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Arye, Lustig & Sassower, P.C.

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Another year, another attack on New York's Scaffold Law

It seems like every year there is another group that tries to convince lawmakers to change, or even eliminate, New York's Scaffold Law - and this year is no different. Sadly, these proposed changes are rarely to the benefit of construction workers, the very people this law is supposed to protect.

Essentially, this important safety law - otherwise known as New York Labor Law §240 - currently works like this: When a construction worker suffers an injury while working at an elevated height, such as atop scaffolding, liability for the injury typically rests with the property owner or general contractor. In some cases, this law provides the best avenue of legal recourse for construction workers injured in severe falls. Unfortunately, if efforts to change this law are successful, it will surely be construction workers who pay the price.

Recent challenges to the law

According to a report in Westchester Magazine, the most recent group to propose changes to New York's Scaffold Law is the Business Council of Westchester. While this group does not wish to completely eliminate the law, they are seeking to add a comparative negligence element to it - meaning courts would have to take into account whether a construction worker's own negligence contributed to the injury.

Proponents of the law, however, are skeptical about this proposed change. In fact, many believe that weakening the law would, in effect, shift responsibility from general contractors and property owners - who control the site - to the workers themselves - who do not control the site.

Regardless of whether the Scaffold Law actually changes, one thing will remain the same: Construction workers will continue to suffer severe fall-related injuries. If you or a family member has been injured in a construction fall, you need to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

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  • $2.1 million settlement

    for 33-year old electrician who fell from ladder while attempting to fit heavy cable into crown box when cable sprung back and struck him, causing him to suffer left shoulder injury with impingement.

  • $1.6 million settlement

    for 38-year old electrician who slipped and fell on debris on stairway with resulting cervical herniated disc and aggravation of pre-existing arthritic changes.

  • $2.55 million settlement

    for 42-year old electrician who fell into an uncovered, unprotected hole and suffered a severe low back injury with herniated disc(s) that required surgery at L4-5 and L5-S1 levels.

  • $1.75 million settlement

    for 26-year old construction worker who fell through opening in roof and fractured his wrist, requiring surgery with open reduction and internal fixation, external fixation device, and eventual fusion.

  • $2.5 million settlement

    for 38-year old female electrician (with history of prior neck injury) who tripped on uneven Masonite protective floor covering, and suffered neck injury with herniated discs requiring cervical fusion.

  • $1.2 million settlement

    during trial for 40-year old sheet metal worker who was struck in the neck and shoulder by an air conditioning unit and suffered herniated cervical discs and cervical radiculopathy.

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