Quite simply, New York has some of the best worker protections laws in the United States. In fact, unlike other states, New York even has a law that is specifically designed to protect construction workers who spend their days working high atop scaffolding.
Aptly named the “Scaffolding law,” New York’s Labor Law §240 requires general contractors and property owners to provide construction workers with proper safety equipment — including scaffolding — when the workers are constructing, demolishing, painting or merely cleaning a building. If the owner or contractor fails to fulfill this duty, and a worker is injured in a fall as a result, the owner or contractor may be liable.
While this law may seem rather straight-forward, there is still a great deal of confusion among construction workers when it comes to the Scaffolding Law. Hopefully the following three factors can help clear up some of this confusion.
- The Scaffolding Law applies to more than just scaffolding: Even though Labor Law §240 may be referred to as the “Scaffolding Law,” in reality it applies to many other circumstances, including work-related accidents involving ladders, pulleys, hoists and ropes.
- Workers’ comp claims and Scaffolding Law claims are different: Filing a claim under the state’s workers’ comp laws is very different that filing a claim under the Scaffolding Law. Indeed, the damages available under the Scaffolding law may be significantly greater than those provided by workers’ comp. This is why you should always talk to a personal injury attorney before simply filing a workers’ comp claim.
- There is a time limit for bringing claims under the Scaffolding Law: Following your injury, you must file your claim before the statute of limitations runs out. For most personal injury claims associated with construction accidents, this time limit is typically three years, although this may change depending on the facts of the case. For instance, if the construction accident results in the death of family member, you may only have two years to bring a wrongful death claim. Alternatively, claims involving a government agency may have a time limit of only 90 days.
Keep in mind, there are many other things injured construction workers need to know in addition to these factors, including certain exemptions to the Scaffolding Law involving one- and two-family dwellings. And even though the information above may clear up some of the confusion, it is always best to contact an attorney if you have any questions.