In the case Viera v WFJ Realty Corp., the plaintiff was working on a scaffold, affixing aluminum siding to the roof of a grocery store. The plaintiff allegedly was injured when a piece of the siding that he was handling came into contact with overhead power lines, causing him to sustain an electric shock and fall off the scaffold.
The Appellate Division, Second Department, held that the injured worker was entitled to the protections of Labor Law 240(1) and granted him summary judgment. A copy of the decision can be found here. Specifically, the Second Department stated:
"Here, the plaintiff established his prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by demonstrating that he was injured when he fell from a scaffold that lacked a safety railing, and that he was not provided with a safety device to prevent him from falling."
Commonly known as the "Scaffold Law," New York Labor Law 240(1) offers financial protection to construction workers who have suffered elevation-related injuries. The labor law places absolute liability-meaning that liability is imposed regardless of fault–on the property owner and general contractor when a worker suffers an injury due to a fall from elevation or is struck by a falling object. By placing absolute liability on general contractors and property owners, the labor law essentially provides construction workers compensation for damages for most elevation-related injuries.
While grounds for compensation under New York Labor Law 240(1) may seem obvious to injured workers, construction companies and contractors often disagree and are willing to fight claims in court. Property owners and construction companies can have vast resources that they are willing to exhaust in order to avoid paying injured workers the compensation they may deserve. As a result, it is important that construction workers who have suffered an on-site injury retain an attorney with experience handling law suits relating to Labor Laws 240(1) and 241(6).