Under the New York Labor Law, owners and general contractors of construction sites in the Bronx and New York City are obligated to ensure that work is performed in a manner that protects workers from exposure to safety hazards that can result in serious construction injuries. The New York State Legislature, in creating the Labor Law, recognized that projects involving “construction, demolition and excavation” work often, by their very nature, feature particularly serious hazards that can only be mitigated by adherence to, and enforcement of, strict safety standards and rules by owners and general contractors (those in the best position to ensure worker safety on Bronx construction sites). It was with this in mind that the Legislature, in the mid-1960s, created the modern iteration of Section 241(6) of the New York Labor Law, which now provides a mechanism for injured Bronx construction workers to obtain compensation if they are injured due to the failure of an owner or general contractor to maintain a job site in a safe condition.
Section 241(6) of the Labor Law was designed to be integrated with Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code (also known as “Rule 23”), a set of rules promulgated by the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor setting forth specific safety requirements that apply to certain types of heavy construction, demolition and excavation work performed anywhere within the State of New York. Rule 23 was created by the Department of Labor after a study of hazards that commonly cause serious construction injuries with the intent to require that owners and general contractors provide specific forms of protection to construction workers on job sites in the Bronx and all over New York State. If it is proven that a violation of Rule 23 caused a worker to suffer a serious construction injury, the injured worker can obtain compensation under Labor Law Section 241(6) from the owner and general contractor who failed to ensure that the worker was afforded proper protection from danger on the job.
How Does New York Labor Law Section 241(6) Apply to a Bronx Construction Accident?
Section 241(6) of the New York Labor Law does not apply to every Bronx construction injury accident. In order to determine whether any particular construction accident can create Labor Law 241(6) liability, there are several levels of analysis that must be undertaken. Our team of expert Bronx construction accident attorneys is intimately familiar with the details of the New York Labor Law and offers free consultations to analyze your Bronx construction accident case to determine if your case qualifies for the special protections of Section 241(6) of the Labor Law. It should be noted that, even if your construction injury claims do not qualify for the protections of Labor Law 241(6), you may be able to obtain compensation through other portions of the Labor Law such as through the “Scaffold Law” or Section 200 of the Labor Law, depending on the facts of your particular case.
The first step in this analysis is to determine whether the work that an injured construction worker was performing at the time of an accident qualifies for the protections of Section 241(6) of the Labor Law. The statutory language of Section 241(6), combined with many years of judicial interpretation, have circumscribed the types of activities that qualify for Section 241(6) protection to those involved in “construction, demolition and excavation” only. Though not a part of the statute itself, New York courts apply the definitions of these terms contained in Rule 23-1.4 of the Industrial Code to determine whether a particular activity qualifies for statutory protection. If an injured worker cannot prove that he or she was engaged in the type of work that is covered under the Labor Law, their case will not be successful. If our firm accepts your construction accident lawsuit, we will help you prove that your work qualifies for these statutory protections, and you will never pay us a fee, or pay one penny of any expenses, unless we win your case.
For example, Rule 23-1.4(b)(16) defines “Demolition Work” as follows: “The work incidental to, or associated with, the total or partial dismantling or razing of a building or other structure including the removing or dismantling of machinery or other equipment.” As can be seen, this definition is not exact, and leaves ample room for interpretation. Cases that might not involve quintessential “construction, demolition or excavation” work may qualify for the special protections of the Labor Law if handled properly. Over these inexact definitions, the courts have engrafted additional tests and requirements to determine whether an injured worker can qualify for Labor Law protection if a construction injury occurs.
To prove that your case qualifies under Section 241(6) of the Labor Law, it must be prepared properly so as to demonstrate that you were truly engaged in a qualifying activity at the time of your construction accident, and you must trust this important work to only the best Bronx construction accident lawyers like those at our firm. We know how to apply the Labor Law correctly to ensure that you can obtain the compensation that you deserve if you are injured. The determination of whether your case qualifies is not a simple one, and requires expertise and familiarity with the statutory language and court decisions interpreting it, which are always changing and evolving over time. We will advise you – in a free consultation with no risk to you – if the activity in which you were engaged when you were injured qualifies for the protections of the Labor Law, and you will never pay us a fee or expense of any kind unless we win your case.
How Does Rule 23 of the New York Industrial Code Apply to Create Liability Under New York Labor Law Section 241(6)?
Once it is determined that the activity an injured Bronx construction worker was performing qualifies for the protections of Labor Law Section 241(6), the next step is to determine whether a specific Rule 23 violation occurred and caused the accident. Without a specific violation of one of these rules, there can be no liability under Labor Law Section 241(6). Rule 23 is legally unique in that, though it is a regulation, a violation can create negligence per se, rather than simply evidence of negligence as with most other regulatory violations. This is because, generally, it is only the violation of a statute (a law passed by either a state legislature or the Congress of the United States) that creates negligence per se, while normal regulatory violations only create evidence of negligence. Because every violation of Section 241(6) of the Labor Law must be predicted upon a Rule 23 violation, New York courts have determined that a qualifying Rule 23 violation is tantamount to a statutory violation that can create negligence per se.
