January 20, 2021

Are Builders Liable for Personal Injuries Caused by Construction Defects?

A builder can be held liable for personal injuries caused by construction defects. However, once a building has been constructed and the residents have moved in, it is often difficult to know if a personal injury sustained on the premises is truly the fault of the builders. There are many factors that determine whether a builder can be held liable for a personal injury. Several of these factors include: if other parties should be held liable instead, the liability provisions in the contracts between all the parties, and the extent to which the owners made decisions about the building during its construction.

If Other Parties Should Be Held Liable

If a plaintiff in a personal injury case wants to prove builders’ liability for defects on his or her property, the individual should first consider that builders are not always the ones at fault. There are several other parties involved in the development of a building, like an architect or engineer, that could also be liable.

People seeking a lawsuit for Personal Injuries sustained in a building should consider who is actually at fault. Was it the architect’s unclear drawings? Was it the engineer’s bad math, or the builder’s substandard materials? If plaintiffs experience an injury but file a lawsuit against the wrong person, they may find themselves wasting a lot of time and money.

The Contractual Provisions Between the Parties

A plaintiff in a personal injury case should consider all the contracts that go into creating a building. All the parties mentioned above have contracts with one another. The architect signs a contract with the owner to design the building, and then another contract with the engineer to review the drawings. The owner enters into contracts with the builder to implement the plans. Meanwhile, the builder is involved in dozens of contracts with subcontractors that assist in the building.

All of these contracts include provisions outlining which party would be held responsible if an accident were to occur. Often, the responsibility is passed down the chain to the last people handling the project, meaning the owner will frequently require the builder to accept responsibility for defects. Because of this, builders are often more liable for accidents than other parties involved in creating a building.

The Extent to Which the Owners Made Decisions About the Building During Its Development

One way that liability can become unclear in a personal injury case is when the court considers the injured party’s involvement in his or her own injury. If the owner knew about the potential for an injury when the building was being developed, and then continued to build it, the claimant might struggle to prove the accident was the builder’s fault.

For instance, if a homeowner was on site several times a week during the construction of a new home, and he or she stayed current on all of the window installations, the owner may be open to liability if someone falls through a weak window. This could be especially true if the homeowner was told of practices that could cause construction accident injuries or personal injuries, and decided to go on anyway.