Minnesota Construction Site Accident Lawyers
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 who is familiar with the unique issues associated with construction site litigation. The 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.
The most frequent types of construction site accidents include falls, electrical incidents, trench collapses, and incidents involving cranes and aerial lifts. 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.
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. Owner Liability
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.”
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.