Who Can Be Held Liable for Injuries in Construction Accidents?Last updated on: September 30, 2022
When attorneys evaluate construction accidents, they look at whether the general contractor or sub-contractor followed safety standards. Oftentimes, when somebody has been injured the general contractor or sub-contractor has violated some form of safety standards.
Zinda Law Group’s lawyers work with The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) experts who look at the case and evaluate whether your injury resulted from someone failing to follow the guidelines that are set by OSHA or other regulating bodies.
Many construction accidents may involve things like work-site falls from failure to use fall protection, or not guarding drop openings, or unstable construction materials. These can occur in several different ways, but meeting with an experienced attorney can help you to be more informed while also allowing somebody to evaluate your case.
The Dangers Found On Construction Sites
There are multiple ways workers can hurt themselves at construction sites if their employers do not follow acceptable standards to make the site as safe as possible.
Because of the nature of construction, there are multiple places workers can fall or slip and be struck, sometimes leading to fatal injuries.
Common Construction Site Injuries
The kinds of construction site injuries you might sustain vary greatly based on the project and the stage the project is at. For example, if you are doing electrical work, you have a greater chance of being electrocuted and sustaining burns. If you are completing repetitive motions such as laying bricks, you could receive a neck, shoulder, or back injury.
Other common construction site injuries include eye injuries (blindness or other vision impairment), head injuries, sickness from chemical exposure, broken bones, spinal injuries, and injuries to your joints. It’s possible your injury will affect you for the rest of your life and require ongoing care.
What Is The Most Common Cause Of Injury In Construction?
Again, the cause of your injury varies based on the type of construction you are doing. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outlines four major causes of injury in construction. These include electrical incidents, falls, struck-by accidents, and trenching and excavation accidents.
Construction workers are often around electrical hazards. They may come into contact with power lines, use equipment in an incorrect manner, or use extension cords incorrectly. Each of these can cause electrocution.
Falls are the most common cause of injury in construction. They can happen when there are unprotected sides or holes in walls or floors, when scaffolds are incorrectly constructed, when portable ladders are misused, and when steel rebars protrude unguarded.
Struck-by incidents usually involve heavy equipment like trucks, cranes, and falling objects. Struck-by accidents can also occur when jacks or lifting equipment are used to build masonry walls.
Finally, mistakes can happen during trenching and excavation, exposing workers to the risk of a serious injury. Cave-ins can happen and crush workers. Additionally, all of the other hazards leading to construction injuries might occur during trenching and excavation.
For example, underground or overhead electrical lines could harm unprotected workers. Alternatively, workers could fall into a trench, or heavy machinery used to dig trenches might strike a worker.
Other causes of injuries in construction are repetitive motions and failure to properly use personal protective equipment (PPE). Repetitive motions can lead to tendonitis or bursitis. If a worker fails to properly use PPE and becomes injured as a result, it will be critical to determine whether the failure to use PPE is the worker or employer’s fault.
General Rules Of Liability
In personal injury lawsuits, the victim must generally prove two matters: fault and damages. That is, the victim must show that the defendant is responsible for the accident and that the victim suffered damages as a result.
However, if a worker is hurt while on the job, he or she could be eligible for worker’s compensation. If the employer has worker’s compensation insurance, you cannot file a personal injury claim and must instead file for relief through worker’s compensation.
Texas is the only state that does not require employers to carry worker’s compensation insurance.
Property Owner or General Subcontractor Liability
Liability with Property Owner
The property owner might be liable for the construction accident if the owner did not warn employers and workers about safety hazards already on the site.
If you are not a construction worker and the property owner invited you onto the construction site, the property owner could be liable for the injuries you receive on the site.
Liability for Subcontractors
There can be multiple parties involved in construction cases. Sometimes, one construction company oversees every aspect of the project, but often, general contractors delegate various aspects of the project to different subcontractors.
