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New York Labor Law 240 & 241 Single Family Home Owner Exemption

December 27, 2009

As a New York personal injury attorney who handles construction accidents in Westchester, more and more single family homes are being used for investment. When this happens and a worker is injured while renovating the property the single family homeowner exemption does not apply.

Labor Law § 240 states in pertinent part that all contractors and owners, except owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the work, in the erection, repairing, altering, of a building or structure shall furnish or erect, or cause to be furnished or erected scaffolding, ladders, slings, and other devices which shall be so constructed, placed and operated as to give proper protection to a person so employed. Likewise, Labor Law § 241(6) applies to all contractors and owners and their agents, except owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the work.

A defendant is only entitled to the one or two family home owner exemption where it is clear that the property is used solely as a one-or two-family dwelling. Krukowski v. Steffensen, 194 A.D.2d 179 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dep’t 1993). However, an owner of a one or two family dwelling, who does not occupy the property themself but holds it solely for commercial gain, is not entitled to the one or two family dwelling exemption and is strictly liable under Labor Law §§ 240 and 241. Van Amerogen v. Donnini, 78 N.Y.2d 880 (1991).

When considering the issue of commercial use, the relevant focus is upon the objective use to which the dwelling is put, not upon how the use is characterized from the owner’s perspective. Pigott v. Church of the Holy Infancy, 179 A.D.2d 161 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dep’t 1992). The law is clear that a court must look to the use to which a defendant has put the property. Morelock v. Danbrod Realty Corp., 203 A.D.2d 733 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dep’t 1994). Zahoransky v. Lissow, 2006 NY Slip Op 52190U (Niagra Sup. 2006).

Westchester construction accident lawyers must throughly investigate the use to which any single family home is being put when analyzing a potential claim of an injured worker.

The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph