Construction machines, such as cranes and dozers, allow projects to be completed efficiently and with less manual labor. However, these machines can pose a significant risk of injury to the operators and the workers around them.
Over the time that construction vehicles have been used, certain safety features have been incorporated into protect the operator. However, roll cages and insulated cabins can’t protect an operator from everything. For example, an electrical wire could be buried and unmarked where a construction crew is digging. If the machine touches the wire, the operator could suffer electrical burns and severe nerve damage to the operator, among other complications. One question in this situation would be: who should be held liable for the operator’s injuries?
Who is Responsible?
If the cable was installed by a person or company that did not receive approval from the property owner or authoritative governmental agency, that person or company may be liable for the injury if that failure led to the accident. Finding the person or company that installed the cable without permission could be a challenge if it happened many years ago. However, the victim’s employer may still be at fault.
If the employer did not ask the city for a layout of where wires were buried, or if it failed to hire an inspector to search for underground wires before beginning the construction project. Unfortunately, in nearly every state employees cannot directly sue their employers in most circumstances because of workers’ compensation laws. In a workers’ compensation claim, the benefits kick in, regardless of fault, if the worker sustained an injury while at work.
It is also possible that the machine manufacturer is at fault. In this scenario, if the company that manufactured the machine (or a specific part of the machine) was negligent in its design or manufacture, it may be found liable under a theory of product liability. So, for example, if the company failed to design the machine in a way that would insulate the operator from an electrical charge, you may be able to pursue a defective product lawsuit against the manufacturer..
Consult with an Experienced Construction Accident Attorney
Obviously, this is a complicated area of the law and the type of claim you file and which parties you pursue will depend on the facts of your case. For that reason, if you suffered a serious injury while operating a machine during a construction project, you should always consult with an experienced construction accident attorney. An experienced attorney will have the resources to investigate the facts of your case, to determine who is responsible for your injuries, and how to best represent your interests.