Third Party Liability for Construction Site Injuries
Construction work is certainly one of the most dangerous jobs around today. With injury as a constant possibility, employers and contractors must ensure that they have protocol and practices in place to lessen the likelihood of injury. Federal laws under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration provide guidelines and regulate safety in the construction industry. There are numerous other state and local agencies that also facilitate the same aim.
Construction workers who are injured on the job are almost always covered by workers’ compensation plans. Other insurance plans cover the injuries of passersby and others who are unrelated to a given construction project. The dynamic gets sticky when a third party is at fault for an injury.
The Rights and Obligations of Third Parties
Employers have the least control over injuries caused by third parties. That is because one cannot wholly foresee this type of injury occurring. To gain a better understanding of the third party dynamic in construction injury, it is important to define one key term. In the construction context, a third party is an entity that is not a principal party to the construction agreement. The manufacturer of construction equipment is considered a third party. A third party is also the engineer who designed the electrical functions of the building. Subcontractors may also qualify as third parties as well as individuals who cause vehicle accidents on construction sites.
Examples of Third Party-Caused Injury
- The electrical engineer who designed the electrical system in a building chose a type of wiring in the specifications that is not suitable for the system being built. The wire subsequently causes the electrocution of a worker.
- In a neighborhood where a new home is being built, the driver of a private vehicle negligently hits a construction worker while driving on a common roadway. The accident occurs even with visible ‘caution’ and ‘slow down’ markers.
- A subcontractor is hired for one day to fumigate an older building that is being renovated. The subcontractor negligently selects a chemical product for use in the fumigation. The workers who ingest the product have an adverse reaction as a result.
Tort Law Analysis of Third Party Liability
A court engaging in a tort analysis for the scenarios above will consider many factors. The court will first determine whether the party in question is a true third party. In other words, the court will determine whether the party is directly tied to the bilateral construction contract where liability arises out of contractual duties. The court will then determine whether there is any fault on the part of the contractor or its workers. Florida operates under a pure comparative negligence regime when it comes to sharing fault. This means that the court will lessen the injured party’s (i.e., the construction worker) award amount for any fault that is attributable to them. The court will also look into the negligence of the third party. How egregious was it? Does it call for punitive damages? The court will also determine whether there are any other tangential third parties who are potentially liable.
Fort Lauderdale Construction Attorney
Brendan A. Sweeney is an experienced construction injury attorney who will provide you with invaluable advice and help you navigate your construction-based legal issue. You need an attorney who will tirelessly defend you and understands the complexities of Florida’s construction injury liability laws. Contact us for your legal assessment today.