Who is liable when a construction accident occurs?
The construction industry is a notoriously dangerous one.According to the United States Department of Labor, of the nearly 5,000 employees killed on the job each week, 21 percent are construction workers. This hazardous profession recently claimed the lives of two New York City workers. A falling glass panel from a skyscraper construction site killed one construction worker and a security worker. Investigations revealed that the panel had been on the loading dock, awaiting installation, when it tipped over. Our NYC construction accident attorneys discuss the causes of construction accidents and liability in the event of a fatal construction incident below.
Causes of Construction Accidents
Construction workers are exposed to numerous hazards on a daily basis. Workers in this industry frequently find themselves sustaining injuries, at times severe. Some of the main causes of construction related accidents and injuries include:
- Falls from heights: Falls from heights are considered the number one cause of construction accidents. Construction workers commonly work at extreme heights on ladders and scaffolds. When a worker falls from several feet in the air, the results can be devastating.
- Falling objects: Construction often involves hoisting heavy objects up to tall heights. When an object is dropped or falls, it can seriously injure an unsuspecting worker below. It was this type of accident that caused the recent fatalities in New York City.
- Electrical injuries: Construction workers regularly work around electricity. A wrong move or a faulty electrical wire can leave a construction worker with grave electrical burns or even kill someone.
Liability for Construction Accidents
Determining liability for a construction accident can be a complex process due to the many parties involved. Potentially liable parties for a construction related injury could include:
- General contractors: The general contractor, along with the subcontractor, have the legal duty to ensure the construction site is safe. Contractors must provide well maintained equipment and appropriate safety devices. Contractors must also verify work is being completed in accordance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. Failure to fulfill these duties can lead to liability for a construction accident.
- Sub-contractors: Sub-contractors retained by the general contractor are also responsible for ensuring OSHA regulations are followed and the job is completed in a safe manner. At times, both the general contractor and sub-contractor will be liable for an accident.
- Construction site owners: The construction site owner is typically involved in the project at an intimate level when it is a large project. Construction site owners could be liable for accidents occurring on the job depending on how much control they exercised over the premises and the job being completed.