With approximately 6.5 million Americans working in the construction industry, it is no surprise that construction accidents occur and lead to personal injury lawsuits. Unfortunately those injuries can sometimes be very, very serious and that is no surprise to you, I’m sure.
Many of the injuries come about because there is inadequate fall protection for the workers. There are entities who are responsible to ensure that there would be appropriate fall protection. Construction accident lawyers focus on the general contractor, the entity who was charged with superintending and overseeing the construction project. Now I am speaking about workers, but I want to point out again, as I have in past blogs, that bystanders or third parties who are not part of the construction work can also bring suit if they should be a passerby and get hurt. These cases exist but today those passersby aren’t my focus. Rather, the workers on the construction site are the plaintiffs about whom I am talking.
The injured worker is usually somebody who was employed by a subcontractor on a large renovation or building construction. Many of you are aware that that person cannot sue his or her employer in tort. Instead, they get workers’ compensation. However, they have a tort claim, a so-called third party claim, against the general contractor or another subcontractor who is not their employer. In Massachusetts, I am happy to report, that the obligation on the general contractor is a non-delegable duty of safety and there are many different sources or reasons for that.
Number one, the contract between the owner and the general contractor typically establishes that the general contractor must comply with all safety regulations, rules, laws and ordinances and failure to do so is a violation of that contractual provision. There are also OSHA regulations and there are also state regulations. The state regulations are listed in what is termed The Code of Massachusetts Regulations. (See especially 780 CMR and 454 CMR, though the later is of unclear applicability at this time.) They, like the OSHA regulations, impose specific requirements for the construction industry and for safety on a job site. They are quite direct and quite explicit. For example, the OSHA regulations, and in particular s. 1926, will tell you very much what is expected of a general contractor. Other sources to draw upon to establish that responsibility or establish liability include: the contracts, the permits, and other documents on file. Of course you will hire experts as well. Some might be very OSHA-type specific experts and some may just have familiarity with what good and safe construction practice is.
These are involved cases where the stakes are high because of the grave injuries. They can include enormous amounts of documents. Fortunately, there are many sources in which a careful and diligent plaintiff’s lawyer can find liability. There should be minutes of what has gone on in the construction process. The attorney will look for meetings, the site specific safety plans, and safety manuals. All of these exist in addition to the contract that I spoke about, a contract that will impose certain duties on the general contractor. Aside from the OSHA regulations, and OSHA is an entity with whom we are all familiar, there are those Commonwealth of Massachusetts Regulations, 780 CMR and 454 CMR.
780 CMR 107.6.3 is particularly helpful in the case against the general contractor for it says as to its responsibility it is to “Execut[e] and control of all methods of construction in a safe and satisfactory manner in accordance with all applicable local, state and federal statutes and regulations.” This exists in addition to its obligation in accordance with the contracts. Many of those contracts incorporate something known as the A1A contract and that creates a wealth of safety obligations.
Insurance companies for the general contractors have their favorite defenses. In the normal set of facts -to the extent that can ever be the case- those defenses should not allow them to escape their duty of safety. They can’t “palm off” the duty, it is non-delegable under the law, and any blind eye they turn to safety violations should create a liability situation for them.
The attorneys serve the entire state of Massachusetts in addition to affiliating with lawyers in other states to handle cases outside of Massachusetts.
Boston Attorneys Win Highest Injury Verdict in Massachusetts in 2011 & 2012.