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Fatal California construction accident leads to criminal charges

Construction companies have a duty to keep their workers safe from harm. When an accident at a construction site occurs, an investigation is launched to determine what happened. If there is any wrongdoing or negligence on the part of the construction company, fines and other penalties might occur. While it is unusual that a construction company executive will face criminal charges and penalties because of a construction accident, it isn't unheard of.

In a recent case, the owner and the project manager of a construction company was sentenced to two years in prison because of a preventable death. The fatal accident occurred when a 36-year-old day laborer was buried alive. Three days prior to the accident, a building inspector issued a stop-work notice for the site because the 12-foot-high excavation didn't have proper shoring.

Cal/OSHA determined that on the day of the fatal accident, the victim and other workers weren't wearing any head protection. The agency also determined that nobody who was competent for the excavation was present on the day the concrete retaining wall gave way and collapsed on top of the victim.

The construction company owner and the project manager were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in this case. While that might bring a small measure of comfort to the family, it doesn't help their emotional pain. It also doesn't help them to cover the financial impact of the loss of their loved one.

Anyone who loses a loved one in a construction accident might opt to hold the construction company accountable for the loss. Understanding how to do so is an important step for anyone who opts to seek compensation.

Source: Construction Dive, "CA construction execs sentenced to 2 years in prison for day laborer's 'preventable death'," Sharon O'Malley, Aug. 05, 2015

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