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Who can be held liable under Labor Law 240?

People who enter construction work in New York understand that there are certain dangers inherent in the type of work that they do. In many types of construction, there is exposure to heavy machinery, power tools, and toxic fumes, and people oftentimes must work at high heights. Other potentially dangerous conditions can exist, too. When carried out correctly, the job is generally safe, but this does not always happen. This can lead to construction accidents.

One common type of accident that occurs at construction sites is falls. Construction workers must work on scaffolding, ladders, swings, and other apparatuses that allow them to work at great heights. If a ladder is not set right or if scaffolding is poorly constructed, then people can fall and suffer significant injuries as a result. These injuries can be costly for the victims as well, which is why workers are protected by Labor Law 240.

This law places strict liability on the owners, contractors, and agents when a worker falls from the various apparatuses used to allow workers to work at significant heights. This means that if a worker falls on the job, then the owner, contractor, and/or agent will be liable to compensate the worker.

So, it becomes very important to determine who is considered an owner, contractor, or agent at the particular construction site in question. The courts have generally defined "owner" broadly to include almost anyone with ownership interest in the property regardless of whether they lease the property or they contracted to have the work done. "Contractors" are generally considered to be the general contractor of a particular job, but any one of their agents who have the authority to direct or supervise the work being done could also be liable as well.

Many construction workers fall while on the job. These workers can suffer life-changing injuries, incur significant medical bills, and lose income if they are unable to work. However, these injured workers may be able to recover compensation for their injuries under Labor Law 240. Experienced attorneys understand the importance of recovering unexpected damages, which is why victims of workplace accidents may want to discuss their particular set of circumstances with an experienced attorney.

Source:, "State of New York Construction Law Compendium" accessed on May 7, 2018

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