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What Are My Rights Against the Owner of a Property or the General Contractor if I Am Injured by a Subcontractor?

Sep 27, 2021 | Workers' Compensation


After suffering injuries in a premises liability accident, the victim or employee of a subcontractor may often wonder if they can sue the general contractor for compensation. In the construction industry, the owner or builder may directly hire a general contractor. The general contractor then often hires a subcontractor to perform the work. While the general contractor oversees the completion of the project, a subcontractor performs the different tasks within the project. 

For example, a general contractor may hire a plumber, an electrician, a roofing company, or a cleaning company to work on the construction project. 

Third-Party Claims in Construction Accidents in Indiana

A third-party claim is a claim brought against the third party who is not the victim’s employer. The third party may be partially or fully responsible for the injuries caused. If a third party’s negligence caused injuries to a worker, the worker may sue them for compensation. In certain situations, a general contractor may qualify as a third party if the accident was a result of such contractor’s negligence.

The most important aspect of a third-party claim in a premises liability action is proving negligence on the part of the general contractor. It must be shown that the injuries caused to the victim were a result of such negligence. It must be shown that the general contractor breached the duty of care owed towards the victim.

Furthermore, Indiana is a comparative fault state. This means that the amount of compensation may get reduced in proportion to the injured workers’ or victim’s fault. A time limit of two years is also applicable when filing a third-party claim in Indiana. 

A workers’ compensation claim is a no-fault claim, while a third-party claim depends on proving the negligence of the general contractor. Through a third-party claim, the victim may claim additional compensation not covered under the workers’ compensation claim. 

General Contractors’ Liability in Indiana

As a general rule, general contractors in Indiana cannot be held responsible for subcontractors’ negligence. However, in recent case laws, the Indiana Supreme Court has added exceptions to this general rule. Some of these exceptions are:

Great Extent of Control Over the Construction Site

One such exception is when the general contractor has a great level of control over the construction site and the safety measures taken there. If the general contractor controls the quality of the raw materials used, the safety equipment used, and the construction process, they may be held liable for the related injuries. 

Contractual Terms Between the General Contractor & the Subcontractor

Furthermore, the terms of a contract between the general contractor and the subcontractor may also be helpful in determining liability. If a contractual term imposes a particular duty on a general contractor and the same is breached by the contractor, then a claim can be made against them for causing the injuries. 

For example, where a contractual term specifies that the safety equipment will be provided by the general contractor and the equipment provided is not adequate, then the contractor may be held liable. 

Determining Liability in An Indiana Construction Accident

Determining liability in an Indiana construction accident is a complex process. Multiple parties including manufacturers, service providers, architects, or designers may be involved in addition to general contractors and subcontractors. 

Therefore, while determining the question of whether a victim can sue the general contractor for the negligence of a subcontractor, multiple factors are taken into account. It might be possible that the negligence of other third parties also contributed to the accident. 

Contacting an Indiana Construction Accident Attorney

Proving negligence on the part of a general contractor and claiming compensation is a difficult process. All of the surrounding evidence including the contractual terms, condition of the construction site accident, and the general contractor and subcontractors’ role need to be considered while making a claim.

If you believe that your injuries were a result of the general contractor’s negligence or if you want to know if you can sue the general contractor for the negligence of the subcontractor, contact us today. 

At Stewart & Stewart, our team of experienced construction accident attorneys can successfully help you evaluate all of the surrounding circumstances and determine if you can make a claim against a general contractor. 

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