Who's Liable for Construction Injuries?
Depending on the size of the construction project, there can be numberous parties responsible for a loss. The responsible parties can be the site owners, landowner, designers, engineering professionals, independant contractors, general contractors, sub-contractors, construction managers, equipment failures and material suppliers. The type of systems in place for safety will be an important consideration in assessing the potential liability of the various individuals involved in the project, especially as to the site owner's liability. Larger construction projects typically involve a great deal of delegation of both work and legal responsibility: from site owner to general contractor; general contractor to "prime" or sub-contractor; and in some cases, "prime" contractor to sub-contractor. Generally, in assessing liability for injuries at a construction site, the main determinations are the extent of a potential party's control over the premises on which the work is being done, and the degree of their control over the work itself. If you or your loved one has suffered injuries or a wrongful death as the result of a construction accident call our Law Firm at 1-800-862-1260.
To determine whos liable, it will help to take a close look at the duties and responsibilities of the following:
- Property Owner
Landowner liability will turn on the degree of control over the premises, as compared to control over the work itself. With this in mind, the owner or possessor of the land on which a construction project is being performed is liable for any injury to individuals (called business "invitees") involved in the project, caused by a potentially harmful condition on the land that the owner knew or should reasonably have known about. This duty does not extend to potentially dangerous conditions that should be obvious to the invitees, and the duty can be eliminated or lessened depending on the independent contractor's knowledge and corresponding duties.
- General Contractors and Sub-Contractors
Both the general and sub-contractor must provide workers a construction site that is reasonably safe, and they have a legal duty to warn of any defects or hazards at the site. Typically, a general or sub-contractor will have a duty to make sure that 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 is also responsible for any work that he or she chooses to delegate to sub-contractors.
- Architects and Engineers
These professionals can be charged with differing amounts of responsibility. Often the best 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. 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.
- Manufacturers of Construction Machinery or Equipment
Manufacturers of defective construction machinery or equipment can be held liable for the design and manufacturing (and in some instances maintaining) of that equipment.