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Advancing a New York Construction Injury Case Even if the Worker Potentially Made Some Mistakes

If you are in the position of bringing a New York construction accident case, you likely will face vigorous opposition from the defendant(s) in your case. This is one reason (but not the only reason) why experienced and diligent construction accident counsel is so important to success. Sometimes, the defense’s approach focuses upon what the injured worker did or didn’t do. The key, then, is to demonstrate to the court either that the defense’s case is factually inaccurate or, if it is not, to establish that the law allows for recovery regardless of the injured worker’s actions.

One recent example of this was a case that arose from a fatal accident at a Columbia University building. A construction worker was working on a scaffold several stories off the ground. At some point during his work, the employee fell off the scaffold and through a third-story window. That window opened to an elevator shaft. The worker fell down the shaft and to his death.

The deceased worker’s family brought a Labor Law action against both the construction manager and the university, which was the building’s owner. The plaintiff specifically asserted a claim that the manager and the owner were liable under Section 240(1). That section requires that workers be provided with “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.”

Proper protection when it comes to scaffolds can entail many things. A proper scaffold should have guardrails, properly secured by connectors, covering all open sides of the platform. It should also have proper footings to prevent movement and be made of sturdy enough material to prevent a collapse under the weight of workers and their materials.

In this case, the plaintiff had proof that the scaffold from which the worker fell had no guardrail on the side that faced the window opening. The defense had no evidence that refuted the plaintiff’s claim about the guardrail. With this uncontroverted evidence on her side, the plaintiff had clear proof that the scaffold provided to the dead worker did not provide proper protection.

In circumstances like this one, the defense may attempt to escape liability by advancing a theory of the accident that places the injured or deceased worker in the position of being at fault for his own harm. Here, the defendants defended themselves by producing evidence that the deceased worker failed to tie his lanyard to the scaffold. However, in order for this defense strategy to work, the court has to conclude that the worker’s error was the “sole proximate cause of his fall.”

With the plaintiff having already presented her proof regarding the absence of the guardrail, and that lack of a guardrail representing a clear violation of Section 240(1), the worker’s failure to tie his lanyard could not possibly amount to the single cause of his fall and his fatal injuries.

When you are injured in a construction accident in New York, your case may present you with many options and avenues for seeking recovery for the damages you’ve suffered. Your injury attorney can help you navigate the system and select a strategic path forward. The knowledgeable Queens scaffolding accident attorneys at Newman, Anzalone & Newman have been helping injured people for many years pursue recovery for the harm they have suffered. To schedule a free consultation with one of our qualified attorneys, contact us toll-free at 718-896-2700 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Carpenter Injured Working on New York School Project Secures Favorable Ruling from Appellate Division, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, June 19, 2017

New York Appellate Division Upholds Ruling for Construction Worker in Madison Square Garden Accident Case, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, May 19, 2017

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