If you have been injured in a construction injury, you may be searching for answers regarding your legal options. Your injury may have been a result of negligence in the workplace. We discuss negligence on construction sites and what you can do if you are negligently injured.
Important Factors in Determining Negligence in Construction
If you have been injured in a construction accident, you may be wondering how to prove negligence in your case. Negligence could be involved in your accident in many different ways. Examples of construction negligence could include:
- Poor instructions from your superior that place you in an unsafe situation
- Unsafe or run-down tools and equipment
- Equipment or vehicle malfunction
- Unsafe working conditions
- Insufficient training for a hazardous environment
- Unsafe, untrained, or unaware coworkers
Regardless of the exact type of negligence that contributed to your injury, there are two elements you must prove for a court to find negligence in your case. You must show that you were owed a duty of care and a breach of contract.
Duty of Care
Duty of care can vary depending on your relationship with others. For example, people who have no ties to one another still owe a reasonable level of care to avoid hurting anyone else, regardless of whether a relationship links them. Certain types of conduct may be considered legally reasonable among strangers but negligent among people with specific relationships.
For example, lifeguards owe a duty of care to people within the area they are guarding. If someone were to show signs of drowning, they owe that person a duty to reasonably try to rescue them. However, a stranger who lacks the specialty skills and profession of a lifeguard has no such duty of reasonable care placed upon them in a similar scenario.
Breach of Contract
Once you have successfully established a duty of care, you must next prove a breach of contract occurred. Essentially, this means that a party that owed you a duty of care failed to carry out their duty for an inexcusable reason, resulting in a breach of duty or breach of contract.
A few examples of breaches of this standard of care in the construction industry could include:
- Your employer for not providing a safe workplace
- Your coworkers for coming to work intoxicated
- Equipment manufacturers for selling defective products
These are just a few examples of how a breach of contract can occur in a construction context. If you believe you were injured because a party breached their duty to you, you should speak with an experienced attorney for construction professionals.
The Different Types of Negligence in Construction Accidents
There are several types of negligence that can lead to construction accidents, but two common examples include:
- Reckless behavior against safety regulations
- Construction defects and design flaws
Either of these negligent actions can lead to serious negligence concerns. It could even lead to a wide range of hazardous on-site disasters like a building collapse or defective construction that won't pass local building code regulations or safety standards.
Reckless Behavior Against Safety Regulations
Reckless conduct, or reckless behavior, is a phrase used by legal professionals to describe a type of negligent behavior in a lawsuit. Reckless conduct implies that the party was aware — or should have been aware — that their actions would harm another person, yet they still chose to act.
The term reckless refers to the party's state of mind when the injury occurred.
Generally, you must demonstrate the following to earn the mental state of reckless:
- The party intentionally committed the act that contributed to your injury
- They knew or should have known that their actions could injure someone
The behavior in question should also be unreasonable in the context of the action and of a higher standard of risk than standard negligent conduct.
Examples of reckless conduct on a construction site can include:
- Operating heavy machinery while intoxicated
- Your company or landowner did not inform construction workers about hazardous aspects of the location
- Government agencies failing to create a safe working environment on government property, such as state roads
Construction Defects and Design Flaws
Construction defects and design flaws can create a hazardous environment for construction teams. When these defects and flaws are known and not disclosed to construction workers, the party with knowledge has negligently put the construction team at risk.
Although many defects and flaws are minor and inconsequential, some can result in property damage or pose a serious risk of injury to construction professionals working on the site. This is especially true if the defects and flaws are not disclosed to the construction team.
Examples of construction defects and design flaws include previous construction built with poor design, subpar materials, or bad workmanship. These errors can create instability in a building, especially when it later undergoes heavy construction work.
The Potential At-Fault Parties in Construction Negligence
On a construction site, you may be owed a duty of care by any of the following entities:
- Your employer
- Your coworkers
- The landowner who hired you
- The organization renting your company tools and vehicles
- Equipment manufacturers
- The government
When these entities act negligently toward you and fail to provide the duty of care that you are owed via your professional relationship toward them, an injury may result. In these unfortunate cases, these parties can find themselves at fault for your injuries by a court.
Highly qualified construction negligence attorneys can help you determine the potentially liable parties involved in your case. Sometimes more than one party can be liable for your injury.
Experienced Negligence at a Construction Site? Here Are Your Next Steps
If you have been the victim of negligence while working on a construction site, it's essential that you receive the help and support that you deserve. Here is what you should do:
- Take pictures of the injury site. Be sure to photograph any hazardous elements from multiple angles to capture the full danger the hazard posed to you.
- Report your injury to your superior, so a record of the incident exists.
- Receive professional medical care from your local doctor or hospital. Be sure to get a full examination in case you suffer from potentially latent injuries that may appear later.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer well-versed in negligence and construction accidents to discuss the details of your accident, party liability, and legal options.
Getting injured on the job is never fun. However, when negligent parties refuse to take responsibility for contributing to your accident, it can feel like you are running out of options with no one to help you. The Richmond construction accident lawyers at Ratzan, Weissman & Boldt are here to help you through this difficult time. Contact us to discuss your rights, legal options, and the process for filing a negligence claim.