Construction workers suffer some of the highest rates of workplace accidents and fatalities in America. Conditions on construction sites offer opportunities for disaster. Heavy equipment, improper safety gear, and lack of training on the job account for many devastating job site injuries and workplace fatalities.
Who is legally liable for these injuries? How do the courts determine who is responsible for broken bones or fatal injuries? Construction accident attorneys want to see you get the compensation you deserve, but it must be from the company responsible. For legal advice, you need a skilled personal injury lawyer who understands the construction industry.
Workplace injuries may have multiple causes. If a worker falls from a scaffold and breaks a leg, determining who is at fault can be difficult. This is why workers’ compensation insurance was created. The employer provides full medical coverage in exchange for the employee giving up the right to file a personal injury claim against their employer.
This usually works to everyone’s benefit. However, when the accident is due to several causes, workers’ compensation only covers injuries due to the employer’s fault. For instance, if the scaffold was set up by an outside company, workers’ comp insurance may not cover the full cost of the broken leg. So determining liability is critical for construction accidents.
Finding out who may have caused an accident at a construction site requires some detective work. At a big site with many subcontractors, a hazardous situation could have been caused by:
Any of these can be potentially liable in a construction site accident. For instance, if the scaffolding was erected by an outside contractor, but it was hit by a delivery van bringing in materials to the site, these parties would share liability for the construction accident injury.
A construction site is only as safe as the people working on it. Managers must set limits on workers and ensure power tools are working and employees receive proper training in their use. If a worker does not know how to operate a piece of equipment safely, they should not do so. Everyone must be able to report dangerous conditions and be sure they will be corrected.
Managers who skip safety briefings, supervisors who are lax about safety equipment, and co-workers who ignore procedures are all part of the construction accident chain. Even the gate guard plays a role. If they allow a delivery driver through who is not cleared on the property, they can be responsible if the driver is involved in an accident.
In an accident, liability refers to who must pay compensation for the injuries. Liability is determined by negligence, which has four elements:
If all factors can be shown, then the individual or entity was negligent in causing the accident and is liable for any harm done.
Other factors can limit or expand the amount of compensation recoverable in a construction accident. For instance, if the accident is due to faulty equipment, product liability places most of the fault on the manufacturer of the equipment. If the victim was intoxicated at the time, they may end up footing most of their own bills. The nature and cause of the accident are major factors in determining liability.
Although almost any type of injury can occur on a construction site, the most frequent are:
Time pressures and overexertion can result in workplace illnesses such as heart disease, heat exhaustion, and stress injuries. These can leave the victim with medical bills as high as any severe injuries received from accidents on construction sites.
Accidents happen when people fail to follow safety precautions set by OSHA and state regulators. The reasons can be as simple as hurrying to finish at the end of the day or as complex as underbidding a contract and having to make do with shoddy materials.
This explains why determining liability is difficult. A worker is responsible for taking time to put on their safety gear, but their supervisor is just as responsible for ensuring the worker knows how to wear it, the manager for ensuring it is worn by everyone, and the contractor for purchasing quality safety equipment for all workers. Each link in the chain is dependent on all the others.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) devises guidelines for workplace safety around the country. Each state has its own regulations modeled on the OSHA guidelines, tailored for state and county needs. For instance, a regulation about scaffolding bracing in California, where earthquakes occur, will be different than one in Kansas, which has few earthquakes but many windstorms.
Not all workplace injury cases go to trial. Before spending money on costly litigation, a construction accident attorney will negotiate with the insurance company and with the other parties in the case and attempt to come to a resolution.
In some cases, especially if a third-party insurer is involved, the parties may go to arbitration. Arbitration is similar to litigation but is overseen by a neutral official who hears all sides and encourages the parties to come to a decision jointly. The arbitrator makes the determination if they think the decision is fair.
Negotiation can result in a settlement without any party accepting blame or responsibility for the accident.
If you have been involved in a construction site accident, you should speak with an attorney immediately. There may be other factors involved besides liability. The statute of limitations begins to run as soon as you are injured, so your time to file is short. You must also notify the workers’ compensation office within a narrow window if you will file a claim or pursue litigation.
Before making any decisions, speak with the attorneys at Kennedy, Johnson, Schwab & Roberge, L.L.C. You can reach us online or by calling 203-865-8430. Let our experienced construction attorneys manage your construction accident case and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
At Kennedy, Johnson, Schwab & Roberge, L.L.C., we handle all cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that we do not get paid unless and until you receive a settlement or a jury award.
Schedule a free, confidential consultation with a skilled Connecticut personal injury lawyer today.