Construction sites can be dangerous. Even small mistakes can end up causing serious, long-term injuries. Because construction often occurs in heavily populated locations, injuries that reach outside the construction zone are not uncommon. Both workers and pedestrians are often at risk.
Falling debris is a unique hazard of a construction zone. When it occurs, construction companies are often legally liable for the resulting damage.
Legal Liability After Being Hurt at a Construction Site
The construction company that has control of the site is also responsible for keeping the site safe for their workers, contractor workers, and anyone else near the site. Most injuries to workers at the site will be addressed by workers’ compensation. However, pedestrians do not have the same option. They must assert a personal injury claim against the construction company. A personal injury case involves proving the following factors:
- The construction company had a duty to keep the construction site safe
- The company breached that duty
- The breach caused harm
- The harm resulted in compensable damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering
There is always someone responsible for the safety of a construction site. It is usually the general contractor, but not always. The owner of the property may also have a role in keeping the area safe as well. Other subcontractors are also generally obligated to keep their zones or work sites safe too. Usually, someone has been designated by contract to keep the area safe, and the general contractor, subcontractor, and owner may need to determine responsibilities among themselves.
Keeping the construction site safe often involves following state and federal regulations about barricading and warnings. National standards are fairly specific about the obligations required to maintain the site, and a violation of any of these requirements can lead to legal liability.
Mistakes Can Lead to Injuries at Construction Sites
Errors in the construction zone are usually the cause of injuries at construction sites. Some of the most common mistakes are listed below.
- Insufficient barricades. Most construction sites require that workers use hard hats and other protective gear. Of course, pedestrians that pass by do not have this obligation. If a pedestrian comes close enough to the site that something could fall and harm him or her, it may be because the construction company failed to use proper barricading to protect pedestrians.
- Improper Warnings or Signs. Other people need to be warned of the construction area so that they know to stay away or take extra precautions near the site. Virtually every construction site should have signs that provide warnings to pedestrians and workers alike.
- Failing to secure tools or equipment. To avoid injuries from falling debris, workers should secure tools so that they do not fall from heights and harm those below. Maintaining control of equipment at all times is also important.
- Failure to maintain or inspect equipment. Proper maintenance of equipment can prevent many injuries. Cords, hooks, and other devices should be checked to ensure that they are stable and can do the job that they are intended to do. Inspection for wear and tear is critical to prevent injuries.