Articles Posted in Labor Law Sections 240, 241

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When you are injured while engaged in certain types of work, the array of legal bases upon which you can pursue compensation in New York may vary. For some tasks, a workplace injury may open the door to seek an award of damages under one or both of two New York Labor Law statutes: Sections 240(1) and 241(6). These laws are very important for protecting workers who suffer construction accidents due to falls, falling objects or a failure to follow the state’s safety regulations. Even if you weren’t a “hard hat” moving 1,000-pound steel I-beams, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your work isn’t covered by these laws. And, even if you were the only witness to your accident, that also doesn’t mean you cannot achieve a successful result. To find out more about your options for seeking compensation, reach out to an experienced New York construction injury attorney.

Here’s an example from Manhattan that was decided by the Appellate Division last summer. B.C. was a man whose work duties included maintenance of the sprinklers of a building in Chelsea. One day, while working on the sprinklers, B.C. fell off a six-foot A-frame ladder, suffering substantial injuries in the fall. B.C. asserted that he was tightening a bolt when the ladder shifted, and that was what caused his fall.

B.C. sued the building’s owner under Section 240(1). This is a law that says that workers are entitled to adequate safeguards to protect them from falls and from being struck by falling objects. (It’s also sometimes called the “Scaffold Law.”) The building owner, as a key part of its defense, tried to persuade the court that the work that B.C. was doing wasn’t covered by the statute. The law says that it covers erection, demolition, repairs, alterations, painting and cleaning of a building or structure.

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In New York, in order to obtain compensation in a lawsuit filed under the Scaffold Law, your injury must have been gravity-related. Fortunately for injured workers, New York courts over the years have established a relatively broad definition of gravity-related. An object does not necessarily have to have fallen down or have swung upward in order for an accident to be gravity-related. The Court of Appeals has made it clear that, just because a worker and the object that injured him were on the same level, that does not automatically mean that the accident was not gravity-related. There are many different ways to succeed in a Scaffold Law case. To learn more about your options, talk to a knowledgeable New York construction accident attorney.

An example of a viable case that lacked a substantial elevation differential was the injury suffered by a worker named Jeff. Jeff was part of a crew hoisting a 1,000-pound steel beam. Specifically, Jeff was responsible for supervising the crew that was doing the actual hoisting, which was controlled by a mechanical switch. Jeff was reviewing blueprints when a crew member hit the hoist button prematurely, which sent the beam swinging toward Jeff. It hit him and resulted in Jeff suffering a torn biceps tendon.

The injured worker sued to recover compensation for the harm he suffered in the accident. His case asserted that he was entitled to compensation because the defendants violated Section 240(1) of the Labor Law. That statute, sometimes known as the “Scaffold Law,” aims to protect construction workers from harm resulting from elevation-related risks of harm.

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In your construction accident case, sometimes it may be the seemingly smallest or most insignificant things that can make big differences in the outcome of your case. That can be especially true when it comes to the analysis of your injury. Sometimes, the difference between being involved in an activity covered by the Scaffold Law and performing an act that is not covered can be very slight distinctions. To make sure that you have the information and evidence you need to obtain compensation for your construction accident injury, retain an experienced New York construction injury attorney to represent you.

One example of the importance of “sweating the small stuff” was the case of Miguel, a welding assistant. Miguel’s job was to create and install a waste disposal container and install it on a property in Brooklyn. He and his co-workers had already moved the container from a flatbed truck to a dolly and were preparing to roll it when the container fell off the dolly and landed on Miguel’s ankle, causing him significant injuries.

The worker launched a lawsuit to recover compensation for his damages under New York’s Labor Law. Specifically, Miguel argued that the accident demonstrated a violation of Section 240(1). The property owner sought to have the judge throw out the worker’s case, asserting that the activities that Miguel was completing were not covered under the Section 240(1) statute, The owner argued that Miguel was just engaged in the work of delivery and installation and that these tasks are not among those listed in the law. The owner’s argument compared Miguel’s work to that of someone doing “cosmetic maintenance or decorative modification.”

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There are multiple different ways to achieve an appropriate recovery for your construction injury. Depending on the facts of your case, you may need to proceed by utilizing a claim under one of the sections of the New York Labor Law, or your case may allow you to bring multiple claims under different sections of the law. Either way, your construction injury case may potentially entitle you to compensation. To learn more about your rights, talk to a knowledgeable New York construction injury attorney.

An example of an injury that allowed a worker to advance multiple claims was the workplace accident case of a man named Gerson. Gerson was employed by a contracting firm and working on a job at a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) housing project in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens when he was injured in April 2014. At that time, Gerson’s job consisted of standing on top of a sidewalk bridge and handing wooden planks to his co-workers. While transporting a plank, Gerson tried to re-adjust that plank on his shoulder, lost his balance, and fell off the sidewalk bridge. Gerson fell on the side with no panel walls, so he fell shoulder-first onto the ground below.

The fall injured the worker, so he sued for compensation. When you, as a construction worker, are working on a job, there are certain legal obligations that the law imposes on both the owner of the property where you’re working and the general contractor on the project. These duties relate to providing workers with a safe place to work and also providing them with the safety equipment and protection devices they need to protect them from certain types of harm. One of these sets of harms includes “gravity-related” risks, which can mean something falling on a worker or a worker falling from a height. This is stated in Section 240(1) of the Labor Law.

