Visitor Question

Construction incident…

Submitted By: John (California)

I was hired to inspect a building under construction that had sat idle for four years. The new owners had the building for six months. I was in the dimly lit underground parking structure and fell into a sump well that had been left open and couldn’t be seen because of water pooling on the concrete.

This required two surgeries on my left index finger. Do I have a case for negligence? Who would it be against? Any info you could give would be appreciated. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear John,

Your first claim should be under workers’ compensation. Your employer’s workers comp insurance should have already covered the costs of your surgeries, out-of-pocket expenses, and about 2/3rds of your lost wages during the time of your surgery and recovery when you were unable to work.

As you likely already know, workers’ compensation does not pay for pain and suffering. In most cases, an on-the-job injury only entitles the employee to workers’ comp benefits. However, you may have a separate third-party personal injury claim against the building owners.

If you can prove the owners of the building knew, or should have known the sump had been left open, then you can file a separate personal injury claim against them. Learn more about liability in slip and fall claims here.

In a third-party claim, you would be entitled to the costs of your medical and therapy treatment, out-of-pocket expenses, ALL your lost wages, and an additional amount for your pain and suffering.

You should know, if you succeed in a third-party claim against the building owners and receive compensation, the workers’ comp insurance company will have a right to reimbursement from you for the amount of money they paid out for your medical and therapy bills, your expenses, and your lost wages.

You will have the right to keep the difference between the lost wages, and the money you receive for your pain and suffering.

Hopefully, at the time of your injury you or someone else took photos of the open sump. Those photos can be very important in the pursuit of your personal injury claim. So can witnesses. Even if you can’t find a witness who saw you fall, try and find one who will say they saw the sump opening prior to or after the date of your injury. Witness statements can be very important evidence in a claim like yours.

Gather your medical bills, photos, and witness statements and seek the counsel of several personal injury attorneys. Fortunately, most do not charge for an initial office consultation. If one or more attorneys believe your claim is viable, they will tell you. From there you can choose the attorney with whom you feel most confident.

Learn more here: Premises Liability Claims

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck!


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