Rule 23 contains an expansive list of rules that apply to many different types of construction accident claims, and selecting the correct rule under which to bring your construction accident lawsuit is key to the success of the case. It is important to know that not every rule listed within Rule 23 can serve as a predicate for Labor Law Section 241(6) liability. Over time, New York courts have decided that only those rules that contain “specific safety directives” to owners and general contractors on construction sites can serve as a basis for liability. Court decisions spanning many decades have narrowed the list of the rules within Rule 23 that provide sufficiently specific directives, finding that some rules simply provide “general directives” that are too broad and non-specific to support liability under Section 241(6) of the Labor Law. For this reason, it is of critical importance that the correct rule violations be claimed in any Bronx construction accident case, as the selection of the wrong rules upon which to base your case can result in outright dismissal and a total loss of your ability to obtain compensation if you are injured.
For example, imagine a case in which a Bronx construction worker was injured when, as he was walking across a rebar mat cleaning up debris to prepare the area for concrete to be poured, he slipped and fell through the rebar mat because the rebar was wet and slippery due to having been hosed off a short time before the accident. Under these facts, a skillful Bronx construction accident lawyer would look to Rule 23-1.7(d), which provides that owners and general contractors “shall not suffer or permit any employee to use a floor, passageway, walkway, scaffold, platform or other elevated working surface which is in a slippery condition[,]” and must ensure that “[i]ce, snow, water, grease and any other foreign substance which may cause slippery footing shall be removed, sanded or covered to provide safe footing.” As can be seen, Rule 23-1.7(d) provides a specific directive requiring that workers not be allowed to work upon slippery surfaces where no safe footing is provided. In this example, because the worker was forced to walk over wet rebar that had not been dried or otherwise covered to provide him with safe footing while performing his work, the worker would be entitled to compensation under Section 241(6) of the Labor Law.
Are There any Defenses to a Construction Injury Claim Brought Under New York Labor Law Section 241(6)?
Unlike construction accident cases brought under the “Scaffold Law”, defendants can raise a defense of comparative negligence in cases brought under Labor Law Section 241(6). This means that the defendants can point to negligence on the part of an injured Bronx construction worker to reduce the amount of compensation owed, or to escape liability entirely. You should always consult with an experienced Bronx construction accident lawyer to ensure that the effects of comparative negligence on your case are minimized if you are injured.
For example, imagine a situation in which a worker suffers severe burn injuries when he is splashed with corrosive chemicals while working on a job site. Imagine further that, though required, the worker was not wearing a chemical protective suit at the time of the accident. The worker argues that the reason that he was not wearing a protective chemical suit at the time of the accident was that one was not loaded into his work truck at the beginning of the workday by his supervisor; the defendants argue that it was the worker’s own responsibility to ensure that the proper safety equipment was brought to the job site. Under Rule 23-1.7(h), the owners and general contractors at the job site are obligated to provide the worker with the proper clothing and equipment to protect him from exposure to corrosive chemicals. However, because comparative negligence is a defense under Section 241(6) of the Labor Law, the owners and general contractor – the defendants in the case – can attempt to blame the worker for his failure to make sure that he had the right safety equipment to guard against injury.
How do I know if I have a case Under New York Labor Law Section 241(6)?
Labor Law Section 241(6) can be applied to many types of Bronx construction accidents, including the following:
- Scaffold Accidents.
- Ladder Accidents.
- Dangerous Machinery Accidents.
- Falls into Holes and Pits.
- Falling Object Accidents.
- Dangerous Chemical Accidents.
- Construction Slip/Trip-and-Fall Accidents.
- Electrocution Accidents.
- Failures to Provide Safety Equipment.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a construction accident anywhere in the Bronx or New York City, our team of expert construction injury attorneys offers you and your family a free consultation to determine if your case qualifies for compensation under the New York Labor Law. We are extremely selective with respect to the Bronx construction accident cases that we take so that we can devote the proper amount of time, attention and resources to every case that we accept and ensure that each case is properly prepared to stand up at trial and on appeal. If we take your case, we will ensure that you obtain maximum compensation for your injuries, including with respect to pain and suffering, lost economic benefits and wages, lost union benefits, and workers compensation. If a loved one is killed in a Bronx construction accident, we will help your family file a claim for wrongful death under the New York Labor Law. We offer you a no-fee guarantee: if we do not win your case, you do not pay us a dime in fees or expenses no matter what.