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Oregon Supreme Court’s ruling in “Yeatts v. Polygon Northwest Co.”


If you are a general contractor in the State of Washington, and a subcontractor’s employee has been injured at your job site, you can expect the injured worker to make a claim against your company. The worker’s exclusive remedy against his own employer is the benefits provided by the workers’ compensation system. Those benefits do not compensate the worker for his physical and mental distress from the injury, known as “pain and suffering,” so he may look to another party to compensate him for that distress. In Washington, the other party is, oftentimes, the general contractor. The Supreme Court of Washington, in “Stute v. PBMC, Inc.,” ruled “the general contractor should bear the primary responsibility for compliance of safety regulations because the general contractor’s innate supervisory authority constitutes sufficient control over the workplace.” As a result of “Stute,” it is common for an injured subcontractor’s employee to make a claim against the general contractor alleging a failure to provide a safe workplace.

As explained in Attorney Jack Levy’s article, the Oregon Supreme Court’s ruling in “Yeatts v. Polygon Northwest Co.” has moved Oregon closer to imposing a “Stute”-like duty on the part of the general contractor to provide a safe workplace. This ruling increases the general contractor’s exposure to claims from subcontractor’s employees who have been injured at the job site.

To address the claims exposure from injured subcontractor’s employees, Parker, Smith & Feek works with our general contractor clients to ensure that their subcontracts include the appropriate risk transfer provisions and, after a claim is made, assist our clients in completing the successful transfer of the risk to the subcontractor.

For more information on Attorney Jack Levy, please click here.

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