New York construction accident attorneys redefine ‘Scaffold Law’
The team from The Perecman Firm, led by David Perecman, scored a victory for a former Local 1456 (now Local 1556 Dockbuilder’s Union) construction worker with a jury verdict of close to $8 million.
In 2006, the worker’s foot got caught between a 2-ton steel block and another block. He had just attached one 4,000-pound block to hooks at the end of a cable. As it was being lifted by a crane, it swung and hit him.
Perecman theorized that this accident was a violation of New York’s Labor Law 240. This law protects and regulates falling objects on a construction site and protects construction workers on the site who are injured due to the effects of gravity.
“When a block swings at the end of a cable, it is a pendulum and pendulums move due to gravity,” Perecman said.
The unique circumstance in this particular construction accident was that the steel block swung several feet while it was being lifted, but did not fall or drop on the worker. According to Perecman, the manner in which the operator lifted the block and the failure to keep it from swinging, violated Labor Law 240.
Construction accidents and New York Labor Law 240
New York State Labor Law 240, also known as the “Scaffold Law,” provides special legal protection to workers who perform tasks at elevated heights. Two reasons for this are (1) injuries that result from elevated falls can be extremely severe, and (2) construction workers rely on others to make sure that the elevated working environment is safe.
The law places responsibility for a worker’s fall from a height on a third party, which can include the general contractor, project owner, and others. According to New York Labor Law 240, it is the responsibility of a third party to furnish appropriate and non-defective safety devices to guard against the risks and guarantee a worker’s safety while he or she is working at an elevated level.
According to the “Scaffold Law,” the third party is also responsible for a worker injured by an object that falls from a height. Other types of falls from elevated heights and accidents can qualify for this law’s protection as well.
Expanding New York State Labor Law 240 following a construction accident
The defendants argued that this accident did not meet the requirements of Labor Law 240.
In their quest to prevent this worker from receiving fair compensation for his injuries, the defendants claimed that the worker ran in front of the moving block and caused his own injury. The defense team also brought in a number of experts. A podiatrist and orthopedic surgeon testified for the defense that the injury had healed well. An economist tried to convince the jury to award the worker much less for his present and future wage losses. The defense also showed surveillance video of the worker walking in the neighborhood where he lived.
None of their arguments stood up to Perecman’s cross-examination, or superseded proof from the worker’s doctor.
“Labor Law 240 was intended to apply even where the traditional circumstances seen in cases brought under this rule of law are not present,” Perecman said.
A few hours after Perecman’s summation, the jury’s verdict validated the worker’s claims.
For more than 30 years, the New York construction accident attorneys at The Perecman Firm have aggressively helped injured workers and/or their families obtain compensation following construction accidents in New York. Contact The Perecman Firm today!