Construction site injury litigation is often extremely complex. The parties involved in such litigation, can include the owner, the general contractor, subcontractors, and design professionals such as architects, engineers and inspectors. The roles, potential exposure, and relevant theories of liability can differ greatly between each of these participants.
For an injured party to succeed in this area, it is critical that they obtain an attorney that is familiar with the unique issues associated with construction site litigation. The Minneapolis personal injury attorneys at Hall Law have considerable experience successfully handling construction site injury cases. As a result, we are well acquainted with the complex issues presented by such claims and are uniquely positioned to ensure our clients receive the best possible result for their individual circumstances.
If you or a family member have fallen victim to a construction accident, our Minneapolis construction site accident attorneys are here to help. Contact our firm for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case with our experienced attorneys.
Minneapolis Construction Site Legal Resources:
- Why Choose Us?
- What Are Common Causes of Construction Accidents?
- Who Is Responsible for a Construction Accident in Minneapolis, MN?
- How to Prove a Third Party is Liable for a Construction Accident
- What Should I Do If I See Unsafe Working Conditions on a Construction Site in Minnesota?
- What is the Time Limit to File a Construction Accident Claim in Minnesota?
- Can Employers Legally Retaliate Against Whistleblowers?
- What Damages Are Available in Construction Accidents?
- How Much is My Construction Accident Claim in Minnesota Worth?
- What To Do After a Construction Site Accident
- Contact Us
Why Choose Us?
After an injury is suffered on a construction site, victims need an experienced law firm that can help recover damages for what was lost.
The Minneapolis construction accident lawyers at our firm have more than three decades of experience assisting injured victims recover what was lost from an accident. Our law firm has helped victims involved in construction accidents recover damages for medical bills, loss of work and pain and suffering.
- Our firm has achieved record setting settlements and verdicts for our clients.
- Our reputation of no-nonsense attorneys has helped our firm recover numerous multi million dollar verdicts and settlements.
- All of the cases are prepared for the possibility of trial. We form our cases with trial at the forefront of our decisions.
- The firm offers payment terms on a contingency fee basis. Our firm only recovers payment for our services if the case has a favorable settlement or verdict.
What Are Common Causes of Construction Accidents?
The most frequent types of construction site accidents include falls, electrical incidents, trench collapses, and incidents involving cranes and aerial lifts. However, there are four types of accidents responsible for the most construction accident fatalities, known as the “fatal four.” According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), those are as follows:
- Fall Hazards: Construction workers face the greatest risk from falls. Falls were responsible for 36.4% of all construction accident-related fatalities in 2019. Even at minimal heights, safety precautions must be taken to ensure worker safety. When companies fail to routinely inspect, maintain, or provide safety reinforcements, such as properly installed scaffolding, adequate railing, equipment, or safeguarded machinery, workers are put at a higher risk of a fall injury occurring.
- Struck By or Against an Object: Approximately 15% of construction fatalities in 2019 involved a worker being struck by or against an object. Construction workers are constantly at risk of being hit by a falling object, loose materials, equipment, or heavy machinery. Jobsite owners or operators must provide workers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), training for the use of equipment and heavy machinery, and warn workers of areas that have a higher chance of a struck-by accident occurring.
- Electrocution Accidents: A little over 7% of worker fatalities in 2019 were caused by electrocution accidents. If a construction site is incorrectly planned or isn’t inspected for safety, workers can come into contact with live wires that should have been temporarily shut off or diverted. Failure to provide electrical and safety training also contributes to electrocution accidents.
- Caught in Between: “Caught in between” accidents contributed to 5.4% of worker fatalities in 2019. When workers get wedged between two objects—for example, a semi-trailer and a dock wall, a truck frame and its hydraulic bed or other such equipment, or if a trench were to collapse, it can be fatal.
Who Is Responsible for a Construction Accident in Minneapolis, MN?
Determining who is responsible for a construction accident can be challenging since multiple parties may be involved in construction operations. However, it is important to note that there are very few situations in which an injured worker can sue their employer for negligence due to workers’ compensation laws. Most construction accident claims are against third parties and filed in conjunction with a workers’ compensation claim. Because of our experience in construction site litigation, the attorneys at Hall Law are familiar with the relevant statutes, regulations, industry standards and legal theories of recovery against potential defendants.
The following outline provides a brief summary of the various causes of action associated with each potential party to a construction site injury case:
A. Property Owner Liability
Property owners have a duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for construction workers and can possibly be held liable for an accident under the following circumstances.
1. Retained Control
An owner may be liable to the extent that it has retained control over the performance of the work. The duty created by this provision is not all-encompassing, however, and instead only places a duty upon an owner not to act negligently in undertaking that activity over which it has retained control. Restatement (Second) of Torts Section 414. Under this theory, liability is established only when an employer’s negligent exercise of retained control is the legal cause of the harm.
2. Negligent Hiring
Typically, an owner may be subjected to liability where the owner acted negligently in failing to select competent and careful contractors, architects and engineers. However, liability for negligent hiring is generally precluded where the injury is to an employee of the contractor hired, which is often the case in construction litigation.
3. Peculiar Risk
An owner who employs an independent contractor to do work which the employer should recognize as likely to create a peculiar risk of physical harm to others unless special precautions are taken, may be subject to liability for injuries caused by the failure of the contractor to exercise reasonable care to take such precautions even though the employer has provided for such precautions in the contract or otherwise.
4. Liability of the Owner for Existing Conditions of the Property
A property owner may be liable for latent defects of the property which existed before the construction activity commenced, even if the owner has temporarily relinquished control over the work area. The general rule precluding liability for conditions on the property is applicable only in situations where the harm is caused by a condition created by an independent contractor, and does not apply where the condition is created by the owner or is pre-existing on the property, unless it is apparent. “[A]n owner of premises is not responsible to an independent contractor for injury from defects or dangers which the contractor knows of, or ought to know of. If the defect or danger is hidden and known to the owner, and neither known to the contractor, nor such as he ought to know, it is the duty of the owner to warn the contractor and if he does not do this, of course, he is liable for resultant injury.” Crawford Johnson & Co. v. Duffner, 279 Ala. 678, 189 So. 2d 474 (1966).
B. General Contractor Liability
A general contractor on a construction site will generally have a non-delegable duty to ensure a safe worksite. This is true even where the general contractor has hired independent subcontractors to perform all of the work on the project and even where it has expressly required the subcontractors to provide their own safety measures. The rationale behind this rule is that it should encourage the general contractor to provide needed safety equipment and either implement or supervise the subcontractors’ implementation of necessary safety precautions.
C. Subcontractor Contractor Liability
Typically, the duty of the subcontractor to provide a safe worksite is limited by the terms of its contract with the general contractor. However, a subcontractor owes a duty to provide a safe worksite to its own employees, even if not expressly stated in its agreement with the general contractor.
In certain situations a subcontractor can be held liable for injuries to employees of the general contractor or to other subcontractors. A subcontractor has a limited common law and statutory duty to provide a safe worksite. Normally the subcontractor may be held liable only for “such harm as is done by the particular work entrusted to him.”
D. Design Professional Liability
Professionals in charge of designing what is being built, such as engineers or architects, can be liable for failing to meet design safety standards. They must ensure their plans are safe from defects and comply with building codes. In addition, they must visit the site to ensure compliance and oversee routine inspections to make sure all structures are being built according to the blueprints.
E. Product Manufacturers and Suppliers Liability
A product manufacturer, supplier, or any other party involved in a product’s distribution chain may be held legally liable if defective equipment or materials are responsible for a worker’s injury.
When determining which parties are liable in your case, an attorney will typically consider the following factors:
- Location of the Accident: Since construction duties can take place in many areas, looking at where the injury took place can be critical to knowing which party is liable.
- Construction Site Conditions: Whether the site was in compliance with OSHA or if unsafe working conditions were a factor.
- Condition of Equipment: If equipment was involved in the accident, it should be examined for potential defects and/or a lack of maintenance.
- Proper Use of Equipment: Whether another worker’s misuse of equipment was the cause of your injury.
- Site Management: Who was in charge of the site when the accident occurred, and if the supervisor made an error.
How to Prove a Third Party is Liable for a Construction Accident
Typical construction site cases often require deposition testimony from witnesses including the owner’s representative, project superintendent, project manager and foreperson along with various trades’ people. Focused expert testimony can be critical in order to develop an effective liability strategy. In a third-party liability claim, the injured worker will be responsible for proving another party’s negligence is responsible for their injury. Whereas workers’ compensation claims do not require evidence of fault. The following four elements of negligence must be established:
Duty of Care
A duty of care must have existed between the plaintiff (injured worker) and the defendant (at-fault party)—for example, a crane operator has a duty to operate it carefully to prevent harm to workers.
Breach of Duty of Care
The defendant violated their duty of care by acting in an unreasonable manner compared to what another reasonable person would have done under the same circumstances—for instance, operating a crane while texting or talking on the phone.
