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Building site accident compensation

Working on a building site brings certain risks. Unlike an office job, by working on a building site you are in danger of incurring serious injuries by falling off scaffolding, being hit by loose parts falling from far above or improper use of tools and heavy equipment. Building site workers must be provided with safety equipment such as steel toe capped shoes and hard hats to prevent the most obvious and dangerous accidents. Health and safety of the workers should be building site employers’ primary priority, overshadowing the need for completing the job on time.

How do the accidents occur?

Most accidents on a building site occur as a result of someone’s negligence and not taking the necessary safety precautions. Some common injuries include minor cuts and bruises, broken limbs, amputations and even, in the most extreme circumstances, death. All the heavy machinery used at a building site needs to be used properly and all the workers operating it must receive training and be confident they are capable and qualified to use it. It is the employer’s responsibility to protect the health and safety of all their employees.

What the court will assess

Liability – the first question for the court is whether the defendant was responsible for the accident and therefore whether they are legally obliged to pay compensation. For the courts to find liability in negligence, the likely cause of action for these types of claims, they must consider:

  • Duty of care – the court must find that the defendant had the claimant in their contemplation while acting or failing to act. Most of these types of claims are either against an employer or fellow employee. Employers have an automatic duty of care to their employees and are also vicariously liable for the actions of other employees.
  • Breach of duty – the court must find that the defendant has acted in such an unreasonable way that no reasonable person in their position would have done the same thing. Breaches can include a failure to provide adequate training, a failure to provide adequate safety equipment, forcing employees to work long shifts without breaks, forcing employees to lift heavy items, failing to maintain machinery or equipment and not warning against dangers or hazards.
  • Causation – the court must find that the accident happened as a result of the breach of duty. In other words, ‘but for’ the breach of duty the accident would not have occurred. This will turn on the individual facts of a case. An example could where an employer has failed to provide steel toe capped shoes to their employees and during the demolition of a building a brick falls on the toes of a worker, breaking her toes. If it can be demonstrated that steel toe capped shoes would have prevented the injury then causation would be made out.
  • Foreseeability – the court needs to find that the accident was reasonably foreseeable, this simply filters out any claims for accident which were entirely out of the hands of the defendant and it would not be fair to find them liable.

Quantum  – Once it has been established that as a result of the breach of duty of the defendant the claimant has suffered injury or incurred loss then the court must decide how much to award in compensation. Sometimes liability is accepted by the defendant and then the only question for the court is one of quantum. In assessing quantum a court will look at any available medical evidence and award compensation firstly for any injuries and secondly for any long term consequences of those injuries. There are tables which can be referred to in order to gauge the amounts courts are likely to award for various injuries.

What to do

It is sensible to go and see a specialist solicitor for  advise on your chances of success, the likely amount of compensation and what procedure to follow. We can help, so please contact us today to start your claim assessment.

Call us for free: 0800 015 5500