Regardless how small project or major commercial development you are working as a construction worker on a daily basis, you are faced with dangerous working conditions and as a result, severe work-related injuries at the construction site do happen. Employers and the government work together to prevent construction-related accidents by promoting safety awareness through established regulations, specifications, inspection requirements, and job safety programs.
In spite the efforts to handle the challenges of construction site safety, accidents still happen and will continue to happen because of the nature of the work itself and the various hazards faced by the construction workers. These hazards include falling from scaffolds and other forms of elevations, being struck by moving or falling machinery, electrocution, health hazards resulting from exposure to asbestos and harsh chemicals, injuries caused by defective or unreasonably unsafe equipment, and lifting and repetitive motion injuries.
If you or any of your family members is injured as an outcome of construction accident, you can contact an experienced lawyer who knows about construction site injuries to discuss your situation and your intention to claim workers’ compensation. Your lawyer can handle any potential case, adherence to occupational and site safety standards and regulations, engineering concerns, liability and indemnity determinations.
Construction Site Injury Liability
There is a wide variety of the persons involved at the construction site which include the landowner of the site; design; engineering professionals; contractor including the general, “prime,” and “sub”-contractors; construction managers; and the equipment and material suppliers. Although there are many construction projects that are based on general contract relationships where the general contractor is retained by the site owner enters into an agreement with sub-contractors as the needs arise. Bigger projects are being handled by “construction management” organizations.
This particular system at the construction site where injury takes place is vital in evaluating the potential liability of different persons involved in the project, particularly the liability of the site owner. Bigger construction projects involve a great deal of delegation of work and legal responsibility, from the site owner to general contractor; from general contractor to “prime” or “sub”-contractor; and in other cases, “prime” contractor to “sub”-contractor. Generally, in evaluating the liability for injuries at construction site, the work is done, and the level of their control over the work.
In determining who is liable for injuries due to construction accident, it will be useful to review the duties and legal responsibilities of the persons involved in the construction project.
Construction Site Owner
Dependent on the degree of control on the premises that he/she gives over to an independent contractor, the landowner may not be refer to as the legal owner of the land during the construction project. The issues of landowner liability will also change the level of his/her control over the premises, rather than the work itself. Thus, the owner of the land may be liable for any injury to individuals including the construction workers involved in the project which is caused by potentially harmful condition on the land that the owner know or should reasonably have known. This responsibility does not extend to the potentially dangerous conditions that are obvious to the business invitees, and the duty may be removed or the liability of the owner which depend on the independent contractor’s knowledge and duties.
General Contractors and “Sub”-Contractors
The general and sub-contractor must give the workers a construction site that is reasonably safe, as they have a legal responsibility to warn of any defects or dangers at the site and the hazards inherent in the nature of the work being performed. Normally, the general or sub-contractor has a responsibility to ensure that the extent to which the work is delegated and the work is being performed safely. This responsibility goes beyond the hiring of reasonably competent workers, making sure that adherence to safety regulations is done.
Prime contractors are similar to general and sub-contractors and they depend on particular construction project in question. If the general contractor has the duty for the whole project, the prime contractor’s scope is only for the work identified in his/her prime contract. This type of contractor is in charge for any work that he/she selects to give to the sub-contractors, and has exclusive responsibility over the sub-contractors including the payment and quality of work.
Architects and Engineers
They are known as the design professionals who are responsibility with different levels of duties to construction project. The best way to know the extent of their responsibility is to check on their design professional’s contract with the owner of the site. Duties include the progress observation to make sure that there is adherence to the plans and specifications, and site inspection to make sure the compliance with the code regulations. An architect or engineer may be held accountable for any injuries suffered by the construction workers caused by their failure to meet the standards.
Manufacturers of Construction Machinery or Equipment
The manufacturers of defective construction machinery or equipment may be held liable for the design and manufacturing, including maintenance of the machinery and equipment. Their liability of defective product includes the theory of “no-fault” or “strict liability.”
Appropriate insurance coverage is essential for construction projects. For instance, the owner or the property manager may be mandated to have liability insurance for the premises or property; the general and/or sub-contractor may need to have workers’ compensation, commercial general liability, and employer’s liability insurance. The insurance should cover every respective parties involved in the construction project, and the degree of the coverage are vital in evaluating the legal duty for construction injury.
OSHA Safety Regulations
The safety regulations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of1970 were adopted in most of the states, and these regulations are used in work performed at the construction sites. The issue of who is liable for making sure that there is adherence to OSHA regulations, like general contractor or sub-contractor usually turns on who controls the job site or job activity when the injured worker is harmed. The legal effects of the violations of OSHA regulations will differ and it will depend on the state where the construction injury happened. In determining who is at fault at the accident, one should establish that responsible party is negligent.
The OSHA regulations are considered legal standards to which the owner of the property, the general contractor, or sub-contractor may be held liable for construction accident. Usually, the property owner or the general contractor has their own set of safety programs that are applicable to the construction project, developed to safeguard those workers of the project. The violations of these regulations may be useful to support a claim for construction accident.
Obtaining Legal Assistance for Construction Accident Injury
If you suffered an injury as an outcome of an accident at the construction site, the following are things you can do to safeguard yourself and your legal rights:
- Seek for medical attention for your injuries
- Report the injury to your employer and/or construction site manager and take note of the name and position of the person you have notified.
- Have the names and contact details of anybody who witnessed the incident.
- When it is possible, try to maintain any evidence associated with the injury by taking pictures of the area where you were injured, or keeping the equipment or the tool involved in your injury.
Then, consider finding a lawyer to assist you assess your potential claim. Contact an experienced lawyer who knows about construction injury law and claims for recovery of your injuries resulting from construction accident.