According to a recent article in the San Jose Mercury News, two California construction executives have been sentenced to prison for their role in causing the death of a day laborer who was buried alive when a concrete retaining wall collapse on top of him. The incident occurred just three dates after a city inspector had issued a “stop work” notice due to heavy rains a lack of shoring on the 12-foot-high excavation. The owners did not inform workers of the notice and continued operations at the site.
An investigation into the accident by Cal/OSHA revealed several additional safety violations, including that the victim and his co-workers’ lacked any head protection at the time of the accident, and the failure to have any “competent person for excavation” supervising the job site. Further, the company allegedly failed to pay a number of the subcontractors, who then walked off the job leaving the construction site under staffed. The company also failed to obtain the required permits for the project.
Receiving a prison sentence as the result of a work place accident is rare, even when the accident is fatal. Typically, when workers are injured at construction site, they may be able to filed a workers compensation claim, or in some situations the workers and his or her family may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation or damages. However, in this instance the owners’ actions were so egregious as to be criminal. One observer expressed outrage and noted “hopefully the sentence will serve as a warning to people in the construction industry that they will be held responsible if the aren’t following safety rules.”
For more information, or if you or a loved one has been injured at a construction site, contact the experienced Oakland construction accident legal team at Butler Viadro, LLP for an immediate consultation.