Brien Roche frequently handles construction accidents involving significant personal injuries. Having a lawyer who is experienced in handling construction accidents is critical.
If you think you have a case involving a recent construction accident, call or contact us for a free consultation.
Owners, custodians and contractors of construction sites have an obligation to keep the work site safe. If there is an accident, in some cases a worker will be able to bring a claim against the owner, the general contractor or subcontractor in addition to a workers compensation claim. It is important to consult a construction accident lawyer with expertise in this area of the law to ensure that your rights are fully protected.
Brien Roche is an experienced construction accident lawyer serving all of Northern Virginia, including:
Fairfax area Construction workers are in an occupation where the potential for severe and violent accidents is common. Some of the most catastrophic forms of injury and death occur as a result of: falls from roofs, crane and heavy equipment accidents, scaffolding collapses, structural cave-ins, electrocution, fires and explosions, compressed and natural gas explosions and welding accidents.
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In order to receive compensation for injuries beyond what workers compensation affords an injured worker, negligence must be found as to a third-party i.e., the manufacturer of construction equipment that contributed to the injury or the general or subcontractors. By working closely with a knowledgeable attorney, federal and state regulations governing the safety of construction sites and the duties incumbent on property owners and contractors to provide an environment designed to prevent injury, can be fully explored.
The governmental agency that is charged with investigating construction accidents is known as OSHA. As a general rule, the OSHA investigative report of a construction accident can be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. These investigative reports are important because not only may they disclose the details of the accident but they may also disclose who is in fact in control of the construction site. That control may be governed by the contracts between the companies working on the site or it may be governed by other manuals or agreements that are in place in regards to the construction site. The issue of control becomes critical because that may well govern who can be sued in regards to the injury in question. Virginia has some very restrictive rules as far as the ability to sue other contractors on a job site. As such if you are an employee of a general or a sub and you are injured on the jobsite as a result of the negligence of another subcontractor or the general, your right to sue may be foreclosed. Whether or not that rule applies to your case requires a detailed analysis of certain issues.
Construction accident cases involve a number of peculiarities. The most significant one is identifying the proper defendants. Those proper defendants may be the property owner, the general contractor, the subcontractor, the construction manager or the developer.
One way to identify the responsible parties is to get all permits for the project from the local government agency.
Once the potentially responsible parties have been identified, review 29 CFR 1910, which deals with general workplace requirements and also 29 CFR 1926, which deals with specific requirements for the construction industry.
As part of the discovery process in construction accident cases, it is critical that you gather all contracts, all safety manuals, all safety plans for the project, all minutes of any construction safety meetings, all progress reports dealing with the job, any citations from OSHA, any photos showing the job site in various stages, any and all accident reports, and any and all diaries kept by superintendents or engineers on the site.
Construction accident cases frequently involve an underlying worker’s compensation claim and therefore it will be important to obtain that entire file as the worker’s comp carrier may have done an exhaustive investigation.If you are representing the employee in the worker’s comp claim the carrier may be receptive to your overtures for assistance with the understanding you will protect their subrogation lien as to any recovery. It should be clarified with the carrier upfront what responsibility they may have in fronting any of the expenses of litigation.Those could well be substantial in terms of expert witness fees.
Construction accident litigation typically involves a claim of an injured worker against the contractor on a job site. Most states have an absolute bar against claims against direct employers. Some states allow claims against the direct employer in circumstances where the employer’s conduct was intentional and the likelihood of injury was substantially certain.
In some instances however the claim against the non-employer entity is complicated by the fact that OSHA has cited the Plaintiff’s direct employer for some safety violation. Where that is the case, then the Defendant in this litigation may attempt to point to the empty chair and argue that the accident was in fact caused by the Plaintiff’s direct employer. Although the relevance of that contention may be questionable it may potentially be admissible on the issue of causation even if not admissible on the issue of negligence.
In those instances where the employer has been charged with an OSHA violation, there are certain things that can be done to defeat the citation:
Several things that need to be accomplished as part of an investigation of these cases by a construction accident lawyer are the following:
1. Make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request to OSHA.
2. Determine whether or not the general contractor has any control over the work at issue. If so then Section 414 of the Second Restatement of Torts and Section 424 may have some application.
3. Determine whether or not the contract imposes any general duty on the general contractor to train workers and otherwise supervise the subcontractors.
4. Obtain all post incident documents wherein the general contractor and any involved parties may attempt to determine what is the root cause of the injury.
A recent article in the Trial Lawyers magazine reports of 3,945 workplace deaths in 2012, 20% of them were construction accidents.
Much of the equipment used on construction sites is rental equipment. This rental equipment can frequently fail. Failing to provide equipment in proper condition and then renting it to unfamiliar operators can be catastrophic.
When a company rents equipment, it is required to rent it in the condition that the manufacturer specifies in the owner’s and operator’s manual or the service manual.
Frequent causes of these types of construction accidents are:
Frequently this construction equipment comes with an operator. In that instance where the operator injures an employee of the customer, frequently the renting company will claim that the injury was caused by a fellow employee and therefore may be barred by workers’ compensation. That is an issue that can vary from state to state.
Some critical documents that need to be obtained in the course of investigating a case like this are such things as the owner’s and operator’s manual, the rental company’s internal standards and practices, any proof of training that was provided by the rental company, the level of training of the rental company’s own operators and the overall qualifications of the customer-approved operator.
For more information about construction accidents see the pages on Wikipedia.
Another factor to be considered in looking at a construction accident claim is whether or not there may be some basis for a product liability claim. For instance, if the worker was injured as a result of a defective hand tool then that may be the basis for a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the tool.
Finally, these cases must be looked at from a premises liability point of view. If the client is a deliveryman who is injured on the premises of a third party due to some defective condition then the owner/manager of those premises may be liable
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If you have a question for a construction accident lawyer contact us for assistance and advice.