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Determining who is liable in a construction site accident

Construction site accidents not only happen regularly, they can result in serious injury or even death. While workers’ compensation will likely provide certain benefits, there is often a scramble to determine if another party might be liable for what happened.

This isn’t always easy to figure out, but there are a few possibilities to consider.

Third-party contractor or subcontractor

It’s not uncommon for multiple contractors and subcontractors to be working together on the same site. These businesses must provide a safe working environment throughout their time on the job. If they don’t, it can lead to a workplace accident.

If a third-party contractor does something that is negligent – ignoring safety rules, taking shortcuts – and that action causes another person to get injured or killed, that third-party contractor may be found liable. (It’s important to note that if a worker wins personal injury damages from a third-party contractor, it may result in them having to pay back any workers’ compensation payments.)

The tools and equipment

Construction sites are always buzzing with different tools and equipment. If any of these products is defective, and it results in an accident, then someone involved in the production, design or sale of the product might be liable.

  • A product may be faulty because of:
  • A design defect
  • A manufacturing mistake
  • Improper labeling
  • A failure to warn of certain dangers

The worker’s employer or general contractor

While workers’ compensation generally prohibits a worker from filing a lawsuit against their direct employer, there is an exception in New York for elevated work. It is often referred to as the Scaffold Law.

If a worker must be on things such as high scaffolding or a ladder to do their job, that equipment must meet safety standards. If it doesn’t and there is an accident, a worker might be able to sue their direct employer for failing to provide a safe working site, resulting in that business potentially being found liable – whether they are fully at fault or not.

Defending against fault claims

When a construction accident occurs, parties will be quick to point the finger at someone else for being at fault. When this happens, a business may want a lawyer to help defend their case and prove they are not liable.

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