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Should contractors face criminal liability for worker injuries? New bill says yes.

If one New York lawmaker has his way, developers and contractors will soon face a lot more than fines if they violate safety rules and a construction worker is injured as a result.

In fact, under the language of Assembly Bill 2966 -- recently introduced by State Assemblyman Francisco Moya -- an employer, or a supervisor acting on the employer's behalf, could be held criminally liable if they ignore or fail to comply with a known safety rule and a construction worker is consequently injured or directly exposed to unnecessary risk.

While the proposed bill has a long way to go before it has a chance to become law, if passed, the legislation dictates that an employer would face either a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the severity of the risk and/or injury to the construction worker. For instance, if the employer violates a "federal, state or local law, standard rule, order or regulation applicable to a work place safety protocol or procedure", then the employer may face one of the following charges:

  • Endangering the welfare of a worker in the third degree, which is a Class A misdemeanor, but only if the construction worker is directly exposed to a risk of bodily injury.
  • Endangering the welfare of a worker in the second degree, which is a Class E felony, but only if the construction worker suffers a serious physical injury as a result.
  • Endangering the welfare of a worker in the first degree, which is a Class D felony, but only if the construction worker is killed as a result.

What if the bill doesn't become law?

Even if AB 2966 doesn't pass, contractors and property owners aren't necessarily off the hook if they violate safety laws. In fact, an injured construction worker may still be able to seek damages in civil court if they are injured because of a safety violation. However, this process can still be complex.

To learn more, you need to contact an experienced construction accident attorney today. A knowledgeable attorney can explain your legal rights and options.

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