A common myth in construction site accident litigation deals with the relationship between general contractors and sub-contractors. There’s a myth that we’ve heard that basically says that if a general contractor hires a sub-contractor, and then the sub-contractor is really the one that makes the mistake and does the safety hazard that leads to the accident, then the general contractor is off the hook and they cannot be liable. This is simply untrue, because the labor law involves what’s known as a non-delegable duty. So, the owner of the construction site has an absolute, non-delegable duty and absolute liability to the injured construction worker to make the construction site and workplace safe. They cant just say, ‘oh, I hired this particular sub-contractors, who were supposed to bring their own ladders and they were supposed to be safe ladders and they were supposed to do their own housekeeping, but this particular sub-contractor left pieces of rocks on the ground and put one of the ladders on the rocks, causing the ladder to sway and fall. Therefore, I’m off the hook as the owner. It’s all the fault of the sub-contractor’.
It’s simply cannot work like that because 240, known as the scaffold law, basically says that the owner and the general contractor has absolute liability and cannot delegate, or point the finger, to blame anyone else. They have to pay the injured client. Their insurance is the one that’s primary and the insurance will recover from them. Now, the injured client can also sue a sub-contractor, if they could prove the sub- contractor was also at fault and at the end of the case after the client gets paid, then perhaps the general contractor can then sue for indemnification, against the sub-contractor to get the money back because the sub-contractor is the one who made the mistake, but it does not concern the injure plaintiff, the injured construction worker— they can recover from all available sources.
So, that’s one of the myths of construction site litigation that should be debunked because it simply isn’t true. .