A construction site accident in Suffolk, Virginia (VA), provides a good example of when a person injured on the job could have grounds for filing a workers’ compensation claim and pursuing a personal injury lawsuit at the same time. According to news reports, the injured person will need as much financial support as possible as they recover.

The accident happened in the 1900 block of Laycock Lane on the morning of April 26, 2022. Two housing developments are going up where Laycock Lane intersects with Paragon Way and Union Pacific Parkway. As the person who got hurt operated one piece of heavy equipment, a dump truck backed into him.

The man became trapped in the wreckage. After emergency responders freed the worker, they had him airlifted to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Follow-up reporting on the incident confirmed that the man sustained serious injuries but would survive.

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Police and workplace safety investigators continue looking into why the dump truck crashed into the other vehicle.

Preventable Accidents Create Legal Liability

Clearly, the man who went to the hospital has the right to claim workers’ comp benefits. Even though he maintains a permanent residence in Louisiana, he will have access to Virginia’s workers’ comp system because of where the work-related injuries occurred.

That would usually end the story from a legal standpoint. Virginia, like practically every other state, bars employees from filing personal injury lawsuits against their employers. Exemptions to the prohibition do exist, but invoking those requires an employee to prove that their injuries resulted from gross negligence or a desire to intentionally or maliciously cause them harm.

What appears to have happened off Laycock Lane in Suffolk, however, could give rise to what personal injury attorneys call a third-party lawsuit. Specifically, the injured construction worker could file a lawsuit against the dump truck operator or against the company that employed the dump truck operator.

Proceeding with a third-party lawsuit would require establishing that the injured person and the truck driver worked for different companies. This situation often happens on construction sites.

Winning the third-part lawsuit would then require showing that the dump truck operator acted negligently or recklessly. Some questions to answer in this regard include

  • Did the person operating the truck fail to use or ignore a spotter?
  • Was the operator properly license and trained?
  • Did the truck have all required mirrors, sensors and other safety equipment?

Findings by police and safety regulators will go far in providing the details needed to decide whether filing a third-party lawsuit makes sense. If the man injured on the job in Suffolk does choose to move forward with a lawsuit, any monetary settlement or jury award would come in addition to the workers’ comp benefits received.

EJL