Construction Worker Killed By Falling Wall – Who May Be Found Liable?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

An Escondido construction worker was killed earlier this month when a brick wall fell on him, crushing him under its’ weight. The 51-year old man, later identified as Fernando Martinez, was taking lunch during his shift in El Cajon when a nearby residential wall collapsed.  Martinez was part of a construction crew working on a new car dealership. Other members of his crew were also injured.

Unfortunately, construction accidents are far too common in California, killing over 140 construction workers in 2015 alone. While OSHA is investigating the accident, it may take three to four months to sort out causation and determine liability for the accident. Among the possible contenders, liability could fall on:

  • The homeowner – if the homeowner whose wall collapsed knew or should have known that the wall was damaged or otherwise in danger of falling down, they could be held liable under premises liability claims.
  • The builder – if it is found that the person or company that built the wall did so improperly, then the builder may be found liable for Martinez’ death.
  • One or more construction companies – every construction site has a host of construction companies acting as general, prime or subcontractors. Every contractor has a legal obligation to ensure that the site is safe and that the appropriate building standards are being upheld. These companies could have been a part of the original construction, or part of the new construction
  • Inspectors – if the wall was permitted and inspected and it is found that the inspector missed a key fault in the construction of the wall, then that inspector may be held liable.
  • Martinez’ employer – construction employers have a duty to ensure that their worksites are safe a free of unreasonable danger. This may also include ensuring that break areas are safe from danger.
  • Current jobsite manager – if it was the manager’s responsibility to ensure the safety of the site and general welfare of the construction workers, then that manager may hold some liability as well.

At this point, there could be additional parties that may be found liable, including the owner of the adjacent land where the dealership was being constructed. The point is, construction accidents often implicate a multitude of parties that could be responsible in some part for the injuries that occurred as a result of the accident.

Of course, each of these parties will likely have some sort of insurance coverage for just this type of occurrence, so in addition, there will be a host of insurance companies that might be defending wrongful death a claim. In the event that you have been involved in a construction accident, talk to an attorney before you talk to an insurance company.

If you have been injured in a construction related accident, contact the construction accident lawyers at J&Y law for a free consultation to learn more about your rights.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.