How to Prove Negligence in a Construction Accident Injury Claim

Table of Contents

    In an injury claim, negligence is the cause of action that you bring in court to get compensation.  It has a few core elements you need to meet, which requires bringing the right kind of evidence and testimony to court.

    Negligence is made up of four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages.  In construction cases, you usually prove this by showing that the accident happened because of something your employer did wrong or problems with defective gear or equipment, though there can be other ways to prove negligence, too.  In these cases, testimony from other workers, security camera footage, and records about supplies, repairs, and other actions can all be helpful evidence, alongside medical records.

    Contact our construction accident lawyers today for help with your case by calling The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940.

    Elements of Negligence in a Construction Accident Case

    As mentioned, negligence is the cause of action you bring.  In civil lawsuits, the specific claim you file will usually be negligence as opposed to something like assault, battery, or breach of contract when it comes to injury claims.  There are sometimes restrictions on bringing this cause of action against a direct employer, though many contractors do not face this restriction.

    In order to prove a negligence claim, there are four elements you have to show:


    A duty is a legal requirement that the defendant was supposed to have met.  In construction cases, this can often be supplied by something like OSHA requirements or other safety requirements imposed by state and federal agencies.  There may be rules about hard hats, other personal protective equipment (PPE), scaffolding, power tools, electricity, and other things that deal with how a construction site is supposed to operate.

    A duty can also be the duty to act reasonably in a given situation.  For example, if someone is holding a ladder for you, they should pay attention, use both hands, etc.  They should not be horsing around or distracted, or else the ladder – and the construction worker on the ladder – could fall.


    A violation of a legal duty is known as a “breach.”  OSHA violations that lead to injuries, as well as other instances of regulatory violations, can easily supply the breach element in your case.  Alternatively, any unreasonable actions would be considered a breach of the duty of reasonableness discussed above.


    You have to link the injury to the breach of duty by showing that that breach was what caused the injury or accident.

    Causation requires two types of causation.  First, there must be factual causation, in that the breach actually, logically, led to the injury happening.  Second, there has to be “proximate” causation, showing that the breach was connected closely enough to the accident that it can be considered the “legal” cause.

    Something like a car crashing into a construction crew on the roadside makes for a good example of how causation works.  If the driver was drunk, that factually caused the crash because it would not have happened but for the driver’s intoxication.  You may even be able to say that a bar that sold drinks to the drunk driver could be at fault under your state’s “dram shop” rules.  However, you cannot consider something like a dealership selling the car to the driver when they were sober to be a “proximate” cause because it was so far removed from the incident.


    There must be damages in your case for you to sue.  Construction accidents often cause serious injuries like head and brain injuries, back and spinal injuries, amputation, or serious cuts, scrapes, and broken bones.  The presence of a physical injury is enough to prove you have damages from the accident, but there will also be financial or “economic” damages in most cases.  These often come in the form of medical bills to treat the injury, lost earnings while you cannot work, and other incidental expenses related to the accident and your needs during your recovery.

    Evidence Needed to Prove Negligence in Your Construction Accident Case

    To prove these elements in court, you need to supply evidence.  Evidence can come in many different forms, but the following are some of the most common in a construction accident case:

    The Victim’s Testimony

    Your own story about what happened will be the foundation of your case.  You can get on the stand and say what happened to you, how the accident occurred, what you saw leading up to the accident, what someone else did wrong, and how the accident and injuries affected your life.  All of this will help us tell the broader story about the accident as well as prove specific elements.  Your testimony will also be vital in proving non-economic damages by explaining your pain and suffering to the court.

    Other Witness Testimony

    Other people who saw the accident can back up your story by telling the court what they saw.  Coworkers, managers, supervisors, and even people on the street might have seen the accident, and we can call them to the stand to give their view of the events.  Having other people who can support your claim is vital and helps make a strong case.

    Video and Photos

    If there was video of the accident as it happened – such as footage from a security camera – this objective evidence can be even stronger than witness testimony.  In cases with video evidence, the jury can see what happened for themselves.  This also helps make witness testimony stronger if the video backs up your claim.

    Photos might not show the accident happening, but they can often show the aftermath.  This might let the jury see the layout of the accident scene, at the very least.  It might also show the position of certain items involved in the injury, where you were when you were injured, and any problems with broken or defective equipment in the shot.


    Records showing that safety gear was not purchased or that scaffolding was not checked after setup could all come into your case to prove what went wrong to lead to your accident.

    Expert Testimony

    Experts can be called to testify about specialized technical or scientific information.  Especially if your injury was caused by defective PPE, power tools, or other equipment, we might need to have someone in the industry that makes these materials and products come in to explain how it was supposed to work and what was wrong or unsafe about the items involved in your case.  Experts can also be used to reconstruct accidents, explain economic losses to the jury, and more.

    Call Our Construction Accident Attorneys Today

    Contact The Reiff Law Firm for a free case assessment with our Philadelphia construction accident lawyers by calling (215) 709-6940 as soon as you can.

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