Electrical accidents on the job
A construction site can be dangerous. One contractor may set up a dangerous situation and a worker can be injured or killed by electrocution. If the person injured or killed was on the job, then he will be covered by workers compensation. The advantage of a workers compensation claim is that the injury is covered with no need to show that anyone was at fault or negligent, and the worker is covered even if the worker was negligent. The disadvantage is that the amount paid out is low, and the statute is a bar to any additional claim against the employer.
There can be additional claims, beyond the workers comp claim, against other companies in the case of a job site injury.
For example, the injury could have been caused by dangerous equipment. This is called a products liability claim.
In addition, there can be an Employers Liability Act claim (sometimes called an Employers Liability Law claim). Oregon law provides that the ELA law applies generally as follows.
Before Employer’s Liability Act can be made basis of claim for relief by injured worker suing defendant other than employer of worker, defendant must be in charge of or have responsibility for work involving risk or danger in either (a) situation where defendant and plaintiff’s employer are simultaneously engaged in carrying out work on common enterprise, or (b) situation in which defendant retains right to control or actually exercises control as to manner or method in which risk-producing activity is performed. Miller v. Georgia-Pacific, 294 Or 750, 662 P2d 718 (1983)
Here is the general provision requiring every care, even when expensive:
Oregon Revised Statutes 654.305 Protection and safety of persons in hazardous employment generally. Generally, all owners, contractors or subcontractors and other persons having charge of, or responsibility for, any work involving a risk or danger to the employees or the public shall use every device, care and precaution that is practicable to use for the protection and safety of life and limb, limited only by the necessity for preserving the efficiency of the structure, machine or other apparatus or device, and without regard to the additional cost of suitable material or safety appliance and devices.
In applying the ORS 654.305 requirements, “Public” includes worker whose employer is engaged in common enterprise with in-charge third party. Trout v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp., 154 Or App 89, 961 P2d 235 (1998).
All owners and companies involved must comply with the ELA safety requirements:
Oregon Revised Statutes 654.310 Places of employment; compliance with applicable orders, rules. All owners, contractors, subcontractors, or persons whatsoever, engaged in the construction, repairing, alteration, removal or painting of any building, bridge, viaduct or other structure, or in the erection or operation of any machinery, or in the manufacture, transmission and use of electricity, or in the manufacture or use of any dangerous appliance or substance, shall see that all places of employment are in compliance with every applicable order, decision, direction, standard, rule or regulation made or prescribed by the Department of Consumer and Business Services pursuant to ORS 654.001 to 654.295, 654.412 to 654.423 and 654.750 to 654.780.
Oregon Revised Statutes 654.315 Persons in charge of work to see that ORS 654.305 to 654.336 are complied with. The owners, contractors, subcontractors, foremen, architects or other persons having charge of the particular work, shall see that the requirements of ORS 654.305 to 654.336 are complied with.
Oregon Revised Statutes 654.320 Who considered agent of owner. The manager, superintendent, foreman or other person in charge or control of all or part of the construction, works or operation shall be held to be the agent of the employer in all suits for damages for death or injury suffered by an employee.
The law is well established that there are 3 ways a company can have liability for an injury on the job: To recover under Employer’s Liability Act against person other than injured worker’s employer, injured worker must establish that defendant had
- actual charge of plaintiff’s work; or
- had right to control manner in which plaintiff performed that work; or
- that defendant and plaintiff’s employer were engaged in work on common enterprise.
Torres v. US National Bank of Oregon, 65 Or App 207, 670 P2d 230 (1983), Sup Ct review denied; Quackenbush v. PGE, 134 Or App 111, 894 P2d 535 (1995), Sup Ct review denied; Moe v. Eugene Zurbrugg Construction Co., 202 Or App 577, 123 P3d 338 (2005).
If you or a loved one had a serious injury or death on the job, you should consider whether additional companies, beyond the employer, have liability. If a free consultation would help you evaluate additional claims, see the contact page.