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Determining Fault in a New York Construction Accident

The construction industry has one of the highest injury rates among all industry sectors. While some construction accidents have fairly basic causes, such as lack of adequate training, others may be more complicated. The following is a list of individuals or companies that may be liable for a construction injury or fatality:

Construction Site Owner:

The responsibility of a construction site owner depends on the manner in which the accident occurred and the type of work being performed at the time of the accident. In some cases owners face absolute liability irrespective of their level of involvement in the work being performed, while in other instances a greater degree of involvement must be moved. In many cases involving a fall from a height (such as a scaffold or a ladder) an owner is found to be 100% at fault (liable) even if they are not directly involved in the work being performed.

General Contractor:

In most cases, the general contractor is obligated to make sure the construction site is reasonably safe. They are also required to inform construction workers of any existing hazards or potential dangers on the construction site. Lastly, the general contractor is responsible for hiring competent workers and enforcing safety regulations.

If a construction worker is injured on the job, the general contractor is often found to be at fault. In those cases, the general contractor must compensate the employee for their injuries. In many cases involving a fall from a height (such as scaffolds or a ladder) a general contractor is held to be absolutely liable (at fault) as matter of law.


Subcontractors typically have the same legal responsibility as a general contractor; however, their accountability is limited to the area of the construction site where they are in charge. Like the general contractor, the subcontractor must provide a safe working environment; hire compete workers; and ensure employees follow construction safety regulations.

Architects, Engineers and Design Professionals:

These professionals carry different degrees of responsibility for construction accidents. Their responsibility is typically based on their contract with the construction site owner. In most cases, design professionals are liable for making sure routine inspections occur on the construction site to ensure the building is being erected in accordance with the plans and code regulations. In addition, architects and engineers are held to certain standards when performing their services and must identify them through the entire construction process. If a design professional fails to meet these accepted standards, they may be at fault for a construction injury.

Machinery or Equipment Manufacturer:

In some construction accidents, the responsibility falls on the manufacturer of defective equipment or machinery. Because of “strict liability,” the manufacturer is accountable for damages and harm resulting from their equipment, regardless of fault or intention, simply because the injury is a result of the product. If construction equipment injures a worker because of a defect or lack of adequate safety warning, the manufacturer may be held accountable for the injury, lost wages, etc.

Insurance Company:

Because of the many dangers that can be found throughout a construction site, the construction site owner is required by the law to have several types of insurance. If a construction worker is injured on-site and wants to recover compensation, the construction site insurance policies should be carefully scrutinized by your attorney. Typical construction insurance requirements include:

  • Workers’ compensation
  • Employer’s liability
  • Premise or property liability insurance (by property manager or owner)
  • Commercial general liability

When determining fault in a construction accident, it is vital to seek help from an experienced construction attorney. Your lawyer can investigate the cause of your construction accident and take the necessary steps to ensure you get the maximum compensation for your injuries. Fill out a FREE case evaluation to discuss your legal rights today.

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