A construction site can be a dangerous place. Working at height at a construction site creates additional hazards as a fall from height can lead to serious injuries or death. Because of the dangers of serious injury and death due to construction site hazards, New York has special rules to protect construction workers, including those working on ladders, scaffolds and at height.
The State of New York imposes absolute liability upon an owner or contractor, for failing to provide or erect safety devices necessary to give proper protection to a worker, who sustains injuries caused by that failure. Construction workers in New York are protected by gravity related risks (i.e. falling from a height, or objects falling from a height and injuring them) by Labor Law Section 240(1) which states that:
1. 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.
Just recently a New York appellate division court held that a worker was entitled to to recovery for injuries suffered, when he sustained injuries during the course of his employment, when a ladder which he was using to descend from a scaffold shifted and fell, causing him to fall to the ground. Mills v. City of New York (2016 NY Slip Opinion 07165).
Thus if a construction worker falls because he was provided with an improper ladder or scaffold, he was not provided with a ladder or scaffold, or the ladder or scaffold collapsed, the owner and/or contractor will be held liable for the injuries suffered by the worker.
The same result will be had if the fall is due to the failure to provide a safety harness, tie, lanyard, or other appropriate device meant to keep a worker from falling from a height.
Such is the case because the ultimate responsibility for safety practices at building construction jobs is on the owner and general contractor.
Injured construction workers often can not return to work due to the inability to perform the rigors of manual labor due to their injuries. Because of this, damages may not only include pain and suffering, and medical expenses, but also lost wages, possibly for the rest of their lives. Family members of construction workers who die on the job may also be entitled to bring a claim for damages including wrongful death.
Because owners and contractors of construction sites can be found 100% at fault for all of the injuries and damages suffered from a construction worker who falls from a height, regardless of whether or not they knew of the dangerous condition, and regardless of the fact that the worker may have been partially at fault, lawyers and insurance companies for the owners and contractors hotly defend against lawsuits brought against them by injured workers or their survivors. Because of this it is important that injured construction workers and their families retain a NY personal injury lawyer experienced in handling construction accident ladder, scaffold and fall cases.
Zalman Schnurman & Miner PC are NY personal injury lawyers experienced in handling construction accident cases, including falls from ladders, scaffolds and heights. If you or someone you know was injured or killed in a construction accident involving a ladder, scaffold or height call 1-800-LAWLINE (1-800-529-5463) for a free consultation on the phone, in our office, or even in your home or in the hospital. All cases are handled on a contingency fee, so there is never a fee if there is not a recovery.