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Construction Site Injury: Determining Liability


On-the-job injuries are not uncommon in the construction world. It can be difficult to determine just who is responsible for a workplace accident, especially when multiple contractors and subcontractors are on site. But when the injuries are real, you want real solutions, as well. If you find yourself wondering just who is legally responsible for your injuries, you will want aggressive, experienced attorneys investigating on your behalf.

Negligence on a Construction Site: Who is Liable?

Negligence is frequently the factor that turns cases one way or the other in a court of law. Proving simple negligence, or gross negligence, can be tricky when dealing with multiple contractors and sub-contractors, especially because immunity exists in certain cases.

According to Florida law, if an employee’s company has workers’ compensation insurance, that employee cannot sue other contractors and subcontractors for an injury. The exception is when the employee’s injuries were caused by the gross negligence of another company.

Differentiating Between Simple Negligence and Gross Negligence.

Negligence refers to the failure to exercise reasonable care. An example might be leaving a cord out where someone might trip, or failing to lock a cupboard with cleaning chemicals in it.

Gross negligence is a deliberate decision that ignores the need to use reasonable care. A rational person could conclude that such a decision could predictably cause serious injury or harm to persons, property, or both.

Villalta vs. Cornn International

The case of Villalta vs. Cornn International involves the death of drywall finisher, Mr. Villalta, following a fall from scaffolding. Mr. Villalta’s estate sued multiple companies, including an HVAC company, Tropic Aire, who was subcontracting the job.

The plaintiff claimed that Tropic Aire was guilty of gross negligence because they had not properly covered a large “cut-out” hole in the floor, nor had they warned workers in the area of the hole.

Workers on the scene testified that a scaffold wheel became stuck in the “cut-out” hole, causing the scaffolding to lurch and throw Mr. Villalta to his death 16 feet below. The trial court found in favor of Tropic Aire, leaving Mr. Villalta’s estate to appeal.

The First Circuit then found that Tropic Aire had created the hole and had not properly covered or warned workers of the hazard. They were therefore potentially guilty of gross negligence. The court determined that it should be up to a jury to make the determination of simple negligence or gross negligence, and sent the case back for a jury trial. Immunity did not protect Tropic Aire because the potential of gross negligence was a factor in the case.

How to Proceed After a Construction Site Injury

Have you experienced an injury due to the negligence, or gross negligence of a contractor or subcontractor? Have you been told to simply accept the workers’ compensation settlement quietly? If so, it is possible that you are entitled to further damages.

The legal team at Scoma Law Firm in Clermont has seen cases like yours before. We know how to investigate cases and deliver verdicts in favor of injured workers. Contact us today for your confidential consultation.


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