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Determining responsibility for construction site injuries

Construction workers in Illinois are probably aware that there are many dangers associated with their profession. Although there are some federal protections in place through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there may inevitably be certain hazards that are always present, such as the risk of being struck by moving or falling machines. Construction workers may also face health risks if they are exposed to asbestos or other chemicals.

If an employer fails to maintain functional and safe equipment, that employer may potentially be found liable for damages stemming from construction workers' accidents. To determine which party is liable in the event of an injury, it may be necessary to look at the roles of each individual involved in the construction project. Larger projects generally involve more delegation, and it may be hard to determine the extent of one party's control over the premises where the accident occurred. Whether an employer has insurance at the time of construction is also relevant, as would be the role of equipment manufacturers if a mechanical defect is alleged.

Landowners may not always be considered the legal possessors of the area on which construction work is being performed. General contractors, however, have a legal duty to warn their subordinates of any defects or hazards that are in place at the worksite or inherent in the work. Subcontractors also have a legal duty of care, and the duties of contractors extend to hiring competent employees who can effectively implement safety regulations.

Even if a workplace injury does not appear to be the fault of any particular party, an employee may still be able to recover for his or her injuries by filing a workers' compensation claim. Construction workers who suffer on-the-job injuries may want to speak with a workers' compensation attorney to determine what information is needed to file the claim.

Source: findlaw.com, "Construction Injury Overview", September 07, 2014

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