Overview of New York Construction Laws

Jeff Varcadipane

July 7, 2022

Overview of New York Construction Laws

New York Labor Law § 200 is the state labor law providing that all owners and contractors must make all workplaces under their control reasonably safe for their workers, and they need to construct, equip, arrange, operate, and conduct all worksites to provide reasonable and adequate protection to all people who have employment there. Anybody who suffers serious injuries on a construction worksite in New York will want to immediately contact an experienced New York construction accident attorney.

Construction workers have some of the most dangerous jobs in New York City, and strict state labor laws requiring employers to provide safe working conditions do not always prevent injuries on these job sites. Some employers may cut corners in an effort to save money, and the effect can often be that employees are put in harm’s way.

New York Scaffolding Laws

New York Labor Law § 240 is more commonly known as the state scaffold law and establishes several statutory requirements relating to the safety of construction activities taking place upon buildings, which can include a wide variety of structures. The law creates strict liability for worker injuries and holds contractors and property owners doing construction, repair, or demolition work fully liable for any gravity-related injuries, despite any gross negligence on the part of an injured employee. 

Workers involved in erecting, demolishing, repairing, altering, painting, or cleaning buildings or structures in New York will have coverage under the scaffold law, and the types of incidents will include not only falls but also injuries resulting from falling objects. This means that construction contractors and property owners can be liable for worker injuries even when an employer did not act with fault or negligence, but the worker did. 

The Scaffold Law also allows an injured worker to sue a third party, meaning someone other than the employer, in addition to obtaining workers’ compensation. The law could potentially affect many subcontractors on worksites. The law also means that construction companies and property owners can face exposure to the vicarious liability of independent contractors working on projects or property. In other words, construction companies using independent contractors for temporary work could be treating independent contractors as employees and covering them under their workers’ compensation policies.

Third-Party Claims

The immunity from lawsuits typically only applies to an employee’s actual employer, but not third parties, which can be any person or company other than the employer who is at fault for an accident. Third-party personal injury claims are particularly common in the construction industry because there are often so many different legal entities involved in construction projects.

A third-party claim could involve a property owner, general contractor, subcontractor, architect, engineer, manufacturer, or equipment distributor, as well as anyone else involved in the project who is not a victim’s direct employer. 

The third party could even be a person who was not directly involved in a construction project, such as a motor vehicle driver who strikes a worker at a road work site. Unlike workers’ compensation claims, which do not require any proof of fault, a third-party claim will involve having to prove that a third party was negligent and their failure to honor the duty of care led to a victim suffering injuries. 

Third-party claims can provide many types of compensation not available in workers’ compensation cases, such as damages for lost past and future wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, home or vehicle modifications, and loss of enjoyment of life.

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If you sustain severe injuries in a construction accident in New York, and we have a record of success for our clients. Call (866) 643-0606 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation that will allow us to take a closer look at your case and help outline your next legal steps.

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