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Why Construction Accidents Occur


Before we begin a little background: I have been asked what you can and cannot say at a deposition. New lawyers are always told in trial preparation classes to never say “this is the last question.” The reason why is because, invariably, it isn’t. There’s almost always another question that occurs to a lawyer. The lawyer will want to ask the question despite having already said that they had finished their questions. This is the case here with the numerous blogs that I have done on construction site accidents. I had said that my last blog would be the last one, but I can’t resist adding another. I truly think that this subject is important in rounding out the construction segment of our blogs.

The reason that accidents occur often is that the defendants, players in a construction site, cut corners. There is a lot of work going on by a lot of different parties. Frequently, the site is a disorganized one. There is also time pressure and time pressure has the effect on people of making them less careful than they might otherwise have been. Why is there time pressure? Certainly the owner may have wanted a building to be completed or a renovation to be done sooner rather than later. There may be penalties in the contract for not getting the job completed in time. Most often, there will in fact there will be penalties. It may be a case that the project got started late because of a problem with permitting or environmental issues and the like. Maybe financing came about a little later than expected. Maybe hiring subcontractors, and the bidding process, didn’t go quite as quickly as expected. Subcontractors will then “feel the heat” and minimize the safety precautions that they would undertake if it were up to their better nature.

All of this can be especially troubling in the very active construction site. Just how big was it? Were the appropriate people with the appropriate level of competence hired? Were there enough of them to supervise or superintend such an active site. If there weren’t, that should redound to your advantage in your lawsuit. It suggests that there was inadequate staffing. It is no excuse that the site was too big for one person to oversee. Actually, that is almost offensive because for a little bit of money (at least relative to the cost of the project) that understaffing situation could have been rectified. This is consistent with the law of negligence which looks to the burden, including the cost, of engaging in safety measures as compared with the likelihood of injury and the potential seriousness of the injury.

But turning back to the time pressure that is often a factor in construction, I make sure to learn whether there have been explicit notes by the general contractor that many of the trades are falling behind. The representative of the general contractor may feel that he/she has been too lenient on time sensitive matters. The pressure to complete things in a certain time frame may cause the general contractor to issue an edict to work Saturdays and so on and so forth. When you see that, and you combine it with other factors that are going on, that oft-quoted analogy from evidence occurs to me: a brick by itself may be just a brick but together they make a wall. I think you will have gone a long way in establishing that wall of negligence and why there was negligence. You will have provided a motive for the disturbing injury, an injury that should have been prevented.

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