Who is Liable for Construction Site Injuries?
The lawyers of The Orlow Firm have helped individuals who have been injured in forklift, crane and elevator accidents, and other accidents, on construction sites in New York. When you retain our services, you can rely on our effective representation, personal client service and focus on results. We are dedicated to helping each client recover maximum compensation for their injuries.
There are many different parties who may be liable when a construction worker suffers an on-the-job injury, including the property owner, the general contractor, sub-contractors, architects or other designers, engineers, construction managers and suppliers of equipment and materials. The number of potential liable parties depends on how large and sophisticated the project is. While many construction projects are based on general contract relationships (where a general contractor retained by the site owner enters into agreements with sub-contractors as needs require), larger projects are increasingly being handled by “construction management” organizations.
If you or your loved one has suffered injuries as the result of a construction accident, take steps to preserve your legal rights by speaking with an attorney about your case as soon as possible. Contact The Orlow Firm in Flushing, NY, today to schedule a consultation with a lawyer experienced in construction accident and injury litigation to discuss your options.
Potential liable parties in construction accident cases
To determine who may be liable for injuries resulting from a construction accident, it is helpful to take a close look at the duties and legal responsibilities of individuals who may be involved in the construction project at issue:
- Construction site property owners — Generally, landowners have a duty to keep and maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. If someone is injured on their property, landowners will be liable if they knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. Whether or not the property owner of the construction site will be liable for any injuries depends on the amount of control over the property exercised by the property owner. If the landowner turned over control of the premises to an independent contractor, the landowner may not be liable for a construction worker’s injuries.
- General contractors and sub-contractors — Both the general contractor and sub-contractor must provide workers a construction site that is reasonably safe. General and sub-contractors also have a legal duty to warn of any defects or hazards at the site as well as any hazards inherent in the work being performed. Typically, a general contractor or sub-contractor will have a duty to make sure that, to the extent they have been delegated control over a portion of the work being performed at a construction site, work is being performed safely. This duty extends to the hiring of reasonably competent employees, and ensuring compliance with safety regulations.
- “Prime” contractors — Prime contractors share similarities with both general and sub-contractors, depending on the specific construction project at issue. While a general contractor has responsibility for the entire project, a prime contractor is responsible only for the work that is identified in his or her prime contract. A prime contractor also is responsible for any work that he or she chooses to delegate to sub-contractors, and has exclusive responsibility over those sub-contractors, including as to payment and work quality.
- Architects and engineers — These design professionals can be charged with differing amounts of responsibility for a construction project, and often the way to determine the extent of that responsibility is to look to the design professional’s contract with the site owner. Duties can include progress observation to ensure compliance with plans and specifications, and site inspection to ensure compliance with code regulations. Aside from any duty specifically identified in the relevant construction contract, these design professionals are held to certain accepted standards in performing professional services during the design and/or construction phases of the project. An architect or engineer can be held liable for any injuries suffered by construction workers as a result of their failure to meet those standards.
- Manufacturers of construction machinery or equipment — Manufacturers of defective construction machinery or equipment can be held liable for the design and manufacture (and in some instances maintenance) of that equipment. The legal principles that place liability on a manufacturer or designer of a defective product apply to construction machinery and equipment, including the concept of “no-fault” or “strict” liability. In products liability law, manufacturers have a duty to design products that are reasonably safe for their intended and foreseeable use.
- Insurers — Especially in situations involving major construction projects, the parties involved will be required to carry adequate insurance coverage. For example, the owner or property manager may be required to carry premises or property liability insurance; and the general and/or sub-contractor may need workers’ compensation, commercial general liability insurance and employer’s liability insurance. The insurance coverage of each party involved in a construction project, and the extent of that coverage, are important issues when assessing legal responsibility for a construction injury.
Contact a construction accident attorney
If you have been injured in a construction site accident, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Contact The Orlow Firm in Flushing today to schedule a consultation with an attorney experienced in handling NY construction site injury cases.
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