The New York State Labor Law provides extra protection to construction workers involved in work site related accidents. In New York, as in other states, any worker involved in an on the job accident is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, which provides basic coverage for medical and a portion of lost earnings in the event of injuries sustained on the job regardless of fault. However, Section 11 of the New York State Workers’ Compensation law prevents the injured construction worker from maintaining a direct action against their employer.
In New York, pursuant to sections 200, 240 and 241(6) of the New York State Labor Law, a construction worker involved in a work related accident, in addition to a workers’ compensation claim, may also have a third‑party law suit against the general contractor and/or owner of the construction site. A direct cause of action may also exist against another contractor to the extent that the other contractor was at fault for the happening of the accident.
Section 200 of the New York State Labor law essentially codifies a common law obligation of reasonable care in the maintenance of the work site.
Section 240 of the New York State Labor law essentially imposes strict liability upon the general contractor and/or owner of the construction site for any worker who has sustained an injury from falling from a height from a ladder or scaffold to the extent proper protection has not been provided, or injured from hoisted material falling from a height. A Section 240 based case may allow the worker to obtain a finding of legal liability upon the owner and general contractor as a matter of law (before a case even goes to trial). In a Section 240 case there is no comparative fault upon the construction worker. Even if the injured worker was negligent, unless the negligence was the sole proximate cause of the accident, the comparative fault of the injured worker cannot be used to offset legal liability of the owner or general contractor.
Section 241(6) of the New York State Labor law imposes a nondeligible duty upon the general contractor and/or owner to comply with all provisions of the New York State Industrial Code with language that sets forth specific requirements.
In New York a construction worker involved in a work related accident in addition to a workers’ compensation claim, may also have a third party lawsuit pursuant to common law principles of negligence against other contractors, product liability cases arising from defective products, or liability imposed upon the general contractor and/or the owner of the site (regardless of their active wrongdoing) imposed by the New York State Labor Law.
In sum, any construction worker involved in a work related accident in addition to a potential workers’ compensation claim, should also consult with an attorney fully familiar with the New York State Labor Law and its relation to work related accidents. New York State has more progressive legislation in place to protect construction workers than many other States.
Construction workers are exposed significant risks of work related injuries, and deserve every protection that the law provides. Our firm has significant experience in handling construction related matters, and it is our honor and privilege to fight to protect the workers that build our great City and State of New York.
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