Catastrophic failures, such as foundational and structural damages, have become commonplace in the construction industry over the years. Unlike minor construction defects that usually lead to mild damages or aesthetics issues, construction failures may result in massive damages with serious consequences.
These failures may cause a collapse of parts or the whole building. They may endanger neighboring buildings, community projects, and drainage vault systems. If a building collapses when a person is on the site or just passing by, he or she may be at risk of severe injuries, long-term mental health conditions, infections, and even death.
Main Causes of Catastrophic Construction Failures
- Poor Planning
Catastrophic construction failures may happen due to poor planning or lack of planning. It’s up to site supervisors and contractors to assess potential risks and issues at the construction site and carefully plan for emergencies before starting the construction process. They must account for weather conditions like heavy rains, natural calamities like earthquakes, and a variety of other potentially destructive events that may happen during the building’s lifespan.
- Use of Defective Materials
Contractors may attempt to speed up the construction process and save some money by using cheap, poor quality, and defective building materials. Such building materials rarely meet the required standards and the outcome is a structure that is at a higher risk of catastrophic failure.
- Poor Craftsmanship and Defective Design
Failures in design and workmanship can also result in catastrophic construction failure. Architects must follow specific steps to ensure all elements of the envisioned design complement each other and are structurally robust. When they take shortcuts to speed up a project, they may overlook important design defects. The outcome will be a structure that cannot withstand the size or weight of the constructed property.
- Instability of the Construction Project
Before starting the construction process, the site needs to be thoroughly inspected to establish whether the area is ideal for the upcoming project. A construction project standing on a site with loose soil or shaky ground may cause a shift in the underlying land. Once this happens, the building is likely to collapse.
How Construction Negligence is Determined in Courts
When a victim contracts construction professionals, he or she trusts them to use an acceptable level of skill, care, and craftsmanship. If they cause catastrophic construction failures or injuries because of their negligent behavior, the victim can recover losses by filing a claim or suing the responsible party or parties. An attorney must, however, prove these four elements:
Duty of Care
This element involves proving that the builder owed a duty of care. He or she had a duty to adhere to all relevant building codes during the construction process.
Breach of Duty
The attorney must demonstrate that the builder breached his or her duty. The builder acted negligently and did not fulfill contract terms.
Cause in Fact
The attorney must demonstrate that the behavior of the builder resulted in construction damages, financial loss, or injury. If the builder had honored his or her duty of care, the injury or loss suffered could have been avoided.
An attorney must also demonstrate that the negligent actions of the builder caused real construction damages to the victim.