Construction sites are among the country’s most dangerous workplaces and construction workers have some of the highest injury rates. However, the dangers of construction sites are not always limited to on-site workers. Innocent bystanders can also be injured as a result of negligence on construction sites.
Bystanders who have been injured due to construction site negligence often suffer from a variety of difficulties, such as medical expenses, lost wages from missing work, and pain and suffering. Negligent parties responsible for causing the accident and related injuries may be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit. You can learn more about your legal rights after a bystander construction injury by speaking with experienced Albany construction injury lawyer Paul Giannetti.
Common Bystander Construction Accidents
Construction work can be extremely dangerous, so construction workers and those in charge of construction sites must take all necessary precautions to keep their sites safe and free of hazards. There are several different ways that bystanders can be injured in construction site accidents.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), struck-by hazards – which include both falling objects and flying objects – are one of the top four construction hazards for construction workers.
Falling objects also pose a major danger to bystanders walking beneath construction sites. Being struck by an object that falls from a construction site can cause serious or even fatal injuries. These objects may include debris, tools, scaffolding, and large machinery like cranes.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Falls are another one of OSHA’s top four construction hazards. Both construction workers and bystanders are at risk of slip, trip, and fall accidents when hazards are left on walking paths. For example, a pedestrian walking past a construction site could get injured if they trip over debris or tools left in the walking path by a construction worker.
Some construction sites use hazardous materials and these materials must be handled properly according to the requirements of OSHA and local construction authorities. If a construction worker leaves hazardous materials exposed or fails to dispose of them properly, their coworkers and bystanders could both suffer serious injuries due to exposure.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Most construction sites are full of a variety of vehicles, from heavy trucks to cranes, backhoes, and other pieces of heavy machinery. While any type of motor vehicle collision can cause severe or fatal injuries, those involving heavy construction vehicles are even more likely to result in serious injuries.
If a construction vehicle collides with a private vehicle or pedestrian due to negligence on the part of the driver, those injured in the collision likely have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
What Is the New York Zone of Danger Rule?
The New York zone of danger rule is used in personal injury lawsuits when the plaintiff is seeking damages for emotional distress. This rule may be invoked if the plaintiff did not suffer physical injuries, but suffered emotional distress from witnessing a family member suffer serious or fatal injuries.
This rule was first established in a 1984 New York Court of Appeals case called Bovsun v. Sanperi. In this case, the Bovsun family vehicle was hit by the defendant’s vehicle and Mr. Bovsun was pinned between the two cars. His wife and daughter were inside the vehicle at the time and did not suffer physical injuries, but filed a claim for damages based on emotional distress.
The court ruled in favor of the Bovsun family, determining that this claim was valid for three reasons:
- The mother and daughter both were at risk of suffering serious physical injuries
- The victim with physical injuries (Mr. Bovsun) was an immediate family member
- The mother and daughter were both immediately aware of their loved one’s injuries
These three criteria remain the standard for requesting emotional distress damages under New York’s zone of danger rule. If your loved one was injured as a bystander in a construction accident that you witnessed, you may have grounds to pursue damages in a personal injury lawsuit under this rule.
Who Can Be Sued For Bystander Construction Injuries?
If you were injured in a construction accident caused by the negligence of another party, that negligent party can be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced construction injury lawyer can evaluate your case and determine who was at fault for the accident.
In general, one or more of the following parties may be considered liable for bystander construction injuries caused by negligence:
- General contractors – Most construction sites are run by general contractors and these contractors have a legal duty to ensure the site is safe from preventable hazards and that all safety measures are followed. Failure to meet this legal duty constitutes negligence.
- Property owners – If the property owner held significant control over the site or if the accident was caused by a property defect, they can be held liable for damages related to your injuries.
- Manufacturers of defective equipment or machinery – Some construction accidents occur due to defective tools, safety equipment, or heavy machinery. In these cases, the manufacturers of these defective products can be held liable.
- Architects – Architects are responsible for constructing the building plan and making sure these plans comply with all building codes. If an accident happened due to a failure to follow all regulations, the architect could potentially be held liable for damages.
What Damages Are Available in Bystander Construction Injury Lawsuits?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bystander construction accident, you may recover financial compensation for all economic and noneconomic damages you face, including:
- Cost of current and future medical care
- Lost wages, and loss of future earning potential
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Learn More From Our Albany Construction Injury Lawyers
No one should be forced to bear the burdens of recovering from a bystander construction injury on their own, especially when their injuries were caused by negligence. If you or a loved one was recently injured due to construction site negligence, Albany construction injury lawyer Paul Giannetti is here to help. Contact Paul today to learn more about your options in a free consultation.