Bystander Injuries on Construction Sites: Whom Do You Sue?

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The urban jungle is full of dangers for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians who need to navigate daily traffic-heavy streets, packed sidewalks, construction sites, and road work areas. When it comes to building sites, bystander injuries are more frequent than any of us like to imagine. From tools or debris falling from above to construction vehicles and slips/falls on over debris, bystander injuries on construction sites come in many shapes and have different severity degrees. So now, with a concussion or a twisted ankle, you need to tend to your wounds. You also need some justice because those medical bills and lost wages do not solve by themselves. Let’s see some actionable information and tips if you or a loved one had suffered pedestrian injuries on a construction site.

How Can You Get Hurt on a Construction Site?

Construction sites should all follow a vast and strict set of safety regulations for both workers and bystanders. But, unfortunately, accidents happen all the time. Some of the most frequent situations pedestrians have to deal with include:

  • A tool or a construction material falls from an overhead location hurting your head or another body part;
  • You suffer from exposure to a chemical or toxic substance used on the construction site, suffering consequent illnesses or injuries;
  • A machine operator loses control of the equipment and hurts you;
  • A driver hurts you because they didn’t see you or did not take enough precautions to avoid hurting pedestrians while operating a vehicle;
  • Debris, uneven or unstable surfaces cause you to slip and fall;
  • You suffer from an electrical shock from improperly secured power sources/cables.

By law, construction sites and everyone involved have to follow city, state, and federal regulations. According to the Federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), anyone who owns or manages a construction site has a duty of care under the premises liability law to protect construction site workers, bystanders, and other people coming in contact with the said site.

Who Is Liable for Your Bystander Injuries on a Construction Site?

Determining whom to sue for your construction site injuries always depends on the facts of the accident. Keep in mind that states and cities also enforce safety rules and establish liability. If you were the victim of such an accident, you should hire an expert lawyer from the state you were injured in, not the state you are from – in case you are a tourist.

Injured construction site bystanders always have a better chance to establish accident facts when they retain an experienced attorney as soon as possible after the accident (but not before undergoing a medical checkup).

The most common “culprits” in a bystander injury case involving construction sites include:

  • Lack of adequate warning signals;
  • Unsecured workers’ tools;
  • Debris and materials;
  • Inadequate construction site fencing or netting;
  • Improper surface maintenance and cleanups, which, in turn, can lead to trips, slips, and falls;
  • Unsecured toxic materials (usage, storage, etc.);
  • Insufficient/inadequate workers’ training, etc.

Unfortunately, while the accident facts may be clear, understanding liability is a difficult job. For example, a wrench fell from a roof and hit your shoulder badly. Did a worker drop the tool by accident? Did the tool slip over the roof edge? Was it because someone left it there by negligence? Was there something wrong with the roof? So many questions and so much work to do for your legal representative! For instance, New York personal injury lawyers Cohen & Jaffe can help you with your case by first asking questions and engaging in investigations regarding:

  • Duty of care: did the entity who hurt you have a legal duty of care to operate a machine/vehicle/tool safely?
  • Can your legal team prove negligence on the construction site because someone there failed to meet the legal duty of care standards?
  • The direct link between negligent behavior/duty breaches and your injuries. Did someone cause your injuries because they behaved carelessly?
  • Is your harm measurable? Did the construction site’s carelessness cause you quantifiable injuries?

Armed with such answers and information, your attorney could start building a case for you. Then, besides the property owner and construction company working on that site, you can sue other entities involved in the said site:

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  • Construction workers;
  • Contractors and subcontractors;
  • Architects and engineers;
  • Equipment manufacturers (especially if defective equipment is the root cause of the accident/injury);
  • Third-party companies.

The plot thickens, of course, if you had any contribution to the situation. For instance, if you ignored some warning signs and willfully took some risks, your attorney will tell you what to expect.

Bottom Line

In short, property owners, contractors, sub-contractors, and other parties will have to pay damages for your construction site injuries as a bystander if they owed you a duty of care and they breached it. Your legal team will do everything in its power to determine the nature of the duty of care they owe you, to document the severity of your injuries, to understand how those injuries affected your health and life, and so on. Therefore, if you suffered an injury on a construction site as a bystander, tend to those injuries, document everything, and hire a lawyer!



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