Construction sites are hazardous places for more than just construction workers and contractors. While construction workers face many dangers on the job daily, they have equipment and training to help ensure their safety. By contrast, visitors and bystanders are usually unprepared for the risks they may face on a construction site as they are not expecting them.
Construction companies have policies and systems to ensure their employees have access to fair income and workers' compensation if they suffer injuries on the job. But what happens if the injured party is an innocent bystander who the company doesn't employ?
Like a car accident claim, an injured bystander can file a lawsuit for construction accident injuries caused by negligence.
The liable party can be a:
- A general contractor responsible for the worksite
- A property owner or land developer
- Management Company
- A company that manufactures tools, equipment, or machinery
- Private citizen or another party
After a thorough and timely investigation, a qualified construction accident lawyer can help you identify the party or parties responsible for your injuries and help you recover the financial compensation you deserve. You must contact an attorney and schedule a case review to take this step. The good news is that most personal injury attorneys offer them for free.
Types of Construction Injuries Bystanders Sustain
With construction projects of all types and sizes, negligent behaviors often pose a risk to workers and bystanders.
Some of the most common bystander construction site accidents involve:
- Slip and falls: If a work zone is not improperly maintained, debris, supplies, equipment, and other harmful materials can find their way into public walking areas and cause a slip and fall accident. These objects can also create additional hazards.
- Toxic chemical exposures: Construction sites are common areas for toxic substances. When crews do not follow proper protocols regarding toxins, construction workers and those who happen to be, live, or work in the area are in danger. For example, gas leaks, lead, and other toxic chemicals can spread to water sources or into the air, endangering everyone in the surrounding area.
- Falling objects: Poorly constructed scaffolding decks can cause heavy objects, materials, or unsecured tools to fall. The result is frequently severe injuries, such as traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries.
Thankfully, most of the above accidents are easily preventable. Even still, unfortunately, injuries to bystanders resulting from negligent construction activities are more common than most people might think. If you suffered an injury due to negligence at a construction site, a careful and thorough investigation immediately after your accident is the best and easiest way to build a strong claim.
Who Can File a Lawsuit for Construction Accident Injuries?
An injured individual not employed by the construction company or another company liable for their injuries can file a personal injury lawsuit with the help of a construction accident lawyer.
On the other hand, injured employees need to file a workers' compensation claim. If the claim is denied or not approved for the amount it should be, an attorney can assist them with pursuing compensation for their damages through a personal injury lawsuit.
However, in most states, filing a workers' compensation claim means accessing those benefits instead of filing a legal claim.
If you think you might have a construction accident injury claim or just want someone to review it to provide advice, don't hesitate to speak to an experienced construction accident attorney. If you don't take legal action after your injuries, you can be walking away from the money you need and deserve for them.
Types of Construction Accident Claims
Although these injury claims arise from negligence, they might involve several negligent actions. Construction accidents usually involve one or more of the following:
Premises Liability Construction Accidents
Private and commercial property owners must take the necessary precautions to ensure their premises are safe for visitors or the public. If the property owner knew or should have reasonably known about dangerous or defective conditions on the property that they failed to correct, you can hold them negligent. If those defective conditions caused your injury on the construction site, you can file a premises liability claim.
Negligent Hiring of Construction Site Employees
If a construction property owner didn't perform the necessary background and licensing checks on a contractor or another employee before hiring a construction accident lawyer, they can be liable for negligent hiring in certain circumstances.
For example, suppose a contractor didn't ensure proper coverings were in place to prevent falling objects from hitting pedestrians, and you got hit by a wrench that fell. While the contractor was negligent in this situation, your lawyer may also determine that the contractor no longer has a valid and current license and has a known history of cutting corners on safety.
This means the property owner who hired the contractor may also be negligent and liable for your losses. A reasonable owner wouldn't have hired an unlicensed contractor with a questionable past.
Another example will be if the contractor or property owner continues to allow someone they hired to remain on the job even though they are showing obvious signs of being unfit for the position—such as being unaware of how to operate equipment safely or showing up to work intoxicated.
Negligent Supervision on the Site
If a construction accident occurs because of inadequate supervision from those in charge, you can file a lawsuit for negligent supervision. For instance, an absentee general contractor might run the project from afar when they should always properly supervise unlicensed laborers' work. In that case, you may have a legal claim under the theory of negligent supervision if the unsupervised actions of a worker caused your injuries.
