Labor Law Section 240 (1) is known as the “Scaffold Law.” This provides special rights of recovery to injured construction workers who are injured due to elevation injuries – i.e., falling from scaffolding. The law also covers cases by falls, as well as workers being hit by objects coming from heights. The law creates liability and a right of recovery where none would exist otherwise for that worker – for example, if the worker would be stuck with only workers’ compensation insurance and be unable to file a personal injury claim for his or her losses. The law imposes absolute liability against the owner, general contractors and/or their agents.
Therefore, under Labor Law 240(1), liability is assumed. The issue, however, is that the amount of damages must still be resolved in trial or during settlement negotiations. The issue is also heavily contested, and is commonly litigated in appellate courts due to the issues regarding the law and determining proper settlement values. It is important to note, however, that the law only is used as a means of recovery in court, and it does not assure a particular value to your claim. Instead, that value is up to the court. In order to receive protections under Labor Law 240, you must meet various requirements – and you will need the assistance of an attorney who has experience dealing with these types of claims. The courts will favor a strict interpretation of the law, since it creates a right of recovery that is outside the realm of regular workers’ compensation benefits.
One and Two-Family Homeowner Exemptions
The law is not applicable to one and two-family homes where the owner does not direct the work. For example, if you are a construction worker modifying a single family home, and fall from scaffolding while painting, then you cannot sue the homeowner for your injuries, because that owner is not directing the work that you are doing. Instead, you are doing work for a construction company. In this instance, you would have to file your suit against the general contractor, not the owner.
If the homeowner is directing the work, then the exemption rule does not apply and you can hold the owner responsible for the injuries. For example, if you were hired directly by the owner and not through a general contractor and the owner directs your work, chooses your hours, etc., and the homeowner also supervises all subcontractors associated with the project, then he or she is liable for your injuries.
Labor Law Section 240(1) is applicable to three-family homes, as well as commercial buildings, condominiums, and apartment complexes.
You Must Be Working on a Structure
You must be working on a structure in order to qualify for compensation. This can include water towers, garages, tunnels, bridges, buildings, etc. A tree, however, is not a structure.
You Must Meet Work Definitions to Qualify
There are specific work definitions that must be met in order to qualify for compensation under the law. This work includes:
- Scaffolding, hoists, ladders, slings, hangers, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes, and other hoisting-type devices
There are types of work that are not covered. If the maintenance is related to the building or is decorative, it is not covered. For example, if you are inspecting the construction work in progress and fall, you are not covered under the statute. If you are changing pictures or a light bulb, you are also not covered under the statute.
The Accident Must Include Gravity
In order to qualify under the statute, you must have a fall that includes the force of gravity – because this law solely applies to falls.
Did You Fall on the Job? Contact a Construction Site Attorney
If you fell on the job, you will want to contact a construction site attorney with experience in Labor Law Section 240(1). The team at Schwartzapfel® Lawyers P.C. can assist you with your claim. Our construction site injury attorneys have extensive knowledge of the latest labor laws and can ensure that you get the compensation deserved for your injuries. Schedule a free consultation today at 877-737-4806 or contact us online with your legal questions.