If you are injured in a construction accident in Manhattan, you will need a Manhattan construction accident attorney to help you with your case. New York has a powerful law to protect construction workers from gravity-related risks. This includes risks of falling from a height or being struck by a falling object. The statute (informally called the scaffold law) holds construction site owners and general contractors strictly liable for violations of the law. It applies regardless of whether the owners and contractors control the work being performed. This law says that a court cannot consider a worker’s comparative fault. However, there are limits to this statute. A worker must be performing certain types of work to sue under this law.
A Manhattan Construction Accident
In a notable case, a worker sustained an injury in a Manhattan construction accident, and hired an attorney to bring his case. The job involved work on an existing building. The building’s owner hired a masonry company to perform work on its building. That masonry company hired a fabricating company. This company fabricated sills, lintels, and coping stones for the project. Part of the job of fabricating these materials included workers going to the worksite and taking measurements prior to the fabrication. The company then fabricated the sills, lintels, and coping stones offsite at their workshop.
While taking measurements in preparation for fabricating coping stones on the roof of the building, the worker fell. He fell from the roof to a terrace approximately 10 to 12 feet below. As a result, the worker suffered a traumatic brain injury, resulting in a total loss of memory of the construction accident. He was on an exterior setback roof that was located on the fourth floor outside the terrace. Located on top of the exterior setback roof was a mechanical roof. The mechanical roof level lacked guardrails and safety nets. There were also no guardrails or safety nets on the perimeter of the setback roof level. There was nothing to prevent the worker from falling from the roof. Interestingly, falling accidents commonly occur on construction sites.
The worker and his wife sued the building and the masonry company (the defendants) under the law. Following discovery, the plaintiff (the injured worker) and both defendants moved for summary judgment. The trial court dismissed the claims brought by the plaintiff against both defendants.
The plaintiff appealed, arguing that he was performing protected work under the law at the time of his accident.
After argument, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision. They found that the worker’s company job consisted of fabricating sills, lintels, and coping stones to be used in the construction of the subject building. The job included going to the worksite and climbing to the roof of the building to take measurements. They could not fabricate these materials without the measurements. Accordingly, the injured worker was performing a task in preparation to the construction work at the time of his accident. Thus, the law applied. In addition, the plaintiff established an entitlement to summary judgment on his claims under the law because both defendants testified that there were no safety devices present on the job site to aid the plaintiff in his work.
Who is to Blame?
The plaintiff successfully established that this constituted a violation of the law and that this violation was a proximate cause of his accident and injuries. The masonry company qualified as either a general contractor or agent of the owner under the law. The owner authorized the masonry company to supervise and control the work the injured plaintiff was performing at the time of his injury. Accordingly, the appellate court also found the masonry company liable for the accident. The court remanded the case to trial. It subsequently settled. If you sustain any type of injury, especially one caused by a construction accident, it is absolutely crucial to contact an attorney as soon as possible.