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Legal Liability for Construction Site Accidents

Liab5

Construction site accidents are rampant in the construction industry.  In addition to its frequency, the politics of liability can turn complex given the many parties involved on a construction site and the legal implications that can arise depending on the standard of care expected from the party.  On any traditional, larger-scale construction site, there are three kinds of parties present who have similar, but varying standards of legal care for the purposes of accident liability.

Contractor Liability

The contractor-employer may possess the greatest standard of care on the construction site. In the area of accident liability, the standard of care dictates the outcome of the case and where liability falls. Generally speaking, the standard of care is the degree of care that a reasonable person should exercise under the circumstances. Failure to meet the standard of care may result in liability.  The contractor usually possesses a standard of care similar to that of a traditional employer. In addition to that standard of care, they are required to provide a safe and healthy worksite for its workers and third parties who come into contact with the site. The standard also requires that the contractor eliminates all foreseeable dangers. Should a worker or a third party experience an injury, the contractor will be the first line of inquiry.

Worker Liability

The liability of the worker is aligned with two factors.  First, it is aligned with whether the action causing injury was done within the course of business.  Actions conducted by a worker under the normal course of business will implicate the general contractor for the purposes of liability. Actions conducted by the worker that is done outside of the normal activities of work or one that is wholly reckless, negligent or criminal in nature will not implicate the liability of the contractor.  Secondly, it is important to determine whether a worker is an employee of the contractor or under a subcontract.  That is because in some instances, the subcontractor will share similar liabilities with a contractor depending on the terms of the subcontract and other circumstances.  Depending on the answers to these questions, the worker can be directly liable for injury caused in his or her personal capacity.

Third Party Liability  

Third party liability for injury or accident on a construction site is a bit more novel than liability that is assigned to a worker, subcontractor, or general contractor.   Here, a third party is defined as an outside entity not aligned with any of the parties previously mentioned.  Therefore, third party liability for accident or loss has to be extreme such that it does not implicate any action or inaction by the general contractor.  A criminal act or injurious act performed by a passerby in a vehicle is one such example.  The reason why this type of liability is rare is because most accidents occurring on the construction site will implicate the contractor given the contractor’s duty of care.

Let Us Help You Today with Your Case

Brendan A. Sweeney is a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale construction lawyer with years of experience advising on contractor standard of care as well as accident liability. We are highly experienced in this area and are ready to guide you through contracting around liabilities and any litigation that may result. Contact us now for a consultation.

Resource:

law.cornell.edu/wex/standard_of_care

https://www.sweeneylawpa.com/an-overview-of-construction-contract-warranties/

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