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Construction Site Accidents & Injuries – Who Is Liable?

construction site injuriesCalifornia construction laborers face a number of workplace hazards each day. According to OSHA, more than 20% of fatal workplace accidents occur in the construction industry. That means roughly 1 in 5 workers will get hurt on a construction site. California’s construction industry has a fatal injury rate of 6.8 percent, which is second-highest, next to the sector which includes loggers, fishermen, and ranchers. Construction workers die from falls, electrocutions, being struck by heavy objects, getting crushed by equipment, or trapped inside collapsing structures.

OSHA violations often lead to injury

According to the U.S. Occupational & Safety Hazard Administration, the most frequently violated standards leading to injury and death on construction sites include:

  1. Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
  2. Scaffolding requirements (29 CFR 1926.451)
  3. Ladder use (29 CFR 1926.1053)

Other general violations that occur across the various industries include failure to adhere to proper hazard communication standards, poor control of hazardous energy, improper electrical wiring methods, and inadequate respiratory protection. On average, more than 13 people die at work each day in largely preventable accidents. Those who survive are often left with debilitating injuries.

Who is liable for construction accidents and injuries?

Determining liability can be a complex matter, given that each construction setup follows a different hierarchy. There are site landowners, designers and engineers, general contractors, subcontractors, construction managers, equipment manufacturers, material suppliers, maintenance technicians, insurers, and construction management firms. Large construction projects involve a good deal of delegation to spread out legal responsibility.

Possible parties that may be held liable for a construction accident may include:

  • The construction site owner / legal possessor of the land – Like all premises liability cases, the landowner is responsible for maintaining a safe environment for all invited guests. If the land owner knows about (or should have reasonably known about) a potential hazard on the land, but did nothing to remedy the situation, he or she can be charged with violating a duty of care. This standard does not apply when invitees are forewarned about the hazard.
  • General contractors, subcontractors, and coworkers – These workers have a duty to make sure they have performed their portion of work on the construction site safely, to industry and company standards. Competent workers should be hired and thoroughly trained to ensure compliance with safety regulations.
  • Architects and engineers – Design and land use professionals must act in accordance with local code regulations. They must obtain all relevant permits and inspections before their work moves from blueprints to reality. If their work fails to meet the terms, conditions, and standards set forth in their contracts, they may be held responsible.
  • Machinery manufacturers or maintenance technicians – Sometimes equipment malfunctions as a result of poor maintenance work, defective design, or early degradation. The legal principles of a standard product liability lawsuit may apply here.
  • Insurers – Insurance coverage is designed to cover property owners or construction firms in the event of a catastrophe. Sometimes there is ample coverage to pay for all injuries and a lawsuit is not necessary. More often than not, the amount of insurance money offered pales in comparison to the expenses incurred by a serious injury or fatality. Insurance only pays for tangible medical expenses and lost income, not emotional pain and suffering or other, more personal losses. Only a lawsuit can compensate for loss of enjoyment in life, guidance, consortium, companionship, and other heartaches.

Get an experienced Los Angeles construction accident lawyer who cares

The Ellis Injury Law Firm has won over $350 million for clients from diverse backgrounds. A Los Angeles construction accident attorney can help you evaluate your claim for compensation. Our investigators have extensive experience in construction accident reconstruction, and we employ the best industry witnesses to provide depositions and testimonies that lend credence to your case. In most cases, we obtain fair settlements outside of the courtroom. All legal counsel is provided free of charge until we secure money on your behalf, so there is nothing to lose by calling 1-800-INJURED.

Additional California Construction Accident Resources:

  1. BLS – Fatal Occupational Injury Rates by Industry (California, 2015), https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/rate2015ca.htm
  2. BLS – Highest Fatal Injury Rate, https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2014/ted_20140915.htm
  3. OSHA – Common Statistics, https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html