What if a subcontractor’s Employee is Hurt on Your Worksite in California? Can they File for Workers’ Compensation Against Your Company?

Many companies in California work with subcontractors. You may be wondering: What happens if a subcontractor’s employee is hurt at your worksite? The short answer is that their workers’ compensation claim is through their own employer—but if your negligence contributed to the accident, your company may bear liability through a third-party liability lawsuit. Here, our Fresno workers’ compensation defense attorney explains the key things that employers should know if a subcontractor is injured at their workplace.

What is a Subcontractor?

The Legal Information Institute defines a subcontractor as “a person or entity that has been awarded by the general contractor the performance of part of the work or services.” In other words, a subcontractor may be an independent contractor who is self-employed, or he or she may be an employee of another company. Most often, a subcontractor will provide services or labor to a general contractor, who is directly in contract with the principal client. The relationship allows for specialization—where subcontractors bring specific skills or resources to a project that the general contractor may lack. Subcontractors are common in many industries, including construction.

Subcontractors are Responsible for Insuring Their Own Employee

Companies in California have to provide no-fault workers’ compensation insurance coverage to all of their employees. However, they are not required to get coverage for subcontractors. By law, subcontractors must carry their own workers’ compensation insurance to cover their own employees. The requirement ensures that if a subcontractor’s employee gets injured on the job, the subcontractor’s insurance is responsible for providing benefits. Before beginning work, general contractors should verify that subcontractors have valid and sufficient workers’ compensation coverage.

Potential Liability Risk: Company Could Face Negligence Claim for Non-Employee Injury

Despite subcontractors bearing the primary responsibility for insuring their employees, there are circumstances where a company—general contractor or project owner—could face a negligence claim. If a subcontractor’s employee is injured due to the company’s failure to maintain a safe work environment, the company could be liable. This type of claim is often referred to as a third-party liability claim. It is a fault-based case that could be supplemental to an employee’s workers’ compensation. It can be brought against any negligent party other than their own employee. The risk highlights the importance of diligent oversight and adherence to safety protocols by all parties involved in a project. For companies that use subcontractors, there are often insurance options and contracting strategies that can be used to help limit the risk.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation with Our Fresno Workers’ Compensation Defense Lawyer Today

At Yrulegui & Roberts, our Fresno workers’ compensation defense attorneys have the experience employers can trust. If you have any questions about work injury claims and subcontractors, we are here as a legal resource. Contact us right away to set up your strictly private case evaluation. With a legal office in Fresno, we defend workers’ compensation matters throughout the surrounding region in California.