Last year, a three-story building in New York collapsed while construction workers were adding a fourth floor. The New York Department of Buildings' investigation yielded four reasons for the catastrophe: the failure to fix a wall's crack, the stress of construction upon the building, unusually rainy weather and the filling of a basement of an adjacent building. Fortunately, no one was killed; however, three construction workers and one pedestrian were injured.
Typically, an accident like this is caused by poor management of some aspect of the construction. For example, scaffolding used to work on high areas may be inadequate for the job and fail. Or, as in the most recent collapse, the integrity of a building may be such that further construction is unsafe. Often, workers' compensation is the first thing that comes to mind. Rightfully so, as often it is available to a person injured on the job.
An injured person should also be mindful of other potential remedies. Workers' compensation prevents an injured person from suing their employer. However, a building may have been inspected or deemed safe by a general contractor, who is not the direct employer of the injured party. Unsafe scaffolding may have been erected by someone other than the injured party's direct employer. In cases such as these, the injured party may have a legitimate legal claim against the party that caused the unsafe condition.
In some situations, the law goes so far as to make a general contractor or other liable party absolutely liable for the injury. These absolute liability situations arise when an activity is so inherently unsafe that the party in control of the circumstances must take every precaution to protect workers. An example would be scaffolding on a tall building; if it collapses or fails, there is no defense to a claim by an injured party.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a construction accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer experienced in personal injury can provide you with the information necessary to protect your rights.