred several weeks ago in Raleigh. Four workers fell several stories when the exterior work platform they were on gave way. Three of the men died. The fourth was seriously injured.
According to news reports, the men were on a device called a mast climber scaffold. For some reason one of the tracks supporting the movable work platform snapped. Investigators from the state Department of Labor are in the process of trying to determine what happened, but they say it could be months before a final report is issued.
A spokesman for the general contractor at the site says that the accident happened as the scaffolding subcontractor was in the process of dismantling the structure.
It may not be possible to determine whether the potential for a third party claim for negligence exists in this case at this point. It’s a decision that should be made in consultation with an experienced attorney in any event.