Home Build Accidents

New Home Build Accidents: Liability and Legal Protection for Home owners and Workers

NTZ Editor

New home builds have many moving parts, with the potential for accidents to happen throughout the construction process. When an injury occurs on a construction site, it can often be challenging to determine liability without the expertise of an experienced construction accident attorney. The laws are complex, and several parties are typically involved during the new home build who could be held liable for the accident, including the homeowner and general contractor (GC).

Homeowner’s Responsibility for Worker Safety During New Home Builds

Homeowners undertaking building projects often rely on general contractors to bear the sole burden of construction safety. A homeowner can typically limit his or her safety obligations with a contractual agreement specifying that the contractor and any other parties involved in the project are liable for worker injuries. However, if the homeowner exercises some control over the contractor’s work or takes any action on the project that causes or contributes to an injury, the homeowner may in part be held accountable.

The more closely a homeowner oversees the new home construction, the greater their personal liability for worker injuries.

General Contractor’s Responsibility for On-the-Job Safety During New Home Builds

A general contractor, who is typically the employer on the project, is responsible for the overall worker safety of the site. The GC must implement a safety plan that meets OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and local requirements. If the GC fails to follow these requirements, he or she can be held liable in a lawsuit for any injuries on the site of the new home build.

GCs must warn workers of any potential hazards and take the appropriate measures to protect workers from these hazards. Construction accidents typically occur due to falls, being struck by an object, electrocution, and being caught between two objects and compressed by them. Head, neck, and back injuries; fractured bones; internal injuries; burns; and amputations are the most common types of injuries for construction workers.

What Are the GC’s Responsibilities for On-the-Job Safety?

OSHA outlines several safety measures employers are responsible for, including the following:

  • Provide a workplace free of serious recognized dangers while adhering to OSHA standards, rules, and regulations.
  • Assess workplace conditions to ensure they meet applicable OSHA regulations.
  • Ensure employees can access and use safe tools and personal protection equipment (PPE). For example, OSHA requires that employees have proper protection when working near electrical power circuits. Also, whenever workers are working somewhere where they could fall six or more feet, OSHA requires a personal fall arrest system, safety net system, or guardrail system to be used. Head protection and other personal protective equipment must be worn on construction sites. In addition, all PPE must be properly maintained.
  • Use color codes, posters, labels, or signs to notify workers about potential hazards.
  • Provide safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.
  • Establish or revise operational procedures and disseminate them to ensure staff adhere to safety and health regulations.
  • Provide medical examinations and training when required by OSHA standards.
  • Post an OSHA poster (or the state-plan equivalent) at a prominent location within the workplace informing employees of their rights and responsibilities.
  • Report all work-related fatalities to the nearest OSHA office within 8 hours, and all work-related inpatient hospitalizations, all amputations, and all losses of an eye within 24 hours.
  • Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses. (Employers with 10 or fewer employees and employers in specific low-hazard industries are exempt from this requirement.)
  • Provide employees, former employees, and their representatives access to the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses.
  • Give employees access to their medical records and exposure records.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Injured Contractors

Construction workers in new home build accidents are eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits under New York state law. The GC is required to carry Workers’ Compensation coverage for all employees. If subcontractors are on the job, the GC should require them to furnish certificates of insurance showing proof of Workers’ Comp coverage. If a subcontractor does not have coverage, the GC is responsible for providing it. Workers’ Compensation will pay for medical expenses, rehabilitation, and lost wages (up to a certain amount) for an injured construction worker.

What Happens If a Worker’s Injury Is Due to an OSHA Violation?

If the injury is due to an OSHA violation, the responsible party (GC) will be cited and could face severe penalties. In addition, if an OSHA violation caused a worker’s injury, meaning that the company was at fault for not providing a safe work environment, there is an opportunity to pursue personal injury litigation. The citation can be used in a construction accident lawsuit.

Call the Law Office of Nicholas E. Tzaneteas

If you have been injured in a construction action, call us. We specialize in helping victims of construction accidents throughout the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. You may be entitled to significant financial compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. The Law Office of Nicholas E. Tzaneteas can offer you the legal representation required to protect your rights.

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