Seasoned Sacramento Injury Attorneys
Request a Free Case Review 916.571.0400

Who Is Liable in a Construction Vehicle Injury?

Everything we do involves some degree of risk. If you drive a car, you could get into an accident. Even if you stay home all day, you risk the damage of being sedentary. All jobs, then, have their associated risks. Office workers can develop carpal tunnel syndrome, and factory workers can be burned by chemicals.

Construction is a high-risk job. There are heavy tools and dangerous equipment everywhere. Workers’ compensation is a good cushion when you’re engaged in dangerous work, but if you were injured by someone’s negligence, you may need to take other measures.

What if you were involved in a construction vehicle accident? Who is responsible for your injuries? In order to determine the liability, you have to answer some questions.

Where Did the Injury Take Place?

Construction vehicles belong in one place: on construction sites. There are hardly any excuses for someone using them as a mode of transportation. If someone is driving a forklift down the street and hurts someone else, it’s almost certain that they will be held responsible. Their behavior was illegal and irresponsible.

Even when workers are on residential streets rebuilding sidewalks, there should be safety measures in place. Areas should be taped or coned off, and someone should be keeping an eye on cars and pedestrians. If you were hurt by a construction vehicle in a residential area, that’s likely the fault of the management for keeping a disorderly site.

These situations are uncommon. Most construction vehicle accidents take place on the job site. If you’re a worker, and you were hurt by a vehicle, there are many potential parties who could be held responsible.

Was the Vehicle Defective?

First and foremost, ask yourself how you were hurt. Were you hit by a vehicle driven by a coworker, or did the machine itself injure you? When the machine itself is the culprit, it’s time to start investigating that machine.

This is where your lawyer’s skills come in. They can do the legwork and start looking at the history of said vehicle. Have there been multiple complaints from workers against that machine? If so, you may be looking at a vehicle defect. Defects are the responsibility of the manufacturer. When the very design of the machine is likely to cause injury, it is defective. Defects may also exist in certain parts that allow the vehicle to function incorrectly. Your lawyer can trace the origins of the machine and its parts and begin building a case to hold the manufacturer responsible for your accident.

Did Management Make Bad Decisions?

Liability isn’t always a straight line from one person to another. Yes, your employer may not have been driving the machine that hurt you, but their behavior could still be directly responsible. Managers have a responsibility to create an orderly, safe environment. Everyone should be assigned their areas and their work. If you have a chaotic environment with vehicles and workers moving about randomly, you’re asking for trouble. Your lawyer will assess the work environment and decide if mismanagement is the reason for your injuries.

It’s also helpful to ask yourself who was operating the machinery. Managers should be confirming that they’re giving the right jobs to the right people. Only trained, experienced professionals should be operating dangerous machinery. Lazy and/or oblivious managers who put the brand-new kid in the bulldozer should know better. When the new person inevitably ends up hurting themselves or someone else because they weren’t trained properly, it’s management’s fault, not the worker’s.

Who Owns the Vehicle?

If you were hurt by the vehicle itself, it may not be due to a defect. It may be because it was worn down and needed repairs. The owner of the vehicle is responsible for its upkeep.

Chains of ownership get murky around construction vehicles. It could be argued that these grey areas are intentional, especially in big, corporate jobs. If your employer owns the vehicle, the line of responsibility is clear: they are responsible for its upkeep. If your employer rented the vehicle, that’s where things become nebulous.

Everyone wants to distance themselves from liability, and renting is a great way to do that. Renters can argue that they aren’t responsible for your injuries because they didn’t have control of the vehicle. Employers can say that they aren’t liable because they don’t own the machines. This is another area where your lawyer comes in handy. They can read through the rental agreements and find who is responsible for the upkeep of the vehicle and who should be held responsible for your injuries.

Was the Vehicle’s Operator Doing Their Job?

It’s uncomfortable to consider that your coworker may be at fault, but it may be the reality. The vehicle was operating fine, the job site was well run, and your coworker was qualified to run the machine. When all those boxes are checked, you have to look at the behavior of the coworker connected to the accident.

Sincere accidents do happen where no one is at fault. However, it’s also possible that your coworker was negligent in their behavior. Were they taking unnecessary risks? Maybe they were lifting or hauling too much weight, which caused an accident. Perhaps they weren’t paying attention or they had been drinking.

No one likes the thought of bringing down a fellow worker, but your medical bills can start piling up, especially if you have to miss work to recover. A good lawyer will hear your concerns. They can fight to make sure you get the compensation you need without overly punishing your coworkers.

If you’ve been hurt by a construction vehicle, schedule a free consultation with us. There’s no risk in talking to us, so call (916) 571-0400 or contact us online today.