Carpenter Injured by Crane in Hotel Construction Accident

Michael Talve, CEO

Written by
— Updated on February 3, 2020

construction expert witness

This case involves the owner of a hotel who hired a general contractor for a construction project. The general contractor employed a carpenter who worked on the project. The owner of the hotel also hired a subcontractor who employed a crane operator to work on the project. The crane operator was supposed to lift 200-lb pieces of plywood onto the framed roofing of a building using a c-clamp. The crane raised the plywood to the carpenters on the roof and then swung the clamp back to the ground. The carpenter who was working on the roof was struck in the head by the c-clamp after a sheet of plywood had been delivered. The carpenter sued the hotel’s owner and also sought to get worker’s compensation benefits for his injuries.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Can an employee of a subcontractor sue a property owner for an injury suffered on a construction project and also collect worker’s compensation benefits for his injury?

Expert Witness Response

The owner of a piece of property is only liable for the injuries suffered by an employee of a general contractor on a construction project if the owner of the property exercises complete discretion and control over the manner in which the general contractor does the work. An owner of property is only liable for the injuries suffered by the employee of a general contractor on a construction project if the owner controls more than merely the right to order the work to stop and start and the right to inspect or receive reports on the work. Also, if the owner of the property has knowledge of a danger on the property or reasonably should know about a danger on the property that may result in an injury to a general contractor’s employee and fails to warn the employee, the owner is usually liable for an injury suffered by the employee. In this case, the owner of the hotel is probably liable for the employee’s injury since they should have reasonably known that the c-clamp might be dangerous and might cause an injury to the carpenter. The only reason that the owner of the hotel might not be held liable in this case is if the state where the accident took place awarded worker’s compensation benefits for the carpenter for his injuries. If this were to happen, the general contractor would essentially have “paid benefits” to the carpenter for his injury and the owner of the property probably could not be sued again to get damages for the same injury.

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