When Could a General Contractor Be Liable for a Construction Injury?

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on November 30, 2019  in Personal Injury News. Updated on February 24, 2022

working on construction plansConstruction workers usually cannot sue their employers over an on-the-job injury. However, if the injury resulted from the negligence of another entity at the construction site, such as a general contractor, victims may be able to pursue damages from the general contractor.

The New Jersey construction accident lawyers at Lynch Law Firm, PC are experienced at handling construction accident claims and are prepared to discuss your potential claim during a free consultation.

What is a General Contractor?

General contractors are hired directly by a property owner or construction company to either complete one aspect of a project or manage and oversee the entire project. They can supply the necessary equipment, materials, labor and services to complete a project.

The general contractor often secures permits and provides instructions and deadlines on when to complete various aspects of the project. The general contractor can also be responsible for managing subcontractors and vendors. Subcontractors may include plumbers, HVAC workers, electricians, framers, roofers or general laborers, among others.

Liability for General Contractors and Subcontractors

General contractors are generally responsible for the work that subcontractors complete. If they retain control over all work performed, they may be held liable for an injury that occurs on the construction site.

General contractors can also be held liable for negligently hiring subcontractors if they knew that the subcontractor was not qualified for the job or failed to reasonably inquire into the subcontractor’s background. If the general contractor is aware of repeated safety violations by a subcontractor and similar violations resulted in an injury, the general contractor may be held liable.

Even though the general contractor may delegate duties to subcontractors, some duties cannot be delegated. If the law specifically states that a general contractor is responsible for a task or duty, the contractor would be liable for damages resulting from a failure to meet this duty, even if the task had been subcontracted out.

Victims must establish three things to hold a general contractor liable for a construction injury:

  • The general contractor had a legal duty to protect your safety
  • The general contractor failed to meet this duty
  • The failure to meet this duty directly caused your injury

There are many examples of failing to meet a legal duty, such as violating OSHA regulations or other industry safety standards.

Some examples of situations when a general contractor may be found liable for the actions of a subcontractor include:

Negligence in Giving Instructions

A general contractor may be held liable for damages if he or she negligently gave instructions to the subcontractor. In this type of case, you would have to show that the instructions or lack thereof, caused the accident.

Dangerous Work

If the construction work is inherently dangerous, the general contractor may be found vicariously liable for any injuries that occur. To establish that the work is inherently dangerous, you must show the following:

  • The work involves a special danger to others
  • The general contractor knew of the inherent danger
  • Injury is likely under the circumstances if proper precautions are not taken

While the construction industry is riskier than many other industries, certain types of construction work are more inherently dangerous than others. For example, blasting, excavating, pile driving, fumigating buildings and working around known carcinogens may be considered inherently dangerous construction work.

If the general contractor fails to minimize the risk to subcontractors or other workers, he or she may be held liable for injuries that occur in these types of work.

Contact Lynch Law Firm, PC

If you were injured in a construction accident and think you may have a case against the general contractor, call Lynch Law Firm, PC to schedule a free consultation. There is no obligation to take legal action if we find you have a case and your hire us to represent you.

Call Lynch Law Firm, PC at (800) 518-0508 or fill out a Free Case Evaluation form.

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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