In most places, when a construction worker gets hurt on the job, the only option for that construction worker to seek financial compensation is to file a workers’ compensation claim. Indeed, in most states, the workers’ compensation system is known as an “exclusive remedy,” which limits the worker’s ability to seek compensation by filing a lawsuit. However, any construction worker who has been injured in Syracuse or elsewhere in the state should know that New York is very different from other states when it comes to construction worker injuries.
There are specific sections of New York Labor Law that allow injured workers to file lawsuits against negligent employers for injuries that occur on construction sites. In most cases, an injured construction worker can be eligible to seek workers’ compensation coverage and to file a lawsuit under New York Labor Law when an injury arises out of an employer’s negligence.
Our experienced Syracuse construction accident attorneys can provide you with more information about New York Labor Law and construction injury cases.
Workers’ Compensation is Not an Exclusive Remedy for Construction Accident Injuries Caused by Employer Negligence
New York law is distinct from the laws in other states in that workers’ compensation is not an exclusive remedy for construction accident injuries that were caused by employer negligence. What does this mean? In short, in other states, if a construction worker gets hurt on the job, they cannot sue their employer for negligence. For example, if a construction site employer fails to provide proper training on how to conduct safe excavation work, or fails to ensure that workers have appropriate fall protection equipment at all times, other states say that the injured worker’s only route for compensation is to file a workers’ compensation claim. The language of “exclusive remedy” means that workers’ compensation benefits are the sole or exclusive remedy for the injured worker. However, New York is different.
When a construction worker gets hurt on the job because of an employer’s negligence — and it is important to be clear that this is only true for construction workers and not for employees in other industries — the injured construction worker may be eligible to file a negligence lawsuit under New York Labor Law. To be sure, New York Labor Law has three sections under which an injured construction worker may be able to sue their employer for negligence.
Understanding the Relevant Sections of New York Labor Law
Which sections of New York Labor Law may apply to Syracuse construction accident cases? There are three key sections that may be applicable to a construction accident case:
- Section 200, which is a general negligence section;
- Section 240, which is often known as the scaffold law and allows claims for injuries caused by negligent fall protection; and
- Section 241, which allows for claims largely arising out of injuries resulting from negligence in excavation and demolition work on New York construction sites.
Under Section 200 of New York Labor Law, construction employers have a “general duty to protect [the] health and safety of employees.” The law makes clear that employers have a duty to ensure that all construction sites in Syracuse are “constructed, equipped, arranged, operated, and conducted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to the lives, health, and safety of all persons employed therein or lawfully frequenting such places.”
In addition, employers have a duty to ensure that “all machinery, equipment, and devices in such places” is “placed, operated, guarded, and lighted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to all such persons.” Accordingly, when any construction accident in Syracuse results from an employer’s negligence in any of these regards, the injured worker may be able to file a claim under Section 200.
Sections 240 and 241 are more specific. Section 240 of New York Labor Law requires that employers ensure that scaffolding is safe for use and that construction workers are not injured in falls from heights. All scaffolding, ladders, and other devices used for construction work above ground level must be “constructed, placed, and operated as to give proper protection” to construction workers. Section 241 lists specific safety work in excavation and demolition work on construction sites.
Contact a Syracuse Construction Accident Lawyer
Were you injured on a construction site in or around Syracuse due to your employer’s negligence? You could be eligible to file a lawsuit against your employer under New York Labor Law. It is important to have an experienced Syracuse construction accident attorney assess your case to determine whether your employer may be liable and whether New York Labor Law applies to your case. Contact Powers & Santola, LLP in Syracuse today to get started on your claim.