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NYC construction worker deaths: Why New York's "Scaffold Law" is important

We have talked in previous posts about the alarming rise of construction-related deaths in New York City. Many of the city's recent fatal accidents have involved falls and falling machinery. There is a painful feeling among workers, workers' families and worker advocates that some of the accidents could have been prevented.

Placing safety responsibility where it belongs

New York State Labor Law Section 240, which is sometimes known as the "Scaffold Law," is designed to hold project owners and contractors accountable for injuries to workers on construction sites. Where the worker falls from a height or is struck by a falling object, the law recognizes that workers who are exposed to such elevation-related conditions are subject to the risk of serious injuries. These rules are important because they place primary responsibility for safety where it belongs -- on the owners and contractors (and their agents) who control the job site.

Some businesses choose to put profits ahead of worker safety. It is not surprising that a number of New York builders and developers would like to see the "Scaffold Law" dismantled or weakened.

What does Section 240 do for workers and their families?

Section 240 provides the families of injured and deceased construction workers with a way to gain closure and get the financial help they need after a tragedy has occurred. The law specifically applies to workers in construction areas who have fallen from heights or been hit by falling objects.

Section 240 provides a basis for claims that can help adequately compensate the family of a worker who dies or is catastrophically injured. It specifies the manner in which safety is the responsibility of the contractor or project owner, and it allows injured workers to bring so-called "third-party" lawsuits against the owners and contractors who failed to provide proper protection for the workers.

What if it has happened to you?

If your family has experienced a life-changing construction accident, get the legal advice you need, as soon as you can. You have nothing to lose.

Personal injury attorneys in the field of construction accidents generally do not charge fees to talk to families of injured or deceased workers. Injured workers are entitled to legal protection regardless of whether they belong to a union and regardless of their immigration status.

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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.

*AV Preeminent is the highest rating of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell ratings fall into two categories - legal ability and general ethical standards.

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