Falling Objects on New York Construction Sites
One of the most frequent causes of injuries on construction sites is workers being struck by a falling object, such as debris or lumber or materials that are being hoisted. Our NYC construction accident lawyers know that constrcuction workers being hit by a falling object is one of the quintessential risks that Labor Law 240 was enacted to prevent . Labor Law 240(1) was enacted to "prevent those accidents in which a hoist, stay or other device proved inadeaquate to shield a worker from harm directly flowing from the application of gravity to an object and is implicated where a worker is exposed to the risk of being hit by an object falling. New York's Labor Law 240(1) applies where the work posed an elevation-related hazard that called for the provision of a protective device and none was provided. New York's law requires that devices are to be furnished in a manner sufficient to give "proper protection" to the workers. These include hoists, stays, braces, nets and any other device that will protect a construction worker from a falling object. Our White Plains and Manhattan construction accident lawyers know that an injured worker is not required to prove which particular safety devices would have prevented the injury, so long as the risk requiring a safety device is a foreseeable risk inherent in the work and none were provided or the devices that were provided failed to prevent the accident from occurring and the construction worker from being injured.
One of the most frequent questions that our New York construction accident lawyers are asked is if I got hurt because a co-worker dropped something, can I sue? Our NYC construction accident lawyers know that a violation of New York's Labor Law 240 equals strict liability. In other words if a worker got hurt because of a falling object, the general contractor and building owner are one hundred percent at fault for failing to provide adequate safety devices. In fact, our New York construction accident lawyers have repeatedly won summary judgment in Labor Law 240 cases, and proved the law was violated, based upon a motions, without a trial. Under New York Law, an injured worker is entitled to summary judgment on a Labor Law 240 claim where a co-workers drops an object and no other device besides the worker was provided to secure it. Merely having another worker as a helper is not enough, because the availability of a particular safety device will not shield a general contractor from absolute liability if the device alone is not sufficient to provide safety without the use of additional precautionary devices or measures. In other words, that another worker was helping Plaintiff, does not fulfill the building owner’s non-delegable duties, because the law is violated when an object fell, because of the absence or inadequacy of a safety device of the kind enumerated in Labor Law 240. Where the method which was provided to protect the Plaintiff from a falling object, proved ineffective in preventing the falling object from hitting him, and the defendant failed to provide any other device, the defendant is absolutely liable. In the seminal case of Cammon, the New York Court of Appeals, the injured worker was struck by a timber, and the Court held that even though a sling was provided, the defendant failed to satisfy its obligations, because the sling failed to prevent the timber from falling and hitting the worker.So long as the accident was at least in part caused by the absence of a proper safety device, the injrued worker is entitled to summary judgment. In another case, Skow, the Appellate Division held that Labor Law 240 applied where a pump was dropped by a co-worker while being carried down a ladder. In another case, (Hernandez), the Court recognized that Labor law 240 applied where a coworker dropped a 50 pound bag of concrete. In Velez-Tejada, the Court recognized that Labor Law 240 applied where the worker was struck by a 40 opund frame that fell from a forklift.
Another common question our NYC construction accident lawyers are asked is can I still sue if I got workers compensation benefits? The answer is usually yes. Even if you received workers compensation benefits, that means under New York law, you cannot sue the employer, however, you can sue the site owner and the general contractor, (if you were employed by a subcontractor), for failing to provide adequate safety devices, even if your co-worker was at fault.
For more information on falling object cases and hoisting injuries: