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Property owners could be liable if construction workers fall

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2023 | Construction Accidents

New York has unique state laws that have helped employees for decades. Some of these laws went into effect long before there were federal statutes protecting workers. Labor Law 240 is a perfect example.

Also known as the Scaffolding Law, New York Labor Law 240 protects construction workers by creating liability for gravity-related incidents at construction sites. This law, instituted long before workers’ compensation benefits existed, has helped to ensure that those hurt due to unsafe construction sites have options after getting injured on the job.

The law creates liability for property owners and their agents

A property owner in New York seeking to have work done to maintain, expand or improve an edifice will often pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for the project. Keeping costs low is often a primary concern, but it should not be the only driving factor behind major decisions.

By imposing liability on property owners for gravity-related incidents, Labor Law 240 forces property owners to consider the well-being of contractors and other workers in addition to price. If the property owner hires a construction firm to do a project, that firm becomes the agent representing the owner during the construction.

If that agent fails to erect appropriate scaffolding, train workers or provide them with necessary gear, the liability for injuries that result could be astronomical. Therefore, property owners will often look carefully at a company’s track record regarding safety because of what the property owner could lose if a worker gets hurt.

The law limits employee losses

Although many construction workers could file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits if they get hurt, the benefits that they receive will leave a big gap. Specifically, disability or wage replacement benefits are often far lower than the standard paychecks received by construction professionals. A lawsuit filed against a negligent business or property owner can provide full compensation for lost wages instead of leaving a worker only eligible for a portion of the losses they incurred.

Seeking legal guidance and reviewing the circumstances of a worker’s injury can help them determine if Labor Law 240 or other New York statutes may help them obtain full compensation for their losses.