Construction workers in New York City and the Bronx are, by the very nature of their work, exposed to workplace hazards that are among the most dangerous faced by any profession. The New York State legislature, in recognition of these special risks, has enacted various statutory and regulatory schemes designed to protect workers from specific hazards that are unique to construction sites. These include the “Scaffold Law” and Labor Law Section 241(6), which provide protection to construction workers from very specific types of hazards involving “gravity-related” injuries or violations of the New York Industrial Code. For example, construction accidents involving falls from height or being struck with a falling object are specifically addressed by the Scaffold Law, whereas construction injuries caused by contact with harmful chemicals are covered under Section 241(6).
However, not every Bronx construction accident involves a risk that is specifically covered by either Labor Law Section 240 or 241(6), by the New York Industrial Code, or by a specific O.S.H.A. standard. To address cases not specifically covered by these special laws and rules, the New York Legislature enacted Section 200 of the New York Labor Law, which allows injured construction workers to apply general negligence principles to construction accident lawsuits and obtain compensation for failures by job site owners, general contractors and, under certain special circumstances, sub-contractors (such as the plaintiff’s own employer) to provide the injured worker with a safe workplace. Where a Bronx construction accident occurs due to a dangerous defect on a job site, or due to unsafe means and methods of performance of construction work, Labor Law Section 200 can be used to hold the responsible parties to account in court. If you have been injured in a construction accident in the Bronx or elsewhere in New York City, contact our firm today for a free consultation to learn whether your case qualifies for the protections of the New York Labor Law.
What Protections Does Section 200 of the New York Labor Law Provide to Injured Bronx Construction Workers?
Section 200 of the Labor Law provides, in summary, that all New York construction sites must be operated in such a manner as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to workers from general construction site hazards. This directive is a codification of “common-law” (i.e., the law as developed by the courts over time) principles of negligence that apply generally beyond the construction accident context. There are two primary tests that are used to determine whether a construction injury is compensable under Section 200 of the Labor Law; these tests can be applied to many different types of construction accidents to obtain compensation from an owner or general contractor who was negligent in causing a construction injury on a site anywhere in the Bronx or elsewhere in New York City.=
The first test involves a determination of whether an injured worker was hurt because he or she made contact with a dangerous or defective condition, and whether the owner or general contractor had notice of this condition. This test is usually applied to cases such as trip-and-fall accidents on construction sites where there is an allegation that some dangerous condition on the premises of the job site caused a construction accident and should have been recognized and removed from the job site before the accident was allowed to occur. The concept of “notice” is key to application of Labor Law 200 under this test. “Notice” requires a showing that the owner and general contractor knew, or should have known, of the dangerous condition that caused the accident but failed to remove it or otherwise make the job site safe before the accident occurred. For example, if you are involved in a scaffold accident in which, while working atop a scaffold, you slip and fall on ice that has built up on the scaffold planks, you may be able to hold the owner and general contractor of the job site responsible for your injuries under Labor Law 200 by showing that they knew, or should have known, of this hazardous condition before your accident occurred.
The second test involves a determination of whether or not a worker’s injuries were caused by unsafe work practices over which the owner or general contractor had sufficient supervisory control. This test applies to cases in which the actual means and methods of the work are unsafe and the unsafe work practices cause a worker to be injured. Courts evaluating Labor Law 200 claims involving injuries caused by unsafe work practices ask whether each defendant – usually the owner of the job site and the general contractor – exercised control over the “means and methods” by which the injury-producing work was being performed at the time of the construction accident in question. The key issue in such a case is whether the defendants – the owner of the job site and the general contractor – directed or controlled the work and had the authority to order that any unsafe work practices be stopped. For example, if you are working in a basement assembling a sump pump, and a plumber working above you installing piping in the ceiling drops a piece of metal pipe on your head and causes you serious injuries, you may be able to hold the owner and general contractor liable under Section 200 of the Labor Law if you can demonstrate that each of these defendants controlled the means and methods of the plumber’s work and had the authority to stop the job upon recognizing that the working conditions were unsafe.
Who is Protected Under Section 200 of the New York Labor Law?
As with the Scaffold Law and Labor Law 241(6), the protections of Section 200 of the Labor Law are restricted to those people who are “permitted or suffered to work” (i.e., hired to work) at a place where an accident occurs. Unlike the Scaffold Law and Labor Law 241(6), however, the work being conducted at the time of an accident does not have to fit within narrow statutory categories of qualifying work to merit legal protection under Labor Law Section 200. As long as you can prove that you were hired to work on a job site, in a factory, or anywhere else, you may be able to use Labor Law Section 200 to obtain compensation if you are injured due to unsafe conditions at a worksite, or due to unsafe means and methods of work that subject you to harm. Our Bronx construction accident lawyers are standing by to discuss whether you qualify for these special protections, and offer you a free consultation to teach you about what your rights may be
Are There Any Limitations to Liability Under Section 200 of the New York Labor Law?
Liability under Labor Law Section 200 is not unlimited. Certain parties working on a Bronx construction site – most notably the injured worker’s employer – cannot be held responsible for a construction accident under Labor Law 200 except in certain specific circumstances. An injured worker’s employer cannot generally be held responsible for a construction accident pursuant to Section 11 of the Workers’ Compensation Law. This provision, known as the “exclusive remedy” provision, provides that injured workers cannot directly sue their employers for negligence, but must rely exclusively on workers’ compensation unless the employer failed to maintain proper workers’ compensation insurance, in which case the injured worker can sue their employer directly.
There are also indirect means through which an injured worker can obtain compensation from their employer pursuant to Labor Law 200. If an injured worker suffers a “grave injury” as defined by the Workers’ Compensation Law, and the worker sues the owner and general contractor under Labor Law 200, the defendants can “implead” the employer, allowing the worker to indirectly hold the employer responsible for negligence that would otherwise be impermissible under the Workers’ Compensation Law. Finally, defendants can also sue the plaintiff’s employer under contractual indemnity theories, allowing the injured worker to indirectly receive compensation for negligence from his or her employer despite the limitations inherent in the Workers’ Compensation Law.
How Can I prove that I am Entitled to Compensation Under Section 200 of the New York Labor Law?
Labor Law Section 200 is applicable to many types of construction accidents occurring on job sites all over the Bronx and New York City. Some of these include:
- Construction Slip/Trip-and-Fall Accidents.
- Falls into Holes and Pits.
- Scaffold Accidents.
- Dangerous Machinery Accidents.
- Failures to Provide Safety Equipment.
- Falling Object Accidents.
- Dangerous Chemical Accidents.
- Electrocution Accidents.
- Ladder Accidents.
If you are injured in a construction accident in the Bronx or elsewhere in New York City, our firm invites you to come in for a free consultation to determine if you have a case under the New York Labor Law’s unsafe workplace rules. We are very selective regarding the Bronx construction accident cases that we accept, ensuring that we can devote the proper amount of time, attention and resources to every case and ensure that each case is properly prepared to stand up at trial and on appeal. If we accept your case, we will hire the proper safety experts to prove liability, and will hire the right doctors, life-care experts, and economists to substantiate your medical damages, pain and suffering and economic damages such as lost earnings and health insurance benefits to ensure that you are made whole after a catastrophic Bronx construction accident. If you are a member of a trade union, we will ensure that you receive the full measure of any lost union benefits such as welfare benefits, pension benefits and vacation pay; and will help you obtain all of the workers compensation benefits to which you are entitled if you are injured on the job.