CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENTS AND NEW YORK’S “LABOR LAW”

| Nov 19, 2020 | Firm News |

The challenges of getting justice for badly injured construction workers in a complicated field of law.  

Devastating injury and death are common at New York Construction sites. Heights, heavy machinery, heavy materials and pressure to get things done  “now” take an awful toll on New York tradesmen and laborers. The result is  well paid careers cut short by injury and disability or even death.

Creedon & Gill attorneys  are uniquely qualified to handle difficult Labor Law cases. We have recovered millions for our client’s injured in construction accidents. We frequently teaching other attorneys about the  Labor Law. and have experiences like being lead counsel in an eight defendant matter  involving a worker paralyzed by  a fourth story fall or as attorneys for the lead Plaintiff among fourteen union tradesmen injured in an elevator disaster.

WHAT THE LABOR LAWS SAY​​​

There are three different laws that typically come into play in a construction accident case, and that does not count how Workers Compensation figures into the equation.

New York Labor Law Section 240(1) is sometimes called the  “Scaffold Law” or “Ladder Law”. It is unique because it  requires a finding of “strict liability” against Owners and General contractors in most situations where a construction worker is injured by a fall or struck by a falling object. Under the Scaffold Law, whether or not a worker had some role in causing his own accident is not taken into consideration. There is no such thing as “contributory negligence” in a case like this.

Section 240(1) of the Labor Law states:

All contractors and owners and their agents, except owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the work, in the erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning or pointing of a building or structure shall furnish or erect, or cause to be furnished or erected for the performance of such labor, scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes, and other devices which shall be so constructed, placed and operated as to give proper protection to a person so employed.

According to New  York Courts “Section 240 is intended to place the ultimate responsibility for building practices on the owner and general contractor in order to protect the workers who are required to be there but who are scarcely in a position to protect themselves from accidents,”

The Court’s say that this law is “to be liberally construed to achieve this purpose”, and that the law “impos(es) a non-delegable duty upon owners and general contractors to provide safety devices to protect workers from elevation-related risks, with liability attaching where violation of that duty proximately causes injuries.”

Two other Labor Law Sections apply to many other  construction site accidents.

New York Labor Law Section 241(6) “implements” – that is it gives legal life – to  New York’s Industrial Code. The Industrial Code describes  detailed and specific ways in which construction and demolition activities have to be conducted in New York; everything from how strong a cover over a hole in a floor has to be, to what kind of sling is necessary in a hoisting operation to  how often on going inspections have to be made in demolition work and even ensuring that the floor is kept clean of tripping hazards. Very often a worker is injured because a particular section of the Industrial Code has been violated. Some – but not all – of the Industrial Code sections are “specific” enough to cast Owners and General Contractors into damages. It requires a good attorney to know not only which is which, but how to prove the cause of an accident was because of the violation of a particular Industrial Code.

New York Labor Law Section 200 “codifies” what is known as the “Common Law” duty of an Owner and Contractor to maintain a safe place to work. Even if Sections 240(1) and 241(6) of the Labor Law do not apply to a workers accident, an owner or contractor’s  negligence in failing to maintain a safe place to work can still cast them in damages to an injured worker.

Damages. Workers injured in construction accidents are entitled to compensation for past and future pain and suffering, past and future economic damages and past and future medical expenses. Understanding how to calculate and prove these amounts to the fullest extent the law – and to beat back attempts to minimize these amounts – is  complicated and challenging and requires and expert understanding of  medicine, economics and vocational rehabilitation.

Workers Compensation In any construction accident case involving serious injury it is probable that Workers Compensation proceedings will play a significant role. At a minimum Workers Compensation carriers will be looking to be reimbursed for some portion of how much they have paid to an injured  worker in economic and medical payments. How this is handled can make a big difference in a payout to an injured worker at the end of the day.  Workers Compensation proceedings can also set expectations by how through testimony held at hearings, and by examinations done by Workers Compensation doctors who are not the injured worker’s friend. In some case what happens in the Workers Compensation cases can affect whether a worker can bring a lawsuit at all since it is not uncommon for employers to try and claim that a injured worker was really an “independent contractor” with no right bring a case.

If you have been seriously injured in a construction accident you should get the experienced construction accident attorneys of Creedon & Gill involved immediately. We will  take steps immediately to preserve crucial evidence in your case, evidence which might other wise disappear – either inadvertently as construction progresses or intentionally to hide the blame. An aggressive attorney will be in Court the same day you contact him to get an order to stop construction until your accident scene can be photographed and inspected by an expert.

An experienced construction accident attorney will help you with your workers compensation case, which  is a case within your case. An aggressive attorney will work closely with a top notch workers compensation attorney, or may handle your case himself  if there are unique circumstances, such as responsible parties trying to blame you for your own accident. If it is necessary for you to seek short or long term disability he will help guide you through that process.

​An experienced construction accident attorney will known the intricacies of New York’s complicated Labor Laws, and begin preparing your case for trial from the first day. He will know what experts are needed to help prove what went wrong in your case and who is responsible, what experts are needed to proved your medical damages and your past and future economic damages.

​An experienced construction accident attorney understands the kind of economic strain that an injury that puts a tradesman out of work can cause, and will work with you to do everything possible to lessen that strain. Creedon & Gill attorneys are experts in handling construction accident cases and will work tirelessly and passionately to get you the justice and compensation you deserve.