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Construction sites are busy places with multitudes of workers doing many different jobs all in an effort to finish the project at hand. They are organizationally complex and can involve multiple employers. What happens when one of the workers is hurt on the job? Who is liable for their injuries? Liability in a construction accident is a complicated issue.
Potentially liable parties can include everyone from the owner of the land where construction is taking place to the architects and engineers that design the project and the contractors that carry out the work. There are safety standards that must be upheld in all facets of the work taking place on a construction site. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has extensive regulations governing the safety of workers, but there are also state guidelines and the safety rules of the contractor itself. Typically, whoever is overseeing the day to day operations carries the most responsibility when things go wrong, but multiple parties can be held accountable if more than one party has demonstrated negligence.
Landowner – The degree to which a property owner can be held liable for injuries that occur there depends on how much control over the land they maintain during construction. For instance, they may have ceded most of it to the contractor when work begins. The landowner may be liable for any injuries resulting from existing hazardous conditions that they should have known about within reason. If the hazards were created by work being done, then it is likely the landowner could not have known about them and their liability is reduced.
Architects and Engineers – The people who design the project have the responsibility to meet safety standards during design and construction phases. Depending on the contract they have signed with the owner of the site, they may also be required to observe the progress of the project to ensure it is proceeding according to plan and in compliance with standards. They may be held accountable for injuries suffered by construction workers.
General Contractors and Sub Contractors – Both of these parties are responsible for the safety of the construction site and complying with applicable safety regulations. It is their duty to warn of any onsite dangers or hazards. They must also hire competent workers that will not jeopardize the safety of those around them.
Prime Contractors – Specific jobs are sometimes hired out to prime contractors who are only responsible for the work identified in their prime contract and the safety conditions related to that work.
Manufacturers of Construction Equipment – When a construction injury is due to a defect in machinery, tools or equipment that was being used properly, the manufacturer may be liable for any injuries caused by their product. The equipment could have a design flaw, or a flaw that occurred in the manufacturing of the product.
Liability in a construction accident is not easily determined. If you are seeking compensation for a construction accident injury and have questions, contact an experienced Wilmington construction accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow. We offer dedicated and personalized service and can help you with any legal matter from Workers’ Compensation to product liability. Call 302-427-9500 to schedule a case review at no charge to you, or contact us online. Rhoades & Morrow proudly serves clients in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford and throughout the state of Delaware.