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Handling a Construction Site Accident Case


Proving fault for an accident on a construction site is not easy and handling a construction site accident in the right way is not easy. It requires a lot of work. I would like to review some of that work in this brief blog. As we draw to a conclusion of these construction site accident blogs, it is an appropriate time to provide a summary of the necessary work.

First of all, your attorney needs a knowledge of the substantive area of law. The bottom half of this pile [see the video] is all having to do with Massachusetts case law. The seminal case -the one to which so many subsequent cases refer- is the 1985 Supreme Judicial Court case of Corsetti v. Stone, 396 Mass. Corsetti has really set the tone for responsibility of a general contractor at an accident site. The top half of this pile [see the video] are exhibits in a recent case that I have been pursuing. You can see how thick and voluminous this is. Indeed, the work goes far beyond a knowledge to the substantive law, the knowledge of this Corsetti case and the knowledge of the cases that have come after the Corsetti decision in the last 32 years.

It involves a number of crucial factors: an understanding of the kind of work that was done at the construction site; working with experts who will tell you what is the standard of care, specifically what is good practice on the part of the general contractor, the typical entity being sued; a knowledge of contracts and that contract, the American Institute of Architects contract, that imposes upon a general contractor, or someone else who the general contractor designates, the duty of safety; and a knowledge of what documents were generated for the project.

It also involves understanding corporations because entities that buy buildings and renovate buildings may seek the insulation, or the protection, of the corporate form or another device so that many of their principals will be removed from the direct line of fire. It involves an understanding of how to depose a corporation and that rule of civil procedure that I spoke of under Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6). It involves an understanding of codes, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts regulations and the OSHA codes, and it involves knowing how to use them and introducing them into evidence.

Speaking of evidence, it also involves knowing if any of the entities have ever been cited by OSHA. The benefit of that is that it will involve using that fact not to prove that they violated something in this instance – although you want that proved, to be sure- but to prove that the defendant had notice. If they were cited for the same violation at issue in your case, then they could have gotten their act together and not allowed the very same violation to have occurred when it mattered most to you: that is, when your client was injured. The defendant should have been alert to the fact that since they had violated this sort of thing before the worker was injured, they needed to have a remedy in place. As is said, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

Often times, discovery will reveal incriminating statements -the classic sort of admission we plaintiff lawyers hope for- or powerful evidence of negligence such as a violation of a company’s own safety manual.

As you go through this overview listing the elements to look for, you can see the breadth of things that can be at issue. Happily, many of them are in your favor. But there is also a need to understand each of those elements in some depth. A superficial understanding of what to look for won’t always cut it. Indeed, If you have been injured at a construction site, you need a lawyer who is willing to take it on with breadth and depth.

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