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What You Should Know About the Scaffold Law (Labor Law 240)

ironworker sitting on a beam

Many construction workers and maintenance workers have to get on scaffolds or ladders to carry out their job duties. In New York State, if a construction worker falls from a scaffold, ladder, or other height, or has something fall on them, they may be entitled to compensation from a lawsuit in addition to their workers’ compensation claim.

The Scaffold Law was written 130 years ago, before workers’ compensation even existed, to protect the workers who built New York’s first skyscrapers and suffered horrific falls in the process. It has been protecting workers to this day.

What Does the Law Say?

First, the Scaffold Law requires contractors and property owners to provide safety equipment for workers who are working at heights. That means contractors and property owners need to provide scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders and other equipment that is necessary to keep workers safe. Second, it holds owners and contractors responsible for any injuries that occur when workers are exposed to elevation-related risks. In other words, contractors and property owners can be held responsible if a worker falls off a scaffold or ladder, even if they did not know of the danger.

A Scaffold Law case is not brought against the employer you work for directly. You have a workers’ compensation claim against your direct employer. However, when you get hurt on a construction site, the owner of the property where you were hurt, and possibly a general contractor that you did not directly work for, are also responsible for your injuries.

While a workers’ compensation claim entitles you only to partial wage replacement and medical care for your injuries, a Scaffold Law case from the same accident will entitle you to all of the damages any personal injury lawsuit would entitle you to, which is often in the millions.

But a Scaffold Law case is different from most personal injury lawsuits in one important way: you do not have to prove that the contractor or property owner was negligent. It is thus much easier to win one of these cases or get a large settlement than most other kinds of lawsuits.

What Should You Do if You Fell From a Height While Doing Construction Work?

If you have been injured on a construction site after falling from a height or having something fall on you, you may have a Scaffold Law case against the contractor or property owner in addition to your workers’ compensation claim against your direct employer.

If you have been injured in a construction accident, call us today at (718) 550-0610 or fill out our form online.

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