It is often said that construction work is one of the most dangerous professions, and according to the Department of Labor, construction workers are commonly injured or killed due to falls, being struck by building and construction debris, getting caught in trenches or between moving pieces of equipment, or being electrocuted. But if a construction zone is not secure, the workers are negligent when operating equipment or debris is left on roads or walkways, what happens when a non-worker is injured? Can you get compensation from the construction company, state, town, or owner of the building being worked on?
Florida Construction Zone Laws
Each year, there is approximately 100,000 car crashes in work and construction zones. If you are driving down Florida’s roads where construction is ongoing, you will notice signs that require you to reduce your speed or risk double the fine for driving dangerously in a construction zone. Further, Florida requires drivers to yield to construction workers and equipment while on the road. This is because Florida law acknowledges that when construction workers or equipment are present on the road, there is an increased chance of injury to non-working drivers in that zone as the result of uneven pavement, narrowed lanes, and debris. Especially on high-speed highways, which seem to always be under construction, hitting debris at an increased rate of speed can cause you to lose control of your vehicle in a setting where there are narrow lanes, which can cause a multi-car chain reaction accident.
Non-Worker Construction Site Injuries
Although car accidents in construction zones are one of the most common reasons for non-worker injuries in Florida, the road isn’t the only construction zone that can pose a danger to the public. The following construction related dangers might injure non-workers just as easily as professional workers in Florida:
- Falling debris: When working on a high-rise building or with cranes, building materials may fall from the construction zone onto a pedestrian walkway, injuring non-workers nearby who would not have the same safety equipment as a worker:
- Trenches and Hazards: If construction is taking place within an area where there is non-worker traffic, trenches, divots, and potholes can pose a serious fall risk to non-workers, especially if the area is not clearly marked and lighted;
- Airborne Dangers: If the construction is taking place on an old road or building, there is a chance that such work can cause dangerous chemicals or mold spores to enter the atmosphere, causing personal injuries and illnesses to those non-workers who live near the construction site and may be exposed to certain toxic hazards.
If you were injured as the result of construction debris in a public area or developed an illness during or after work at an older construction site, it is important to discuss your options with a Florida personal injury attorney as soon as practicable to preserve your right to compensation.
Private Contractors and Construction Zone Injuries
Often construction site injuries not caused by a negligent driver are the result of negligence on the part of the construction workers, company, state, or municipality. How and from whom you can recover compensation for your injuries will depend on the manner and location where you were injured. For example, if you are hit by falling debris outside of a construction zone where a private hotel was being built, you will almost always have a cause of action against either the general contractor or sub-contractor who directly caused your injury.
The general rule in Florida is that the person or entity that hired a private contractor is not liable for your injuries because that person or entity typically does not exercise direct control over the contractor’s daily activities. However, you may also have a cause of action against the owner of the hotel being built if the hotel owner who hired the contractor was negligent in either (1) hiring, instructing, or supervising the contractor or (2) the work being undertaken was inherently dangerous. For example, if the hotel owner hired a contractor to demolish a building that required explosives and contained materials with asbestos spores, the hotel owner cannot avoid liability for your injuries by simply hiring an independent contractor to do the work.
Likewise, if the hotel owner simply hired the cheapest contractor who bid on the project without checking to ensure that the contractor was properly licensed and had trained employees, the hotel owner may also be held liable for injuries caused by that contractor’s negligence.
State Authorities and Construction Zone Injuries
Early in the history of the American legal system, you could not sue the government, including the United States, the State of Florida, or a city such as Tampa Bay, for your injuries under the principle of “sovereign immunity.” Florida, however, has waived its own sovereign immunity to allow injured individuals to sue the state, up to a certain monetary value, for personal injuries that occurred as the result of the negligence of a government employee. If a government inspector certified that a construction site was secure or even issued permits for work in an area prone to flooding, you may be able to sue the government itself if such negligent behavior, in conjunction with negligent construction work, was a proximate cause of your injury. Litigating against a government entity can be complex, as a different set of laws and rules apply. It is, however, possible to seek compensation against the state if you were injured in a state or city construction zone.
Contact a New Port Richey Construction Zone Injury Attorney Today
If you are a non-worker who was injured as the result of construction work, whether driving in a construction zone or simply walking down your local sidewalk, it is important to contact a local New Port Richey personal injury attorney immediately to discuss your options for compensation. Because most construction zones are owned by either a governmental entity or private company but are worked on by independent contractors who in turn hire sub-contractors, litigating such matters takes ample investigation and experience. The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has hands-on experience litigating construction injury cases in the greater Tampa Bay area, and they are here to fight for your right to compensation. Contact them today online or at (727) 477-9660 for a free, no-risk consultation.