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The chances are, if you pursue a construction injury lawsuit, the opposition in your case will be well-represented by legal counsel. That’s why it is so important that you have an experienced New York construction injury attorney on your side. Your opposition may have many techniques for trying to defeat your claim, such as claiming that your injury was actually your fault. With the help of skilled counsel, you can present the necessary proof to overcome these types of assertions.

One example of this dynamic in action was the construction injury case of Deboraj, who was hurt while working in Howard Beach. The property owner hired Jose to do some work filling cracks in the walls of some garages with cement. Jose hired Deboraj to assist with the work. In doing his cement work, Deboraj stood on a straight aluminum ladder that was propped against the side of a garage. The ladder had no rubber feet on it. After climbing up and down the ladder several times without incident, Deboraj fell while ascending the ladder one additional time. The fall caused the worker to suffer serious injuries to his jaw and shoulder.

The injured worker sued the property owner for his injuries, asserting that the property owner was liable under Section 240(1) of the New York Labor Law. That law, sometimes called the Scaffold Law, protects workers injured as a result of “gravity-related” harm that results from the worker not receiving proper safety protection.

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Your construction accident case may involve many subtle elements and small details, both factual ones and legal ones. The high importance of very small details in some cases is but one reason among many why experienced New York construction injury attorneys can offer invaluable assistance to you. One recent case showed an example of this, when a worker succeeded in his appeal by persuading the Appellate Division that delays in providing the worker with a properly adjusted scaffold amounted to failing to make proper safety equipment “readily available” to the worker, as required by the law.

The centerpiece of the case was the repair and maintenance of a scaffold used by a construction worker named David. David was employed by a company subcontracted to complete work on a project in upstate New York. On the day of his accident, he was assigned a task that required the use of a scaffold. The scaffold provided to David, however, had several problems. It was missing planks, and it was too low to allow him to perform his tasks. Since another subcontractor owned the scaffold, and only employees of that company could adjust or modify the scaffold, David was at an impasse with his work.

Several hours later, David was informed that the scaffold was ready. When he returned to the scaffold, though, it was still too short. Allegedly, two supervisors told David to wait for another adjustment, but a third supervisor firmly told the worker to do whatever he needed to do to get the work done. David climbed the scaffold, but, while doing his task, he stepped on a midrail and began to fall.

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With a construction accident case, as with many types of injury cases, it is important to understand the laws and all of the ways that you can pursue a successful outcome. By retaining a knowledgeable New York construction accident attorney, identifying what’s available to you, and utilizing all of your options, you can give yourself a better chance of recovery. For one electrician, although he was not successful in advancing his “falling worker” argument, he nevertheless succeeded because he also had made a separate argument based upon a falling object that struck him.

The injured worker in this case was a journeyman electrician whose employer was doing the electrical renovation of the 32nd floor of a building. The electrician’s specific job was to finish the installation of a transformer that had been partially installed on the previous day. The transformer was inside a closet and was suspended from the ceiling. As the electrician completed his work, the transformer shifted and struck the man, knocking him from the ladder upon which he was standing. The electrician also claimed that he fell and that the fall caused him to hit his head on the ground, leaving him unconscious.

The electrician sued for his injuries, alleging that he was entitled to recover damages under Section 240(1) of the Labor Law. He also asked the judge for summary judgment in his favor on the issue of liability. The judge concluded that he was entitled to the summary judgment he sought. The construction worker protections that are contained in Section 240(1) of the Labor Law apply both to falling worker cases and to falling object cases. The courts have made it clear that a valid falling object case involves a situation in which the object’s fall “is related to ‘a significant risk inherent in … the relative elevation … at which materials or loads must be positioned or secured.” In other words, your falling object action under Section 240(1) must lay out a case, not only that the object fell and hit you, but also that it “fell, while being hoisted or secured, because of the absence or inadequacy of a safety device” required by the law.

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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.”

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In your New York construction accident lawsuit, details matter. In fact, sometimes it is seemingly minute details that can make all of the difference. In the case of one construction laborer hurt when he fell in an area containing dust and broken tiles, the specific details related to the work he was doing at the time of the accident were the key to his case going forward. Although the laborer’s job sometimes included cleaning, he was only responsible for laying a protective cover on a floor when he fell. That meant that dust and broken tiles were not the “means and methods” of his work at the time of the injury, and he could proceed with his case.

The injured worker was employed as a laborer for a general contractor firm. The worker was working on a “gut renovation project” when he was hurt. He had several different duties at the site, including placing protective coverings on surfaces and cleaning. The laborer was attempting to place protective covering over a floor when he slipped or tripped and fell, suffering injuries.

The laborer launched a construction injury lawsuit, alleging that he was hurt as a result of a violation of Section 241(6) of the Labor Law. In his lawsuit, the laborer pointed to the dust and the broken tiles at the job site to explain his fall.

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When you’re hurt on a construction job, you have several elements to your case that require attention if you are to succeed. Not only do you have to worry about presenting your strongest possible case, but also you have to focus on defeating any summary judgment motions the other side might make. In the case of a marble setter hurt hauling away equipment and supplies, he was able to do that because the evidence he had on his side indicated that he was working in a work area and in the performance of his duties, so that meant that he was allowed to pursue his Labor Law Section 241(6) case.

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