As a Miami lawyer who sues construction companies, a common question many clients have is: “Who do I sue?” While this may sound like an easy question to answer, when you are dealing with highly funded complex projects with multiple construction companies involved, the task is certainly difficult to determine who is responsible. On most occasions, the client will come into my office, tell me the story of how he or she was injured, yet stalls when I pose the question: “Who wronged you?” In construction site accidents, often times it is a bit hazy as to who is responsible for causing damage to the client. The answer, more times than not, is that multiple construction companies are responsible. This was most likely an issue that an Etowah County, Alabama jury was tasked with deciding prior to rendering a $1 million verdict.
In 2007, an Alabama woman was working at a local restaurant when she suffered a slip and fall injury as a result of a manhole cover extending nearly an inch off the ground. The woman suffered injuries that required a fusion in her neck, rods in her back, and a lifetime of constant pain. According to local media reports, two construction companies were apparently involved in the construction of the restaurant, as well as the surrounding area.
So, two questions: (1) Who to sue? (2) Who wronged the woman? The lawyer of the injured worker answered these questions by suing two construction companies, rather than the injured woman’s employer. These construction companies were named in this lawsuit because the manhole that was left elevated nearly an inch above the ground certainly rises to the level of a dangerous condition — i.e. a tripping hazard for the general public, including the injured worker.
While reports do not delve into the specifics of the injured worker’s argument against the construction companies, I would speculate that a key component to that argument is a breach of the duty of care owed by the two defendants. The elements of proving a slip and fall claim in Florida are explained in a previous post from August 16, 2012. Nevertheless, when construction companies are hired to perform work to repair, rebuild, or renovate an area, implied within every contract is that the work will be performed in a reasonably safe manner. This includes when the job is complete, the newly constructed area must be reasonably safe for public access — assuming of course the construction site area is intended to be open to the public.
Even when a construction project is complete, liability for an injury occurring at the newly constructed area can still fall in the hands of the construction company. When a person hires a lawyer after suffering a slip and fall injury, car accident injury, or any type of injury for that matter, a key consideration must be whether the incident occurred at a construction site — or at the location of a recently completed construction project. Unfortunately, many slip and fall cases or car accident cases are resolved without bringing in all necessary parties. Sadly, the one who suffers the most in the end is the injured person for not recovering the full value of their claim.
By: Brandon Stein