Liability depends on which party provided the equipment for the job and which party was responsible for preventing the kind of injury that occurred.
Construction Companies Have Legal Obligations To Maintain Safe Conditions At Work Sites For Their Employees
All workplaces must ensure that working conditions are safe for employees, and construction companies are no exception. Construction sites are even more dangerous than the average workplace. Employers should therefore take even more steps to maintain a safe work environment.
If a construction company fails to meet state or federal requirements in its safety regimen and an employee gets hurt as a result, the construction company must pay for the employee’s loss.
Failure to meet the safety regulations includes failure to properly train employees, failure to supervise the site, failure to inspect the site, and failure to provide employees with the proper PPE.
Who Else Could Be Liable For A Construction Site Injury?
The manufacturers of the power tools or other equipment used at the construction site could be liable for certain kinds of accidents. If the equipment malfunctions due to a manufacturing defect and harms you, you could file a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
Architects and Engineers
The architect or engineer who designs the plan for the site could also be held liable for an accident if the injured worker was following the architect or engineer’s plan.
The Dangers Found On Construction Sites
Making Use of Safety Gear
The construction company is responsible for providing workers with all the safety gear necessary to protect employees. Not only must the company provide the gear, but it must also keep the gear in good working order.
The construction company must also train its employees on how to use the safety gear. The construction company could be held liable for an accident involving an employee’s poor use of safety gear if the company failed to train its employees on the gear.
Are there hazardous conditions?
Whether there are hazardous conditions already at the site can affect which party is at fault for the accident. The owner of the property could be held liable instead of the construction company if the owner failed to give the company and workers notice of hazardous conditions on the property.
Where did the accident take place?
If your accident occurred on the work site, you could likely receive compensation for your injury, either through worker’s compensation or a personal injury claim. However, if the accident occurred during your commute to or from work, you will not be likely to be able to recover from your employer.
Who controlled the construction site at the time of the accident?
We have discussed how a property owner, contractor, subcontractor, architect, and equipment manufacturer could all have a hand in the construction site. Whichever party controlled the aspect of the construction site where the accident occurred must take responsibility for the accident.
How Can Construction Workers Obtain Compensation For Their Construction Site Injuries?
Texas is the only state that does not require employers to carry worker’s compensation. Even then, many Texan employers still carry the policy. Therefore, the vast majority of workers across the United States can obtain compensation for their construction site injuries through worker’s compensation.
Even if you are injured away from your normal work site, you could be compensated for the injury so long as you are working at the time. However, as we mentioned earlier, you cannot receive compensation if you were injured during your routine commute. But, if you traveled or were transported from your usual worksite to another site and were injured, you could likely receive compensation for your injury so long as you did not violate company policy.
You do not need to prove that your employer was at fault for the accident to receive worker’s compensation. You could even receive worker’s compensation if you partially caused the injury. Speak with an attorney to learn about filing for worker’s compensation.
Proving Liability In Construction Accidents
Worker’s compensation is a no-fault system; meaning that you do not need to establish liability for the injury. However, if your employer’s negligence directly caused you harm, you might be able to sue. To sue your employer, you must establish your employer’s liability for the accident.
To prove liability in construction accidents, you must meet the four elements of negligence:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care.
- The defendant violated the standard of the duty of care.
- You received an injury for which you can be compensated.
- The defendant’s breach directly caused your injury.
The construction company owes you a duty of care to prevent foreseeable harm, which includes following all the regulations associated with the construction project. If the construction company fails to meet the standard of care, then it has breached the duty of care.
You must have been injured in a way that allows you to be compensated. A physical injury typically suffices to meet this element. Finally, it must be the defendant’s breach of duty that caused your injury.
Need Help? Speak With an Experienced Attorney Today
If you or someone you know has been injured in a workplace accident, call Zinda Law Group at (888) 435-1046 to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation. At the consultation, we will help you understand your legal rights and options, evaluate your case, and answer your questions about the process.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.