Bystanders and Construction Safety

ISTOCK IMAGE ID 36053710Construction sites are naturally dangerous workplaces, both for the workers themselves, and for anyone who happens to share a close proximity to the site. For workers, injuries are not uncommon in the slightest; according to the US Department of Labor, in 2013, 20.7% workers who were killed on the job were killed because of construction related injuries.

Who is at fault for the accident depends on the circumstances that led to it. In some accidents, blame can clearly be put to one side or the other. In New York in 2008, for example, many were injured in the City because of a collapsing crane. Then in March, one Philadelphia woman was even killed after being struck by a falling plank. The city seen an increase in bystander injuries from debris falling from construction sites to sidewalks below; 59 people in the last 5 years have been seriously injured. These would be instances where the construction company/supervisors were clearly at fault. The following are additional instances where the construction officials would clearly be at fault:

  • If workers were operating construction equipment in such a way that caused debris or other items to fall onto pedestrians and/or their cars
  • Failing to appropriately install or arrange barriers so as to prevent debris or other objects from falling on pedestrians and/or their cars
  • Failing to note that debris or other objects could potentially pose a threat to bystanders
  • Failing to re-route traffic so as to prevent debris or other objects from falling on pedestrians and their cars
  • Failing to properly train employees on how to correctly operate machinery, or go about demolition practices so as to prevent or minimize risk to pedestrians
  • Operating construction equipment in a careless, reckless, or negligent way
  • Failing to stay maintain OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) safety standards

However, if you suffer a construction related injury as a non construction worker while trespassing on construction sites, things get more complicated.

Whether or not it’s advisable to pursue litigation for your injuries entirely depends on factors such as the situation leading up to the injury, and the extent of your injury. If you are minimally injured from an interaction with a construction site, the damages you would win as compensation for pain and suffering may not be worth the work, time and cost of the lawsuit. Each case is different, and must be individually weighed. The greatest resource you have in deciding whether or not to file suit is an experienced lawyer. You should favor someone who has successfully won personal injury cases, as well as been unsuccessful–they will be able to adequately weigh your chances. Litigation is not for everyone–however, if you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury, it’s never a bad idea to simply consider litigation.


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