Liability laws have certainly become tougher, especially in the construction industry where accidental injury is an occupational hazard. These laws are meant to protect the rights of all parties concerned. That includes protection of employers from liability for injuries which result from careless or reckless behavior of employees in the workplace as well as workers who suffer injury because of the negligence of employers. In general, the laws apportion assessed damages according to percentage of fault, such as Wisconsin (comparative negligence).
Labor Law 240, also known as the Scaffold Law, characterizes liability for an elevation-related (falling from height) construction accident in New York City in a unique way. The law states that the contractor who owns the policy for a particular construction project has “absolute liability.” This means the contractor or developer is responsible for any falling injuries that may happen on site, even if the injured worker was partly or wholly responsible for the accident that caused the injury. For example, if a worker neglects to use the safety harness required for working at height and falls, the contractor’s insurance will still pay for the medical bills and other costs to the worker. This effectively absolves the worker from any fault in the occurrence, and no defense may be mounted using the doctrine of comparative negligence.
Interested parties have been lobbying against the Scaffold Law, maintaining it makes the worksite more dangerous than it should be. Notwithstanding the pros and cons of the Scaffold Law, there is no question that contractors have been known to take shortcuts when it comes to ensuring safety in the worksite to save on costs. If you have been injured in a construction accident because of the negligence of the contractor, you may have an actionable case no matter what state you are in. Consult with a personal injury lawyer and find out your legal options.