Hiring-Firms Not Liable For Contractor Negligence In Maryland
Who can you sue when you are an employee injured on a Maryland construction site? The list of possibilities is getting shorter, thanks to a recent Maryland court ruling. The process of determining who can be held liable for injuries as an employee can be complicated, and is often stunted due to workers’ compensation insurance, which prevents employees from suing their employer. In some cases, injured employees can circumvent this blockade by suing non-employers who contributed to causing their harm, such as third-party contractors hired by their employer. Maryland courts have now made it clear, however, that employees of a contractor who are killed or injured on the job site may not sue the company or city that hired the contractor.
The Original Case
The case that the court reviewed involved the tragic case of a 20-year-old man who was buried alive due to a horrible mistake on a construction site in Maryland. The man was an employee of a contractor hired by the City of Baltimore to make a pool. The parents of the man were blocked by workers’ compensation from suing the man’s employer, so they sued the city of Baltimore as well as another subcontractor that was present on the site. They alleged that the City had a duty of reasonable care in hiring contractors that they breached by hiring a contractor that did not have the required skills to perform the pool excavation safely. They also alleged that the other subcontractor on site was aware of the dangerous conditions and had a duty to warn their son. The Maryland court found that while the City did have a duty of reasonable care in hiring a qualified contractor to perform the task, they did not breach this duty, as the City’s duty does not extend to ensuring that the contractor’s employees were properly trained and safe. Rather, contractors maintain control over their own employees and work process, so the city cannot be held accountable for an accident of this nature, even if the contractor should have provided more training or avoided making certain errors. Additionally, the court found that the other subcontractor on site did not have an affirmative duty to warn their son or take any action based on their knowledge and observations on the job site.
What this Means for Maryland Employees
The finding in this case will be impactful for personal injury cases related to workplace injuries moving forward, particularly those that involve employees of contractors. This finding essentially makes it so that employees of contractors cannot sue the companies that have hired their employers, effectively putting a stop to the chain of liability, and limiting employees to workers’ compensation remedies in most cases.
Schedule a Consultation with Berman | Sobin | Gross LLP
If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to a construction site or workplace injury, you need a dedicated Maryland workers’ compensation attorney on your side to help you navigate the workers’ compensation process and help ensure that you get the compensation you are entitled to. Contact Berman | Sobin | Gross LLP today to schedule a consultation.