Critics of New York Labor Law § 240, also known as the Scaffold Law, claim that it is driving up construction costs because of rocketing insurance premiums from the few insurers that still provide construction coverage. This is the same argument used by medical practitioners that are lobbying for medical malpractice law reforms, but the numbers show that insurance is not the problem. The problem is when the duty of care is breached and preventable accidents happen.
The construction industry is undoubtedly a hazardous occupation, and accidents will happen. The Scaffold Law is still in place more than 100 years since it was first enacted because it is an effective deterrent to construction companies and contractors to breach their duty of care towards their workers. This is exactly the purpose for which the Scaffold Law was designed, and despite numerous attempts to dislodge it is still there.
It would be exaggerating to say that the Scaffold Law guarantees an injured worker a win in a personal injury case. The law mandates that if it is proven that the injury from a fall from height accident was due to equipment failure i.e. defective or inadequate ladder, insufficient training i.e. poorly assembled scaffold, or lack of required safety measures i.e. guardrails, then the construction company is liable. If there are no safety violations on the work site, there will be no case.
Unfortunately, most construction sites do have evidence of safety problems which is why when a falling accident happens it is highly probable that the company will be found liable. Changing the law will not change that; if the worksite is unsafe, people will get hurt. The Scaffold Law serves merely as a silent threat to cost-cutting construction managers and companies in New York that is more effective than citations from building inspectors.
If you have been seriously injured in a falling accident, the Scaffold Law may apply to you. Present your case to experienced New York construction accident attorneys to find out if it does.