Owners that hire a general contractor to handle their construction project may assume that they have no liability for issues or injuries that occur while the General Contractor or sub-contractors are working at the Nebraska project site.

However, if the construction project owner retains some control over the Nebraska site the owner may be subject to some liability. If an injury occurs because an individual fails to follow site rules, like safety regulations, their claim may be barred by the Nebraska comparative negligence statute.

In Nebraska, owner and contractor liability for injuries parties suffer at a construction site depends on the degree of control over the worksite that is retained.  The contract between the owner and contractor may establish delegation of responsibility for control of a site unless the duty is deemed nondelegable.   It is important for a Nebraska construction attorney to review agreements for construction of projects in Nebraska to confirm whether the general contractor is clearly responsible for control of the project site.

A general contractor, in control of the Nebraska premises where work is to be carried out, owes a duty to persons rightfully on the premises to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition while the contract is in the course of performance. Hand v. Rorick Const. Co., 190 Neb. 191, 206 N.W.2d 835 (1973). However, a Nebraska property owner may still be liable if the property owner retains sufficient control over the work done on the premises. See Dellinger v. Omaha Pub. Power Dist., 9 Neb.App. 307, 611 N.W.2d 132 (2000).

Nebraska is a contributory negligence state. This means that if an individual is more than 50% responsible for causing their own injury, they cannot recover.  NEB. REV. STAT. § 25-21,185.09 indicates that:

Any contributory negligence chargeable to the claimant shall diminish proportionately the amount awarded as damages for an injury attributable to the claimant's contributory negligence but shall not bar recovery, except that if the contributory negligence of the claimant is equal to or greater than the total negligence of all persons against whom recovery is sought, the claimant shall be totally barred from recovery. The jury shall be instructed on the effects of the allocation of negligence. 

The language of this section allows a jury to compare a plaintiff's contributory negligence to the negligence of a defendant or defendants. Shipler v. General Motors Corp., 271 Neb. 194, 710 N.W.2d 807 (2006). 

If there is an injury at your project site, you should contact a construction attorney to assist you in the litigation.  If the person was responsible for a great portion of the cause of their injury, by not following site safety rules for example, their claim may be barred by the Nebraska comparative negligence statute.

When you as an owner of real estate plan to have a construction project occur at your site, be sure that your Nebraska construction agreement clearly indicates that the general contractor is responsible for controlling safety at the site.  You should routinely stop by the site to ensure that everyone is wearing hard hats and that other general safety guidelines are being followed.  If there is an injury at your site that is at least partially caused by an individual’s failure to follow safety regulations, or their own conduct in another manner, their claim may be barred by the Nebraska comparative negligence statute. For questions regarding injuries at a project site, contact an attorney at our Sioux Falls, Sioux City, or Omaha office today.

Angela Madathil is happy to assist Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri commercial and residential property owners review their construction agreements. 

Angela Madathil is a Nebraska Construction Attorney and provides legal assistance to Contractors, Roofing Companies, Siding Companies, Architects, and Engineers in Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas.   This can involve contract review and negotiation, ongoing contract guidance during a project, and risk mitigation when issues arise.  The Goosmann Law Firm team advises Contractors, Architects, and Engineers throughout the Midwest and has attorneys licensed in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and other states.


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