Work site accidents happen every day throughout the U.S., and some of the incidents are fatal for the employee. In these situations, the employer is very often held liable in civil court for the fallout of the accident. What isn’t so common, though, is for the employer to be held criminally responsible for the accident.
In a rare case, a construction company operator was recently convicted of homicide after one of his workers was fatally injured at work.
Reports say that the deceased employee, Luis Sanchez Almonte, was killed as a result of criminal negligence, and the whole incident could have reportedly been avoided if employers had taken heed to safety warnings. Almonte was crushed by over 15,000 pounds of debris after complaining that the wall he was working on was at risk of collapsing. Other workers had also expressed concerns that the worksite was unsafe.
After the accident, it took emergency responders over 28 hours to access Almonte. It remains unclear whether the victim could have been saved if so much debris had not been piled on top of him. After investigating the situation, the city came to the conclusion that the construction company operator and others in charge of the job site ignored safety warnings and intentionally attempted to cut corners, which caused safety risks.
They believe that the death was a preventable tragedy that would’ve been avoided if safety precautions were followed. Liu and Garcia, the site’s foreperson and the construction company operator, were both charged with criminally negligent homicide. Liu was sentenced to serve 16 years in prison.
Worksite Safety and Criminal Negligence
As you’d imagine, any type of intentional harm done to someone else is usually considered a crime. When harm is caused by unintentional action or inaction, however, things become much less clear. Negligence describes the legal breach of a duty to care for the safety of someone else. Employers always have a legal duty to provide for the safety of their employees. When an employer is negligent, then they usually assume legal liability for the fallout of that accident according to civil laws.
Criminal negligence describes the same type of breach of a duty to provide for the care of others, but it also presupposes that the negligence reached an egregious level. Being overly reckless or operating with a wonton disregard for the safety of your employees could reach the standard of criminal behavior.
If you’ve been accused of committing criminal negligence, then we advise you to consult with a lawyer ASAP. You can schedule a case review with our office now to discuss your charges in more detail with one of our attorneys.