The defendant’s breach of their duty of care directly resulted in the worker’s injury. In other words, the injury would not have occurred if not for the defendant’s actions.
The final element is damages. The plaintiff must prove they suffered financial or personal losses due to the injury (e.g., medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc.).
What Should I Do If I See Unsafe Working Conditions on a Construction Site in Minnesota?
The best way to report unsafe working conditions on a construction site in Minnesota is by taking one of these steps:
- Notify your employer of the unsafe working conditions.
- File a complaint online with OSHA. If you are concerned about confidentiality, you may choose to file your complaint from your home computer or mobile phone.
- Download the OSHA complaint form, fax it, or mail it to your local OSHA Regional office.
- Call your local OSHA Regional Office to discuss your complaint.
- File a discrimination complaint if your employer retaliated against you for refusing to work in unsafe conditions or exercising your rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. You can file a complaint online or by contacting your local OSHA office. In most cases, employees can file a complaint with both the state and federal OSHA.
If you believe the unsafe working conditions are life-threatening, you may have the right to refuse to work. Immediately call your local OSHA office or the toll-free number (800)-321-OSHA.
What is the Time Limit to File a Construction Accident Claim in Minnesota?
The most critical deadline after a construction injury is the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a state law that determines how much time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. Depending on the type of injuries suffered, different statutes apply depending on the injury. However in the vast majority of construction accidents:
- If the injury concerns a physical injury to a person, the statute of limitations to file a claim is two years from the date of the accident.
- If the claim involves damage to personal property, the statute of limitations is six years.
Navigating the appropriate deadlines associated with a construction accident case is imperative to a successful claim. To ensure that the proper paperwork is filed contact an attorney as soon as possible after a construction site accident has occurred. As long as you still have the right to bring a lawsuit, the at-fault party’s insurance company will typically consider your claim. Most insurers would instead settle a case than risk losing a lawsuit.
Can I File a Claim If The Statute of Limitations Has Passed?
Attention to the statute of limitations is of utmost importance during a personal injury case. In the event that a plaintiff fails to file the claim in a timely manner, the defense can file a motion to dismiss effectively ending the case. At that point, no matter how severe your injuries or the amount of evidence you have against the defendant, you will lose your right to recover compensation.
How Can An Attorney Help Ensure Deadlines are Met?
The best way to protect your interests is to secure the help of a law firm with extensive experience in construction site injury claims. By consulting with an attorney shortly after the accident, an injured victim can have help filing all of the necessary paperwork on time. An attorney will know the deadlines that apply to your case and ensure your lawsuit is filed in time. They will have a team behind them to assist in handling your case swiftly, along with the resources to investigate your accident, immediately collect evidence to build a solid claim, and hire experts if necessary. No matter the type of construction accident, the right attorney will have the knowledge and the skill to secure you the maximum amount of compensation possible. As a result, you won’t have to worry about the legal issues and you will have the ability to focus on recovering. Contact our attorneys to assist in your construction accident claim.
Can Employers Legally Retaliate Against Whistleblowers?
A whistleblower is a worker who passes on information concerning illicit activity, typically witnessed while on the job (e.g., unsafe working conditions). If you become a whistleblower, your company cannot retaliate or take revenge by reducing your hours or terminating your employment. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against employees who exercise their legal right to report or complain about certain workplace issues, such as:
- Health and safety violations;
- Violations of wage and hour laws;
- Illegal discrimination or harassment; and,
- On-the-job injuries (e.g., filing a workers’ compensation claim).
Employees who are whistleblowers are protected by law against being fired, demoted, transferred, or retaliated against in any other manner. If you believe that you have faced retaliation, report it to OSHA as soon as possible, as there is a 30-day time limit for filing a complaint. After OSHA interviews you, they will gather information from the employer and witnesses if necessary. When there is evidence of retaliation, OSHA will take action, such as requiring that your job, earnings, and benefits be restored, and possibly a damages award for any financial or personal losses (e.g., lost income, emotional distress, etc.).
What Damages Are Available in Construction Accidents?
Victims injured in construction accidents caused by a third party have the right to recover damages beyond workers’ compensation benefits. Those types of compensation include economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages represent the direct, easily calculable costs you have incurred due to the construction accident. Expenses like:
- Current and future medical bills related to treating the injury, including hospitalizations, surgeries, doctor’s appointments, physical rehabilitation, prescription medications, home modifications for disability, etc.
- Total lost wages and benefits (beyond the portion that workers’ compensation covers).
