New York has a unique law regarding workers who have been injured while on the job at construction sites. Under the Scaffold Law, property owners and general contractors are liable for injuries that occur on worksites involving scaffolding regardless of fault or negligence.
In other words, it doesn't matter how the worker became injured. The fact that the worker was injured while on the job means he or she can recover under New York law. The Scaffold Law was originally enacted because of an increasingly high death toll which at one time plagued New York construction sites, especially at elevated heights.
The Scaffold Law holds those responsible for the budget to high safety standards, thereby increasing overall safety for workers. But the law is continually the object of "reform" efforts. This year is no exception.
Another year, another attempt at amendments
In Albany, lawmakers are continually lobbied to amend, or even eliminate, New York's Scaffold law. It is unclear if this year's efforts will be successful but it is estimated that as many as 70 organizations are currently arguing for a change to the law.
Some courts have restricted Scaffold Law in recent cases
Just last year, the New York Supreme Court's Appellate Division, Second Department, held that a worker who fell from a ladder was not able to recover under the Scaffold Law because he improperly positioned the ladder. Other courts interpret the law differently. The differing treatment between courts has led to some speculation that the New York Court of Appeals will take up the issue at some point. As yet, however, the state's highest court has no such case upcoming.
An attorney can help
Even a straightforward law like New York's Scaffold Law can become complex when there is continuous litigation surrounding it. If you were injured at a construction site, the Scaffold Law may apply to your situation. However, this blog is not legal advice and individual circumstances vary. If you have questions about a potential lawsuit, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney familiar with accidents at NYC construction sites.