Lashaun Price, a Newport News resident, was injured as she watched the Independence Day fireworks on the 28th Street bridge in Newport News, Virginia earlier this month. When it began to rain after the firework display, Price headed towards her home with her children. As she walked home, Ms. Price fell into an open construction hole full of water. The hole was about 3 feet deep. After being helped out of the hole, Ms. Price noticed a large cut on her leg. The wound required 12 stitches.
A Newport News city spokesperson explained that the construction hole was dug in order to fix a leak. The spokesperson said the subcontractor, Denbigh Construction, is responsible for job safety on the site.
A Denbigh Construction representative commented that "his workers likely left an orange barrel in the empty hole, and left barrels and tape around the perimeter. He said he was not at the job site on the date in question and could not say for a fact that any safety measures were put in place." The representative also said it is not the company’s fault if a person or a weather event removes any safety measures after workers leave the job site.
Virginia has very specific laws when it comes to whether an employer can be vicariously liable for the actions of an independent subcontractor. In general, if the subcontractor acted as an employee and his actions were in the scope of his employment then the employer can be held responsible for a subcontractor's negligence. There are certain duties that an employer cannot delegate, however, and one of those relates to job safety. The safety of public is always an employer's concern. Keeping one's premise in a reasonably safe condition is a non-delegable duty, or a duty that an employer cannot delegate to a subcontractor. The back and forth between the city spokesperson and the representative from Denbigh Construction in this matter speaks to the tension between an employer and subcontractor when it comes to this very sort of disgareement.
This case will certainly require some detailed analysis and the perspective of an experienced personal injury law firm like ours could be of some help. We hope the victim has recovered from her injuries and will seek out the compensation she deserves. If you or a loved one has been involved in a similar incident and been injured, please contact us today.