On November 16, 2016, a construction accident left one dead and another injured in Memphis, Tennessee. The accident occurred around 11:00 a.m. at the Cargill plant on President’s Island. According to reports, Cargill was in the process of tearing down buildings on its property. Officers from the Memphis Police Department arrived at the Cargill plant to investigate the accident, and the investigation revealed a wall collapsed during a demolition at the plant.
In a written statement, Cargill stated the deceased employee was a contractor hired to work at the plant. The worker who was injured is also a contractor, and he was taken from the scene to the hospital in non-critical condition. While the investigation will likely remain ongoing for quite some time, police have confirmed there did not appear to be any gas or chemical leaks that could further injure employees or those nearby.
In Tennessee, when a worker sustains injuries on the job, that person is typically able to recover certain benefits through the state’s workers’ compensation system. In most situations, instead of filing a lawsuit against the employer for negligence, Tennessee law states the injured worker’s remedy is making a workers’ compensation claim through their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Tennessee law requires employers with five or more employees to carry workers’ compensation coverage. Once coverage is established for the accident, the injured employee can be entitled to benefits such as medical bills, wage loss, and permanent impairment, once treatment is complete. Receiving these benefits promptly can be critical, especially if the workplace injury leaves the employee unable to return to work.
Injuries involving contractors and subcontractors in Tennessee present unique issues when it comes to affording coverage for the loss. One issue can be whose workers’ compensation coverage applies, that of the principal contractor or the subcontractor? According to Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-113, a principal contractor, intermediate contractor, or subcontractor is responsible for providing coverage for an employee injured while employed by the principal contractor, performing the subject matter of the contract, and working on the premises of the principal contractor.
Under this section, the subcontracted employee could be covered under the principal contractor’s insurance even if the employee’s immediate employer did not carry valid workers’ compensation coverage. For example, employees of staffing agencies who get hurt on an assignment may be able to recover under this section if the staffing agency did not have valid coverage or for some reason let it lapse. The idea behind this law is to help ensure injured Tennesseans are able to receive the medical care and attention they need if they were injured within the course and scope of their employment.
While an injured employee’s remedy against his or her employer is usually limited to a workers’ compensation claim, he or she could have additional causes of action against other parties that were involved. For example, an employee could be entitled to recover damages against a third party whose negligence caused the injuries and resulting damages. People injured on another business’ property in the Memphis area can have claims regarding office building safety or dangerous conditions on the property. It is therefore critical to fully investigate all workplace accidents to look to all potential sources of recovery. Negligent third parties may be identified by interviewing witnesses, reviewing corporate policies and procedures, and consulting with qualified experts.
When you or a loved one has been hurt on the job, it is important to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. Many cases are decided on specific nuances of the law, and Tennessee law provides a strict time frame within which these claims must be brought. Call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz today at 1-800-LAW-4004 for a free consultation on your case. NST is the largest plaintiff’s personal injury law firm based in Tennessee.