Frequently Asked Questions About New York Scaffold Law

scaffold accidentThe NY Scaffold Law, also known as Labor Law 240/241 provides protection for construction workers and pedestrians against falling debris, falls from heights and other gravity related injuries at unsafe construction sites. This law is unique to New York and people often have questions about it.

Why are owners and contractors held liable for accidents?

Legislators and courts have decided that property owners and contractors are in the best position to text control a construction site and its safety. New York’s Court of Appeals has stated that, “The objective was—and still is—to force owners and contractors to provide a safe workplace…”

Workers rely on contractors and owners to provide safety equipment and to oversee the work. In that sense, they are dependent on them to make the workplace safe. A construction accident scene is different from a car accident scene, where both drivers have complete control of their cars. Contributory negligence makes sense in that situation. However, in the workplace, control is on the side of the owner and contractor, and the construction worker is dependent upon the contractor to provide safety devices and instruction.

Is the owner or contractor always liable for an accident under the Scaffold Law?

Not always. The owner or contractor would have to violate safety standards to be liable for damages resulting from an accident. The worker must prove that the other party’s negligence caused the accident. Also, if the party provided the worker with adequate protection and the worker’s negligence caused the accident, there would not be a viable claim against the party. An example would be if the worker were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then the claim would fail. In addition, if the contractors or owners provided the worker with proper safety equipment and instruction, but the worker ignored instructions or did not use the equipment, the court would not rule in favor of the worker.

Can an undocumented worker receive compensation under the Scaffold Law?

Yes, in 2006, the highest court in New York ruled that injured undocumented workers could recover lost wages under the Scaffold Law. However, there is one condition. They will not be to be able to do so if they have given false work papers to their employer.

(Reference: Center for Justice Democracy)

Contact an experienced accident attorney if you have questions about the Scaffold Law.