Suing for Damages in a Construction Site Accident
Construction sites in the United States are known for their high rate of accidents and injuries. In New York, all workers are covered by workers' compensation insurance, which provides medical benefits and lost wages for work-related accidents. It is important to note that if you are injured at work, you cannot sue your employer. Instead, you can file a workers' compensation claim to receive medical benefits and partial wage reimbursement while you are unable to work. However, it is important to understand that workers' compensation claims only partially compensate for the accident and do not provide compensation for pain and suffering.
To address these limitations and the hazardous nature of construction sites, New York has implemented special protections for injured construction workers under the Labor Law sections 240(1), 241(6), and 200. These statutes allow injured construction workers to not only file a workers' compensation claim with their employer but also to bring a lawsuit against the construction site owner, general contractor, and certain subcontractors. This legal action can help an injured construction worker recover damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, and out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Labor Law sections 240(1), 241(6), and 200 each have distinct legal requirements that must be met in order to pursue a claim. The application of these laws hinges upon the specific details and circumstances surrounding the accident, as well as the roles played by individuals involved in the construction project. Our skilled team of New York City construction accident lawyers at MJP Injury Law possess the expertise to thoroughly investigate the incident, identify the applicable Labor Law statute, and ascertain the necessary parties to include in the lawsuit.
Labor Law Section 240(1)
Labor Law § 240(1) imposes absolute liability upon owners, contractors and their agents who fail to provide or erect safety devices necessary to give proper protection to workers exposed to elevation-related hazards. Rodriguez v. Waterfront Plaza, LLC, 207 A.D.3d 489 (2d Dept. 2022). Labor Law § 240(1)’s mandate applies equally to owners, contractors and their agents regardless of whether they supervise or control the work. Barreto v. Metropolitan Transp. Auth., 25 N.Y.3d 426 (2015). The statute is specifically designed to protect workers from gravity-related hazards such as falling from a ladder or scaffold. Valensisi v. Greens at Half Hollow, LLC, 33 A.D.3d 693 (2d Dept. 2006).
To achieve Labor Law § 240(1)'s legislative purpose, the statute must be liberally construed in favor of the worker, and the owner and general contractor must bear the ultimate responsibility for safety practices, instead of workers, who are scarcely in a position to protect themselves from accidents. Rivas v. Seward Park Hous. Corp., 2023 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 4425 (1st Dept. 2023); Mogrovejo v. HG Hous. Dev. Fund Co., Inc., 207 A.D.3d 457 (2d Dept. 2022). To that end, the statute does not require a worker to demand a certain safety device or otherwise challenge his or her supervisor’s instructions. DeRose v. Bloomingdale's Inc., 120 A.D.3d 41 (1st Dept. 2014). Accordingly, the failure of a worker to challenge the instructions given to him or failure to demand the use of an adequate safety device does not absolve the site owner or general contractor of liability under Labor Law § 240(1). Munzon v. Victor at Fifth, LLC, 161 A.D.3d 1183 (2d Dept. 2018).
To win a case under Labor Law § 240(1), the injured construction worker must prove that the site owner and general contractor violated the statute and that the violation was a proximate cause of the accident. Mora v. 1-10 Bush Term. Owner, L.P., 214 A.D.3d 785 (2d Dept. 2023).
Labor Law Section 241(6)
Labor Law § 241(6) imposes a non delegable duty on construction site owners and general contractors to comply with the specific safety rules and regulations set forth in New York’s Industrial Code. The protections under Labor Law § 241(6) apply to construction, demolition, and excavation work. Ortega, 178 A.D.3d at 940. To prove your claim under Labor Law 6 241(6), the injured worker must prove the site owner and general contractor are in violation of an applicable Industrial Code rule, which was a proximate cause of the accident. Sanchez v. BBL Constr. Servs., LLC, 202 A.D.3d 847 (2d Dept. 2022).
Where the construction site owner and or general contractor violates an Industrial Code section, and the violation is a proximate cause of the accident, the injured worker is entitled to receive money compensation from the general contractor and construction site owner under Labor Law section 241(6). Ortega, 178 A.D.3d at 940.
Labor Law Section 200
Labor Law § 200 codifies an owner’s or general contractor’s common-law duty of care to provide construction site workers with a safe place to work. Cruz v. Toscano, 269 A.D.2d 122 (1st Dept. 2000). Statutory agents of the owner and general contractor are also liable under Labor Law § 200. Burgos, 145 A.D.3d at 506.
Claims under § 200 fall into two categories: (1) those where the plaintiff is injured by a dangerous premises condition (“Premises Standard”) and (2) those where plaintiff is injured because of the manner, means, or methods by which the work is performed (“Means and Methods Standard”). Seem v. Premier Camp Co., LLC, 200 A.D.3d 921 (2d Dept. 2021). Where a defect is not inherent but is created by the manner in which the work is performed, the claim under Labor Law § 200 is analyzed under the Means and Methods Standard. Villanueva v. 114 Fifth Ave. Assoc. LLC, 162 A.D.3d 404 (1st Dept. 2018). Where the accident is caused by improper maintenance of the construction site such as a trip and fall accident caused by loose materials left on the floor, the Premises Standard applies. Prevost v. One City Block LLC, 155 A.D.3d 531 (1st Dept. 2017) (Holding Premises Standard applies in action where plaintiff tripped and fell at work site on loose pipe left on floor).
Under the Means and Methods Standard, any owner, general contractor, or subcontractor that provided the injured worker with instructions and or supervision at the work site will be at fault and responsible for compensating the injured worker under Labor Law § 200.
According to the Premises Standard, the plaintiff must show the general contractor or owner either created the dangerous condition or had actual or constructive notice of it sufficient for corrective action to be taken. Jackson v. Hunter Roberts Constr., L.L.C., 205 A.D.3d 542 (1st Dept. 2022). Actual notice means the general contractor or the site owner actually observed and knew the dangerous condition existed but failed to clean it up or warn of its existence before the accident. Constructive notice means that the general contractor should have known about the dangerous condition because it existed for such a long period of time that the general contractor or site owner should have noticed the condition and fixed it.
Receive the Guidance You Need
If you or someone you care about has been hurt at a construction site, it is crucial to conduct a thorough investigation as soon as possible. To determine the available legal remedies and identify the responsible parties, it is advisable to consult an experienced construction accident attorney in New York City. Due to the intricate nature of construction sites and the involvement of numerous contractors and subcontractors, prompt investigation is vital. At MJP Injury Law, we are ready to advocate on your behalf and ensure you receive rightful compensation. We proudly represent clients in various locations within New York, such as Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, as well as Staten Island, Westchester County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Don't hesitate to contact us today.