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Construction Site Accidents—Negligence, New York Labor Law 240 (Scaffold and other elevation-related construction accidents) and Labor Law 241 (accidents at dangerous construction sites that don’t involve elevation)

New York has special provisions to address the unique dangers faced by construction workers. Workers at construction sites are routinely subject to dangerous conditions and potentially serious injury. When a worker is injured, he/she is covered by workers’ compensation. But that is often not sufficient to cover the severe injuries that occur at construction sites. Furthermore, construction sites are usually occupied by numerous employers (contractors, subcontractors) at a time. Often, one of these third parties will be the cause of an injury to a non-employee who is working for someone else on the site.

Negligence:

Under ordinary negligence law, an injured worker may sue a third-party contractor for dangerous conditions that (1) caused the worker’s injury; and (2) that the third-party had control of and knew or should have known was dangerous. A worker’s comparative negligence is at issue in such claims, as in other negligence claims. If you recover by making a third-party claim, you will have to reimburse workers’ compensation that you receive.

Labor Law 240:

Under New York’s Labor Law 240, construction workers who perform work necessary or incidental to the erection or repair of a building and who do so at high elevations (on a scaffold or on ladders on tall structures) are entitled to certain safety devices and provisions. If they do not receive such devices and provisions and they are injured in scaffold or other elevation support-related accidents, in addition to workers’ compensation through their employer, they may recover against a third-party that was responsible for supervising the project and providing safety devices (such as general contractor or subcontractor responsible for safety on part or all of the project) if they can prove the third-party knew or should have known there were safety violations. However, if the third-party can prove the worker was solely responsible for the accident, then the defendant is not liable. If you recover by making a third-party claim, you will have to reimburse a portion of the workers’ compensation benefits you received.

Minor repair work and routine maintenance is not considered erection or repair of a building under Labor Law 240.

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Labor Law 241:

This section provides for strict liability where a contractor or other party violates certain safety codes at a worksite, and that violation results in injury. That means the worker does not have to prove the defendant was at fault (negligent) in causing the injury—the violation establishes fault. This section is not limited to injuries that result from elevation-related accidents. If you recover by making a third-party claim, you will have to reimburse a portion of the workers’ compensation benefits you received.

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I have been injured in a construction accident while I was working on a construction site

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