As a Miami personal injury lawyer, often times the most catastrophic injuries that I come across occur at or near construction sites.
This past Friday a construction worker in Vilonia, Arkansas was working on a project at a local high school to build a safe room. The worker had been employed by a construction company sub-contracted to perform brick and block work. School officials had indicated that the primary contractor on the project hired the injured construction worker’s company. While working on the project, the worker was utilizing a cement mixer stand. During the course of that construction, the commercial cement mixer collapsed and had landed on top of the worker. Authorities say that a piece of equipment such as a cement mixer can easily weigh approximately 1000 pounds. The injured construction worker was transported via helicopter to Little Rock hospital and is said to be in stable condition.
While this may appear to be your run of the mill construction site accident, a common question arises when construction workers are injured on projects involving multiple contractors. Which contractor is responsible for the injury? The simple answer — it depends. Rather than delving into a whole drawn out legal analysis regarding contractor/sub-contractor law, it often times comes down to safety rules. That’s right. Safety rules.
Generally, laws are in place to protect and ensure your safety, as well as the safety of our construction workers. On many highly funded construction projects, a general or primary contractor is hired, but then needs to hire sub-contractors to assist with the successful completion of the project. That was most likely the case with the Vilonia project mentioned above. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Florida Department of Transportation sets forth certain safety standards that construction companies are required to follow. During the course of my practice in construction site injury litigation, a key component to uncover is whether or not the defendant, construction company, followed safety regulations. I find it baffling at how often construction companies fail to take into account safety policies. In fact, many are lackadaisical in their training of employees, including work site supervisors, about these safety regulations. Sadly, the ones who are injured are the construction workers that are unaware of the numerous safety violations committed by their employer.
By no means am I contending that the cement mixer accident was due to safety violations by the contractors employed on the Vilonia project. However, if a situation such as the accident in Vilonia should ever proceed toward litigation, it is imperative for the injured construction worker to investigate whether any safety rules have been violated.
By: Brandon Stein