Construction sites are hotbeds of hazardous activity, with a constant movement of workers, heavy machinery, equipment, and materials. Accidents can happen even with strict safety protocols, leaving individuals to deal with difficult injuries and the financial burdens that follow.
If you’re an employee on a construction site, your injuries could be covered by a workers’ compensation claim. But workers’ compensation only applies to accidents that could not have been prevented. If your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, then you could have a much bigger personal injury claim for damages against the people responsible.
Construction sites are heavily regulated by federal, state, and local laws and regulations. When construction companies fail to follow these legal standards, people can get seriously injured. And if negligent companies make a habit of skirting safety standards, they could be held accountable for their carelessness with punitive damages.
In addition, not everyone who gets injured in a construction accident is an employee with workers’ compensation benefits. You could be a third-party contractor or even a bystander with no connection at all to the construction activities. If you get injured because of negligence on a construction site, you could have grounds to sue for your losses.
Negligence on Construction Sites
Some injuries are truly accidents – no one could have foreseen the situation or taken steps to prevent it. But other injuries are preventable. In fact, there are laws in place to prevent these injuries from happening. Construction companies have a legal obligation to take steps to prevent accidents that can be avoided with proper safety measures.
What does construction site negligence look like? Every case is different based on the unique circumstances involved, but below are some common examples:
- A construction company fails to perform regular inspections and maintenance on the scaffolding they use at a building site. over time, the scaffolding becomes weak and unstable, but the company continues to use it without addressing the issues. the scaffolding collapses while several workers are performing tasks on it. They suffer serious injuries such as broken bones, concussions, and spinal injuries. The scaffolding collapses above two pedestrians who suffer cuts and traumatic brain injuries.
- A contractor on a construction site fails to provide the proper safety training to new employees. One of the new, inexperienced workers operates a crane improperly, causing heavy materials to collide with another construction vehicle on the site. The workers in the vehicle suffer severe crush injuries and internal bleeding.
- A demolition crew does not adequately secure debris and other construction materials at a site, leaving them scattered and unattended on the ground. They also fail to set up any warning signs or safety barriers around these hazards. A passerby walking near the construction site gets hit on the head when a piece of debris dislodges and falls.
- A construction company continues to use heavy equipment that they know is defective rather than repairing or replacing it. The equipment malfunctions while being operated, causing severe crush injuries and fractures to nearby employees.
- The third-party contractor responsible for putting up guardrails uses half of the materials necessary to actually secure construction areas from falls. Another contractor working on an elevated platform falls when the guardrails fail and give way. They suffer from multiple fractures and internal injuries as a result of the fall.
- A construction supervisor ignores severe weather warnings and allows workers to continue working during a thunderstorm with strong winds. The crew does not evacuate or take precautions, so when lightning strikes a crane on site the resulting electrical surge causes severe burns and injuries to several nearby workers.
In all of these examples, someone had a legal responsibility that they failed to live up to.
Not only must construction companies fix or warn against known hazardous conditions on their sites, but they must also actively inspect construction sites for hazardous conditions. It’s not a defense if a company didn’t know about a safety hazard when it’s their responsibility to find out.
Construction companies, contractors, supervisors, managers, and workers must prioritize safety, perform regular inspections, provide the proper training, and abide by safety regulations to avoid these types of incidents and ensure the well-being of all workers, visitors, and bystanders.
Who Can Sue for a Construction Site Accident?
Can a bystander sue in a construction accident? Yes – construction site negligence can affect you whether you’re an employee or not. Construction sites are dangerous specifically because their hazards can go beyond the boundaries of the site to nearby people and buildings.
Even employees could file a lawsuit if they get injured on the job but the injury was caused by negligence. Workers’ compensation claims only apply if your work injuries happened as part of your regular job duties, without any negligence involved. When negligence is a part of the picture, that takes legal responsibility to another level.
Whether you were walking by the construction site or were inside a nearby building when the accident occurred, you could file a personal injury lawsuit to get compensation for your injuries. An experienced construction accident attorney can help you understand your rights.
How Long Do You Have to Sue After a Construction Accident?
California’s statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is 2 years. That means you only have 2 years from the date of your construction accident to file a legal claim.
What Are Punitive Damages in Construction Cases?
Most damages in construction accident cases are meant to compensate you for any losses related to your injuries, including medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
However, sometimes when you file a personal injury lawsuit, you can get punitive damages that are meant to punish the person responsible for their especially careless, intentional, or reckless behavior. Punitive damages might apply to construction accident cases if the people responsible failed to fix the hazard even after multiple people got injured, if they tried to cover up their wrongdoing, or failed to make any effort at all to ensure safety.
Your lawyer can help you determine whether you have a case and whether punitive damages would be appropriate in your case. At Sepulveda Sanchez Law, we can help. Contact us now for your free consultation – we work on a contingency fee basis so you don’t pay us unless we win.