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Construction Site Accidents and the Completed and Accepted Doctrine


Most responsible contractors work hard to make construction sites safe, but there are also those contractors that are more worried about the bottom line than safety. The negligence of these few subcontractors can leave employees and passersby at risk for serious injury. North Carolina continues to follow the “completed and accepted work doctrine” that, for whatever reason, helps protect these negligent subcontractors.

The completed and accepted work doctrine provides “that an independent contractor is not liable for injuries to third parties occurring after the contractor has completed the work and it has been accepted by the owner.” While the doctrine is not frequently used, it was cited in the recent case Lamb v. D.S. Duggins Welding, Inc. There, the North Carolina Court of Appeals was presented with a situation where a subcontractor had performed work, that work was subsequently altered by the general contractor, and an employee of the general contractor was injured. The Court found that the subcontractor was not liable both because the worked had been altered and because it had been completed and accepted.

Interestingly, Lamb appears to be the first North Carolina case where the completed and accepted doctrine was applied to bar a personal injury claim by the employee of a general contractor against a subcontractor. Historically, the doctrine had been applied in cases involving third parties such as passersby.

While the completed and accepted doctrine is strong protection for subcontractors, it does not completely bar a personal injury claim in many situations. If you have been injured in a construction accident, whether as an employee or third-party, you should consult with a knowledgeable Raleigh personal injury attorney. A thorough investigation will often disclose multiple parties that may be responsible for your injuries.

The Raleigh civil law firm of Maginnis Law has active personal injury and construction practices. Attorney Edward Maginnis represents a wide array of subcontractors and general contractors, while attorney Shawn Howard handles personal injury cases throughout the Raleigh-Durham area. To speak with a Maginnis Law civil litigation attorney regarding the completed and accepted work doctrine, call Ed at 919.526.0450 or Shawn at 919.480.8526. If you would like to send a confidential email inquiry, use our contact page. The firm regularly represents clients from Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Apex, Chapel Hill, Holly Springs, Garner, the surrounding Triangle area, and Fayetteville.

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