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Who is liable for an accident caused by debris left by construction work?

The construction process is rarely a clean one. Between the materials for tearing down and the process of building, there is a lot to maintain and, ultimately, remove from the site.

Construction crews also work on tight deadlines and the company that hires them is often in a rush to get to the next phase of the project. After all, the more time spent "in construction" is time where a company is losing money. Moving through the process too quickly can be dangerous since materials left behind can cause an injury for the same people the project was meant to help.

With all of the people and groups involved in a construction project, it can be difficult to determine who is responsible when someone is injured by leftover construction debris. Here's what to consider when trying to figure out who is liable for your injury.

What measures did the construction crew take to ensure the site was clean?

Ultimately, the construction company in charge of the project is responsible for cleaning up the site. Some companies will hire an outside group that specializes in construction clean up to take care of what is left behind, but in either situation, the construction company is responsible for making sure there has been a reasonable effort to make sure the site is clean.

What debris was left behind?

Even after construction is complete, there are still multiple parties who must maintain safe walkways in areas that are open to guests. When a business hires an outside company to take care of a remodel or other construction on their property, often that agreement includes clean-up.

Generally, if the construction company tried to clean the area and left behind a small amount of debris or another small item, they will not be liable for an injury. When there is no demonstrated effort to clean up the site, or there are larger pieces of debris, that points to negligence and potential liability.

What about small debris?

Just because a smaller piece of construction debris caused your injury, does not mean you do not have a claim. Once the construction company has made a reasonable effort to clean the site, person or entity that owns the property becomes responsible for injuries that happen on the property.

While there are limits for when someone is liable for injuries from construction debris, the property owner is responsible for taking reasonable precautions to make the property as safe as possible. Waste that is left behind from construction is something the owner should know about and should take care to remove so that it is not a hazard.

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