Who Is Liable for an Injury Caused by Falling Objects on a Construction Site?
Construction sites are notoriously dangerous places. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2018 alone, there were 1,083 workplace fatalities on construction sites around the country.
There are many ways to sustain injuries on a building site, including slips and falls, electrocutions, and machinery accidents. One of the most common causes of on-site injuries is falling debris or objects, which can cause serious damage, including head injuries.
Who is liable for these accidents and what legal action construction workers can take depends on several factors and may include the manufacturer, your employer, or a coworker. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help determine the best course to get you the compensation you deserve.
Why are Falling Object Accidents Common on Construction Sites?
Some of the typical objects which fall on building sites are tools, equipment, and debris from building demolitions. Often, they cause injuries as a result of:
- Failure to use proper PPE (personal protective equipment).
- Incorrect use of equipment, machinery, or tools, perhaps due to lack of training or distracted workers.
- Poorly secured or too heavy a load on the hoist, crane, or boom.
- Insufficient or poorly constructed barricades or scaffolding.
- Malfunction equipment, either due to poor manufacturing or insufficient servicing and maintenance.
- Lack of warning signage.
- Not stacking materials properly.
- Failure to follow safety standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Depending on the cause of the accident, a different party could be liable, from the landlord or contractor to the manufacturer or supervisor. With so many people involved in site safety, defining liability can be challenging.
There are many cases in which the employer is responsible for injuries on a construction site. Construction companies and managers are legally obliged to provide a safe working environment for their employees; that means following the correct safety procedures and ensuring that all workers are adequately trained.
However, most employees cannot sue their bosses for damages after being injured by a falling object on site. This is because private employees are required to have workers’ compensation insurance, which provides financial support to the worker but, in most cases, nullifies their right to sue.
Regardless, you should seek legal advice because your employer’s insurance company will try to limit the compensation benefits you receive, and a lawyer can ensure you get full compensation.
Even though the employer may be negligent, others on the construction site may be held responsible for construction site injuries.
General Contractor Liability
Construction sites will have numerous specialty contractors and subcontractors who must work together on a timetable as the construction proceeds. The contractor who supervises the construction is called the General Contractor who is responsible for workplace safety including enforcing OSHA regulations. OSHA mandates wearing fall protection equipment, hard hats, safety glasses and other personal safety devices. In addition, the General Contractor must schedule the work to ensure that there is sufficient time for the sub-contractors to complete their work in a safe environment including scaffolding, trenching, and safety barriers. Failure to follow construction site safety will cause injuries and the General Contractor will be responsible.
Every worker on a construction site is responsible for safety. While an injured worker cannot sue his own employer beyond seeking workers compensation benefits, if an employee from a different subcontractor is negligent, the employer for the other subcontractor can be held responsible for his employee’s negligence.
Land or Building Owner Liability
Land or building owners are more often liable for injuries on their site if the buildings are already complete, for instance, in the case of an addition. In order for liability to be established in this case, your personal injury lawyer must prove that the accident was directly caused by the building being in violation of local building ordinances.
In addition, the owner can also be held responsible for ultra-hazardous activity that results in an injury. For example, working in and around electric power lines can be an ultar-hazadous activity. If proper safety procedures are ignored and an electrocution occurs to a construction worker, the land owner may be held responsible.
If a tool, piece of equipment, or PPE is defective, the manufacturer could be considered liable for the accident. To prove this liability, your lawyer must show that the product was not safe when it left the manufacturer due to poor design or a manufacturing error (rather than because of a lack of maintenance), causing you to suffer injuries.
Examples of Damages
Those who have been hurt by a falling object on a worksite can sue for damages including:
- Loss of income and earning potential
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
Consulting a Personal Injury Attorney
Working in the construction industry comes with a certain amount of risk; however, you should not be put in unnecessary danger.
If you or a family member has been involved in an accident on a construction site, you should immediately consult a construction accident attorney. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we are dedicated to ensuring all workplace accident victims receive the compensation they deserve.
For more information or to arrange a free consultation, contact us today at (866) 642-4529.