According to reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the country. The construction industry overall sees the highest rate of workplace fatalities of any field, including professions traditionally considered dangerous, such as law enforcement and firefighters.
Construction site injuries aren’t restricted to industry workers, though. Visitors and bystanders can also be injured or killed in construction accidents if appropriate precautions are not taken. Most of these tragic accidents could have been avoided if it were not for negligent and reckless behavior.
That’s why it is crucial to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions when these accidents happen. Learn how construction site accidents occur, how liability is determined, and how to get legal help if you have been injured on a construction site.
Common Causes of Construction Site Accidents
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determines the standards organizations must meet to provide employees and visitors with a safe and healthy workplace. In the course of monitoring industries for compliance, OSHA has determined the four most common causes of construction site deaths and injuries:
- Falls: More than a third of all construction-related deaths are caused by falling. These falls may occur on improperly used scaffolding and ladders, off the side of buildings, or into holes in the floor.
- Object strikes: More than 10% of deaths and injuries occur when someone is hit by an object, such as a vehicle, dropped building material, or an object sent flying due to an explosion or mechanical failure.
- Electrocutions: About 8.5% of deaths are caused by electricity, such as touching a power line, misusing a power cord, or electrical shorts.
- Crushing accidents: 5.5% of deaths are caused when someone is caught between two objects and crushed, such as being caught under a falling wall or scaffold.
OSHA regulations for the industry have been specifically tailored to reduce the risks of any of these events occurring. However, many firms encourage workers to ignore these regulations to get things done faster. Unfortunately, that is when accidents, injuries, and deaths happen.
Determining Liability After a Construction Injury
Construction companies must follow OSHA standards to protect everyone in and around a worksite. However, determining liability in an accident is not as simple as naming the primary contractor on the project. Most building projects are collaborations between multiple parties, including engineering and architecture firms, contractors, and the property owner. In addition, these parties may do everything right, and an accident could still occur if equipment or materials fail.
In general, parties that may be found liable for construction injuries include:
- The general contractor responsible for the project as a whole
- Subcontractors, such as electricians, plumbers, and other specialists hired by the general contractor
- Engineering and architecture firms if the accident was the result of a poorly designed structure
- The owner of the property if they failed to disclose important information about the site or refused to follow instructions regarding safety on site
- Equipment and supplies manufacturers if an accident is caused by a defective machine or material
All of these parties are responsible for the safety of everyone on the worksite. If they do not take basic precautions, they could cause serious injuries.
The Importance of Negligence in Construction Accident Lawsuits
This raises an important question: how do courts determine whether any of the parties named above are liable for a specific accident? In most cases, liability is assigned based on negligence. When a party is negligent, it fails to take reasonable precautions to prevent injury and is therefore considered responsible for the losses suffered because of its action or inaction.
For a party to be assigned liability due to negligence, the incident must meet four criteria:
- There was a duty of care. This is the responsibility to act in a way that any reasonable person would do to avoid harm. For construction firms, this includes following OSHA regulations and building codes.
- The party failed to perform that duty. Acting in violation of or failing to act in accordance with OSHA regulations and building codes is typically considered a breach of a duty of care.
- The victim suffered a loss. The victim only has a tort if they have suffered an identifiable loss, such as an injury that incurred medical expenses or the inability to go to work.
- The loss was specifically caused by the party’s failure. The victim must be able to demonstrate that their loss was caused by the other party or there is no tort.
Suppose a construction company does not require a visitor to wear a hard hat in an area where falling objects are a risk. This is a breach of its duty of care. If the visitor then suffers a concussion after being hit in the head on-site, the company is likely liable for the injury.
However, if they are not injured on-site, the company is not liable for any concussions the visitor suffered elsewhere. Similarly, if the company provides appropriate safety equipment but the visitor is concussed anyway because they removed the hard hat, the company may not be liable because it fulfilled its duty of care.
Getting Help with Your Construction Site Accident Claim
Construction site accidents are all too common. All it takes to cause a life-changing accident is one person’s negligence when managing the site or setting up safety equipment. If you have been injured on a construction site, you may have grounds to take legal action. At Fiore Achermann, our proven California construction accident attorneys can help you pursue compensation for your injuries. We can help you determine construction injury liability and file a claim against the correct parties. Learn more by scheduling your consultation with our personal injury law firm today.