Product Liability Incidents
If your injuries occurred due to a piece of dangerous or faulty equipment or machinery, you may have a valid product liability case against its manufacturer. For instance, if the brakes on a brand-new forklift overheated and malfunctioned, causing it to plow across a parking lot hitting you while walking out to your car, the manufacturer will be responsible under strict liability laws for your damages.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a legally imposed deadline to file a claim. Each state has the right to determine the statute of limitations for various legal remedies. Typically, the statute of limitations for personal injuries is around two years from the date of the injury or the date you learned or reasonably should have known about your injury.
However, if you file a claim against the government, you may face a far shorter deadline. Speak to a construction accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident so you don't risk losing your compensation simply by not adhering to a crucial deadline.
No matter the type of claim you intend to file, an attorney can help ensure you don't miss this imperative deadline.
Types of Construction Injuries
Construction accidents can cause a variety of injuries, many of them serious, including:
- Bone fractures
- Knee and ankle injuries
- Neck, shoulder, or back injuries
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI), including damage that can cause paraplegia or quadriplegia
- Illnesses caused by toxic chemical exposure
- Eye injury leading to vision impairment or blindness
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Crushed or otherwise injured limbs that require amputation
- Deep cuts or lacerations
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Some construction accident injuries may be catastrophic and can cause life-altering disabilities like paralysis, loss of a limb, or loss of cognitive abilities. Survivors with severe injuries may face years or even a lifetime of medical care, medications, physical therapy, surgeries, and other measures to return to even a tiny segment of their former ability to function, costing astronomical amounts.
They may no longer work or return to their previous employment. They deserve compensation for all of these types of damages.
Duty of Care
Did the one party owe the injured party a legal duty of care? Sometimes the nature of the relationship between two parties creates a legal duty, or one party might owe the injured party a legal duty to act with reasonable care under specific circumstances – for instance, a construction worker should operate equipment safely using a certain level of due care.
Breach of Duty
If one party owed the injured party a duty of care, the next question is did that party violate or breach their duty of care? A duty is breached by doing (or not doing) something that a reasonably prudent person will do in a similar situation.
Reasonably prudent person means how the average person will responsibly act under certain circumstances. For instance, an average person will use proper care when setting up scaffolding on a construction site.
Causation or Cause in Fact
Next, the injured party must prove that the other party's negligence caused their injury. The other party's negligence and injury must be connected somehow. Otherwise, the other party won't be liable for their injuries.
Another part of the causation element examines whether the at-fault party can reasonably have foreseen that their actions or inactions can cause an injury. Suppose the injured party's actions somehow resulted in injury through a random, unexpected act of nature. In that case, the injury will most likely be unforeseeable, making the uninjured party unlikely to be liable.
The final element in a negligence injury claim is damages. This element requires that the jury or judge can legally compensate the injured party for their injury. Compensation typically involves the payment of expenses such as medical care, property repair, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Depending on the case, other compensable damages might include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish, including depression and anxiety
- Loss of consortium
What to Do if You Suffered Injuries in a Construction Accident?
If you were involved in a construction accident, seek medical attention immediately. Even if you don't experience any symptoms right away, problems can still develop, and you can still have serious invisible injuries.
For example, concussion symptoms can take days to develop, and internal injuries don't always cause immediately noticeable problems. Both conditions can kill you without the proper treatment.
Therefore, always seek care and receive a diagnosis from a medical professional if you feel anything out of the ordinary. Doing so will also help ensure you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Document as many details about the accident as possible. Write down the construction company's name, the accident's location, and who was involved. Having their contact details can be extremely helpful if there are witnesses (possibly nearby workers, drivers, or pedestrians).
Your construction accident lawyer can use these details when building your accident claim. Photographs and videos of the scene to record crucial information can also be beneficial, even if you have to go back or send someone back to take them at a later date.
Finally, don't wait to exercise your legal rights. Instead, contact an experienced construction accident injury attorney as soon as possible to ensure all liable parties are held accountable. A thorough investigation that involves gathering and preserving evidence will likely give rise to a stronger claim.
Most importantly, talk to an attorney immediately to file your injury claim before you miss any necessary deadlines. Remember that you must bring your claim by the required deadlines to recover the compensation you deserve. Don't hesitate to schedule a case review with a skilled personal injury attorney in San Antonio today if you were a bystander injured in an accident. You always want to properly exercise your legal rights to compensation.