New York State sakes its obligation to protect workers very seriously. Sections of common law – the law that evolved from old English law over time – have been put into written state law and specifically state a duty of care owed by a general contractor and/or an employer to protect workers. Sections 200, 240, and 241(6) of the New York state labor law all state specific rights and privileges that construction workers possess.
Sections 200 and 241(6) explicitly state that reasonable care must be used in the maintenance of a work site. Section 240 is somewhat more unique – referred to as the “Scaffolding Law,” it creates a cause of action in strict liability designed for workers who are injured by falling scaffolding, pulleys, stays, ladders, and the like, as sometimes these injuries would not qualify as actionable injuries previously. It also takes it a step further and expands the cause of action to those injured by things falling from scaffolds and the like; while sometimes incidents are not actionable, sometimes falling projectiles can cause serious injury. New York state lawmakers believe serious injuries should be grounds for suit.
This sort of specific law is a huge step forward for workers’ rights, because previously employers were often able to argue that an injury was not related to any kind of breach of a duty of care – that construction sites were simply dangerous. While they are correct that there are many dangers on a worksite, that does not mean that any of them are somehow excluded from liability if the environment is unsafe. Some of the causes of action that have been accepted in New York courts are:
- Scaffolding accidents;
- Run over by equipment;
- Explosions and/or fires on-site;
- Compressor/other equipment defects;
- Supervisor negligence;
- Accidental electrocution;
- Struck by falling objects; and
- Stuck in/between objects.
The last four are referred to by industry experts as the “Fatal Four” – in 2013, these four types of injury caused over half of the country’s worker fatalities.
It is important to remember that while some construction accidents qualify for workers’ compensation, some do not, especially if you are an independent contractor and not a regular employee. While Section 240 is an exception to the rule that workers cannot generally sue for injuries sustained on the job, if you are in regular employ, you will likely choose to seek redress via workers’ compensation or third-party claim.
Representation Can Make The Difference
If you have been injured in a construction accident, you will have a thousand questions to answer. It is important that you get the best advice possible on what to do in the future. The New York Lawyers boast skilled personal injury attorneys with a long history of success. Contact us for a free initial consultation, and we will discuss your options.