New York Scaffold Law – Strict Liability of Owners and Contractors for Non-Compliance

New York long ago adopted a scaffolding law design to protect construction workers and others from certain unsafe work conditions, including those associated with scaffolding and construction.  This law may be seen at New York Labor Law Section 240; New York Code – Section 240: Scaffolding and other devices for use of employees.

In general, Section 240 (also known as “Labor Law Section 240”) requires worker protection from falls and scaffolding placement.Other safety measures at all construction projects are also covered by the law. Some of  these requirements include fall protection from elevated heights,  the height of safety rail placement, the placement of openings, and required weight bearing of scaffolding and other safety protections for workers.  In addition to Labor Law Section 240, Labor Law Section 241 further protects construction workers from danger and unsafe work sites.

How These Laws Are Used in a Construction Injury Case

The New York Scaffold Laws are important in a civil lawsuit because they impose strict liability on owners and contractors that fail to adhere to the law.

In most construction accidents, the person injured (usually the construction worker) must show that the defendant (often the owner or general contractor) failed to take some action, or otherwise acted negligently, in order to recover.  The defendants in these cases would often “point the finger” at the injured worker, and accuse the worker of not acting in a safe manner.  As a result, the defendants would often seek to avoid liability by showing that the primary cause of the accident was not something that they did, but rather worker carelessness or wrongful action.

These statutes remove virtually all defenses that owners and contractors would otherwise have.  Instead, liability is based on answering a few basic questions, including:

  • Was the construction project covered under these statutes?
  • Did the owner or contractor fail to provide the scaffolding or other safety measures required by the statutes?
  • Did an injury occur of the type that was designed to have been prevented?

If these questions are “yes”, then most likely the owner (and general contractor, if there is one) will be liable for the accident and injuries that occur, even if the workers were not acting in a safe manner.  The result of these statutes is that it is significantly easier for injured workers and their families to recover for the injuries, damages, and (potentially) wrongful death that resulted.

If You’ve Been Injured in a Construction Accident, Please Call Our Firm

We can meet with you at your convenience – there is no cost associated with this meeting, and as we generally accept injury cases on a contingency fee basis, there is no fee for us unless we recover a settlement or award for you.

103 W. Seneca Street, Suite 301
Ithaca, NY 14850
Telephone: (607) 272-5590
Fax: (607) 272-5594

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