sidewalk scaffolding

Construction work and scaffolding work is some of the most dangerous work in New York. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) reports that construction-related deaths and injuries top the list of workplace accidents each year. 

So many of these injuries and fatalities are caused by falls, or “gravity-related incidents,” that New York State enacted the “Scaffold Law” in the late 1800s. Now codified as NYS Labor Law Section 240, this law makes property owners and general contractors fully liable for any gravity-related accident and resulting injuries. The purpose of the law was to protect workers against hazards that they had no way of correcting themselves.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a scaffolding accident in New York, contact our scaffolding accident lawyers. If you are looking for an attorney who will fight for your rights in court and to get you the compensation you deserve, speak with us.

Roth & Roth has been successfully representing individuals and families throughout the State of New York for over 25 years. If you or someone you know was injured or killed in New York due to someone else's wrongdoing, contact us to discuss your options. Initial consultations are always free and we never get paid unless and until you do.

The Scaffold Law was intended to protect construction workers who fell from a height, or who were injured by an object falling from above due to improper scaffolding, improper hoisting, or the improper securing of objects. The language of the statute specifies that the worker must have been engaged in construction work, not maintenance, manufacturing, or salvage

The key element in the Scaffold Law is gravity. An accident caused by the change of elevation of a person or object is covered. It also applies to instances where proper safety equipment is either not provided to workers or inaccessible to them. 

The Scaffold Law applies only to injured workers who are performing specific types of work.  

The Scaffold Law protects workers and allows them to sue the owner of the premises or other responsible contractors. A construction worker who is injured on a job site falling from a scaffold may still file a worker’s compensation claim even while pursuing a claim for injuries under section 240 of the NYS Labor Law.

Because the law was carefully designed to give workers extra protection in case of injuries related to people and objects falling, it is important to have an experienced scaffold lawyer to prove an injury was due to a “gravity-related” cause. If you believe your injury was due to failure of adequate safety devices, negligence, or carelessness on the part of the contractor or owner at the construction site, you should seek the advice of an NYC scaffold accident lawyer right away. 

You can still file a worker’s compensation claim without endangering your scaffolding accident claim. The only requirement for your worker’s compensation claim is that you were injured on the job. 

There are three major types of scaffolding. Supported scaffolding consists of platforms supported from below by legs or frames. Suspended scaffolding is a platform hanging from ropes or other overhead support structures. Aerial lifts are a type of scaffolding that combine both forms of scaffolding, such as scissor lifts or cherry-pickers. These lifts are often mobile.

The four primary hazards associated with scaffolding are:

  • Falls
  • The collapse of the scaffolding
  • Materials falling from the scaffold
  • Death

OSHA requires scaffolds to be made of certain materials, depending on what they will be used for, and that there be guardrails and handrails when the scaffold is above a certain height. The majority of accidents that occur on scaffolds happen when these requirements are not followed, and people or objects slip off or over an edge.

Fall protection devices, such as safety harnesses, must be provided, and falling object prevention devices like nets, catch platforms, and hard hats, must be used. If you have been involved in an accident where items have fallen from a scaffold or from overhead at a construction site, a scaffold accident lawyer from a New York firm can tell you whether it falls within the Scaffold Law parameters.

The injuries that can be sustained when these safety guidelines are not followed range from minor scrapes and bruises to traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and fatalities. Fall injuries can include:

  • Broken bones
  • Concussion and traumatic head injury
  • Neck and back injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Paralysis and nerve damage
  • Internal injuries
  • Electrocution

To prove you have a Scaffold Law claim, you will need to show that the injury was directly related to specific activities related to building construction, such as:

  • Erection of a building or other structure
  • Erection of scaffolding, hoists, blocks, pulleys, or related equipment
  • Demolition of a building
  • Repairing, altering, painting, or cleaning a building (but not decorating)
  • Pointing of a building

Because a worker has the right to receive compensation with both worker’s compensation and the Scaffold Law, the owner’s or contractor’s attorneys will scrutinize everything in your claim. You should have your claim reviewed by a knowledgeable scaffolding lawyer before sending it to the insurance companies.

Do I Have A Claim If I Was Walking By The Site?

If you are a construction worker, yes, but otherwise, unfortunately, no. The law specifically excludes anyone who is not a construction worker or working at the worksite. Pedestrians walking past the site, drivers, and anyone who happens to be near the location if something falls are not covered by the Scaffold Law. But, they may have a claim under other theories of negligence. If you’re injured because of falling objects, you may have other causes of action against the owner of the property, the construction company, the general contractor, the subcontractors, and others. You should contact us to discuss your case and how to proceed to seek compensation for the injuries and damages you have suffered.

Am I Liable for a Fall From a Scaffold at My Home?

Non-commercial residential properties where the owner does not control the construction are excluded from liability under the statute. This law is designed to protect workers and impose liability on commercial construction sites, not penalize small property owners who use contractors to build or renovate their homes. 

What Damages Can I Recover In A Scaffold Accident Claim That I Can’t Recover In A Worker’s Compensation Claim?

Worker’s compensation is designed to cover all a worker’s medical expenses and provide partial income until the worker can return to work. In return, the worker waives the right to sue their employer for any additional compensation. The Scaffold Law provides a way for injured workers to obtain significant non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, as well as economic damages not fully covered by Workers' Comp insurance.

How Long Do I Have to Make A Scaffold Law Claim?

The Scaffold Law has a three-year statute of limitations to file a claim. If a municipality is involved the statute of limitations is reduced to one year and 90 days from the date of the accident, in addition to a notice of claim requirement that must be filed within 90 days of the happening of the accident. However, the longer you wait to make your claim, the more difficult it will be to prove your case.

If you’ve had a scaffolding or other construction accident in the State of New York, New York City or any of its five boroughs, or another county, you need the attorneys at Roth & Roth. Roth & Roth has been a New York legal team for more than two and a half decades. 

Founding partner David A. Roth and partner Audra Roth started Roth & Roth LLP in 1998 to help the average New Yorker get the benefits of a boutique law firm and the expertise of an established practice. They have taken on such legal giants as the City of New York, large construction firms, the MTA, and the New York City Transit Authority and gotten their clients the settlements they deserved. David and Audra want to fight for all their clients and win.

Our attorneys know the details of construction law and worker’s compensation, and how to make the Scaffold Law work for you to get you the compensation you need to recover from your injuries. If you believe your injury was a gravity-related fall due to improperly installed, improperly used, or maintained scaffolding, failure to provide proper safety equipment and instructions for its use, or an unsafe construction site, don’t wait to contact us.

Call us at (212) 425-1020 or use our online contact form to get in touch. 

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