- Loss of future income and diminished earning capacity (for the difference in the income you can earn now compared to before the accident)
- Property damage: compensation for the repairs or replacement of any personal property that was damaged, such as your cell phone, tools, or clothing.
Non-economic damages are compensation for subjective, non-monetary losses, such as:
- Pain and suffering: The physical pain and mental anguish suffered because of the injury.
- Emotional distress: The psychological impact the injury has had on daily life.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: If you receive less pleasure from the things you were able to do before the accident.
- Loss of consortium: A spouse or family members can recover compensation if the injury victim cannot provide the same love, affection, companionship, comfort, society, or sexual relations that they were able to before the accident.
On top of these damages, the defendant may be ordered to pay punitive damages. However, this type of compensation is only awarded in cases involving a defendant who behaved with a reckless disregard for the safety of others.
How Much is My Construction Accident Claim in Minnesota Worth?
Construction accident cases are known to resolve in as much as five-figure to multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts. However, each construction accident case will vary in value based on unique factors. As a result, you may not get an answer to exactly how much compensation you will receive. Still, an attorney can give you an accurate estimate. Here are a few of the main factors that can impact your case’s worth.
The higher your economic damages or financial losses (e.g., medical bills, lost income, property damage, etc.), the increased value of your case. Your non-economic damages will typically play a significant role in how much compensation you recover. When awarding pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other non-economic damages, the court will consider:
- The type and severity of your injuries.
- Whether your injuries are permanent.
- Whether your injuries were pre-existing, and if so, if they were made worse.
- The amount, types, and costs of medical care you have received and will need in the future.
- Whether there were any gaps in your medical treatment, and if so, why? (Gaps can hurt your claim)
- Your past lost income.
- Whether you are expected to return to work.
- Any restrictions on your daily life.
- How your life has changed and been impacted.
- Your spouse and/or children’s losses suffered due to your injury.
The severity of your injury and its effect on your life is what truly makes the difference in case value. For example, an injury that causes paralysis will be worth much more than a bone fracture that is expected to heal completely within a couple of months.
Liability and Strength of Evidence
If liability is unclear or you were partially to blame for the accident (e.g., not wearing a hard hat, not paying attention, talking on the phone, etc.), then Minnesota’s rule of contributory negligence will apply. Under this law, a victim’s compensation will be reduced by their percentage of fault. However, if you are more than 50% responsible, you cannot recover any compensation.
For example, if you are awarded $500,000 but a jury finds you 40% at fault for your accident, you will receive 60% of your award or $300,000. If you are found 51% or more to blame, you will get $0. Because of this law, many insurance companies will look for ways to blame you and reduce their liability and payout.
Whether You Hire an Attorney
One factor that is critical to the value of your case is whether you hire an experienced construction accident. Many studies show that injury victims represented by an attorney recover three and a half times more in compensation than those who through the claims process alone. In addition, by hiring a lawyer, it validates the threat of a lawsuit, which can motivate an insurance company to take your claim seriously and offer you or agree to a fair settlement.
What To Do After a Construction Site Accident
After a construction accident, immediately report the injury to your employer and seek medical attention right away. Seeing a doctor as soon as possible is critical to your health, but will also protect your right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits and perhaps additional compensation in a third party claim. You should also:
- Write down the names and contact information of co-workers or anyone who witnessed the accident.
- Keep copies of all reports, paperwork, and accident-related expenses, including the accident report given to your employer, medical bills, lost income, etc.
- Keep track of your medical treatments, appointments, and providers.
- Follow medical instructions carefully and continue the treatment your doctor recommends.
- Write down your daily symptoms and how your injury limits your activities.
- Contact an attorney as soon as you can so they may begin investigating your accident to determine if a third party is liable and will collect vital evidence of fault.
Even if you do not seek compensation through a third-party claim, workers’ compensation claims are not always a seamless process. Having a lawyer by your side from start to finish will ensure you are protected, treated fairly, and receive the compensation you deserve.
Contact Our Minneapolis Construction Accident Lawyers
If you or a family member have suffered serious injuries on a construction accident site, our Minneapolis construction lawyers are here to help you and your family navigate this complex time. For a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case, call (800) 292-1979 or reach out to us via our online contact form. Our expert personal injury lawyers are here to help.
Preserve Your Rights
When you or a loved one has suffered a construction site injury, it is important to act swiftly in order to preserve evidence and to ensure other key aspects of your case are not neglected. If you or one of your loved ones has a potential construction site injury claim, please call for a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys.