Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Liability Issues in Construction Accidents

Several liability issues are involved in a construction accident. If you happen to be a worker injured at work, you can recover from your injuries through worker’s compensation benefits. However, the property owner and the company owner may also be held liable for damages under premise liability.

The article “Man Killed in Deadly Banning Accident”, posted on March 27, 2008, gives an account of a worker’s tragic death in a construction site. The worker died while working on a power line after the trench collapsed. Reports said the man was trapped inside the trench and died from suffocation.

According to the article, the industrial accident is still being investigated by the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (CAL-OSHA), the local police department and the worker’s employer.

Trench cave-ins are common construction and industrial accidents that cause dearth and injury in California. According to statistics, over the period of 2001 to 2005, nearly 26 deaths and 207 injuries have been accounted from trench accidents alone.

The state safety and health agency pointed out that the cause of the accident was the company’s failure to shore up the trench properly. Other preventive measures could have been taken to avoid the accident by checking on the stability of the soil and carrying out inspections of the trench.

Because of the incident, the company may be held liable for the death of the worker, as a regulation from the Department of Occupational Safety and Health requires that “the employer must competently conduct daily inspections of the trench and implement safety measures”. In addition, a worker who enters an excavation 5 feet or deeper has to obtain a permit from the agency before proceeding to work.

Further, in California, every employer has a legal obligation to provide and maintain and safe and healthy workplace for employees, as required by California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973. The employer in this case will probably be fined by CAL-OSHA for neglecting or failing to shore up the trench properly. Not only does the family have rights to workers’ compensation benefits, but they may have a third party lawsuit as well.