The Employer Liability Law is about a hundred years old. Generally, if you are injured while working an inherently dangerous job, or with dangerous equipment, structures or substances, then you may have a claim against a responsible party for your injuries.
The Oregon Workers’ Compensation Act all but immunizes your employer from any liability, with some very narrow exceptions. However, there may be “indirect employers” responsible for your injuries. These could be property owners, business owners where the work is being performed, other contractors working on the same job.
Indirect Employers have to do whatever it takes, regardless of cost, to protect workers on the job site. Sometimes, the Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Administration will have rules in place for safe practices. If the Indirect Employer violates any of the rules in place, then responsibility is proven. We call this “negligence per se.”
The Indirect Employer and your employer also have to be involved in a common enterprise. In other words, you have to show that your employer and the Indirect Employer were working on the same project, that the work was dangerous, and that you were “adopted” by the Indirect Employer or were intermingled with the Indirect Employer’s employees. Finally, you have to show that the Indirect Employer was in charge of, or responsible for whatever caused your injury.
You have to be an employee, not an independent contractor. You will see situations where a company employs a lot of roofers, but each roofer working on the job is registered with the Construction Contractor Board, and is an “independent contractor.” Whether you are an independent contractor or an employee really boils down to how much control the main contractor has over your work.
If you have been injured on the job, and have more questions, call us at 503-325-8600. We have over twenty years of experience fighting for injured workers.