NY Scaffolding Law – An Overview

The construction industry is fraught with danger. Despite the many federal, state and municipal regulations designed to keep construction workers safe, thousands are still injured annually in construction site accidents. Construction workers are hurt in falls from scaffolding, are struck by falling equipment, are crushed in accidents and are sometimes entangled in machinery.

In most states, workers who are injured on the job receive only worker’s compensation benefits. This means that they may not sue their employers for their injuries and are limited to recovering the amount provided by the state’s worker’s compensation statutes.

In New York, however, there are special provisions for workers injured by or on scaffolds, ladders, hoists, stays, slings, hangers, pulleys, irons, ropes, blocks, braces and other similar devices. A special section of the New York Labor Law, known as the “Scaffolding Law,” allows injured workers to bring lawsuits against the party or parties responsible for their falls. If you or a loved one have been injured in a workplace fall, contact Andrew L. Weitz & Associates, P.C. in New York, New York. An attorney experienced in New York scaffolding law can evaluate your case.

What is the “Scaffolding Law?”

Commonly referred to as the “Scaffolding Law”, Section 240 of the New York Labor Laws governs the use of scaffolding and other devices for the use of employees. The law primarily requires contractors, owners and their agents (with some limited exceptions) in the act of erecting, demolishing, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning or pointing of some structure to be responsible for providing necessary equipment (e.g. scaffolds, ladders, hoists, stays, slings, hangers, pulleys, irons, ropes, blocks, braces and other similar devices) to keep workers safe from on-the-job falls.

Since enactment of the original Scaffolding Law in the early part of the 20th century, courts have interpreted the law to grant workers injured in falls the ability to bring civil actions against the contractor and the owner of the property responsible for the safety of the jobsite. Courts have generally found that contractors and owners are strictly liable when a worker is injured or killed in a fall – the worker (or the worker’s surviving family) does not need to prove that the contractor or owner was negligent. An employer may be liable to an injured worker or a deceased worker’s family even if there were no per se violations of OSHA or local building and safety codes. Unlike many other types of injury lawsuits, an injured worker’s own negligence, unless the sole and proximate cause of his or her injuries, will not typically preclude recovery under the Scaffolding Law.

The Scaffolding Law understands the special considerations necessary to protect those who work at a height. Falls are common causes of workplace accidents, both in and out of the construction industry, and thousands of workers are injured or killed in workplace falls each year. Sadly, many of these falls were preventable, and might not have happened if contractors and owners had followed federal, state and local safety regulations

Third Party Liability

In addition to property owners and contractors, several other parties may be responsible for a construction site accident. For example, the manufacturers of construction equipment are presumed to have designed and built safe tools and equipment. If tools and equipment fail, the manufacturers may be liable for any injuries caused by that failure. In other cases, the responsibility for an injury may lie with architects, engineers, scaffolding companies, suppliers or fellow workers. Third party claims can be complex. An attorney experienced in these types of cases can evaluate your claim and determine if any third parties may be responsible or share liability for your injuries.

Conclusion

Construction is a very dangerous industry. Despite the prevalence of federal, state and local rules designed to make the construction industry safer, the unfortunate fact is that thousands of workers every year are injured or killed at construction sites. Injured workers should act quickly to make sure their claims are presented in the best way possible. Contact Andrew L. Weitz & Associates, P.C. in New York, New York as soon as possible to speak with a personal injury attorney experienced with bringing claims under the New York Scaffolding Law.

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