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Safe Place to Work Laws Apply to All Workers No Matter Where They Live

Posted on December 2, 2013 by Kelly Wolford

All construction workers know that when an injury occurs, they are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. These benefits cover medical expenses and provide the worker with a relatively small portion of their loss wages. While these benefits help during the initial stages after an injury, they are inadequate to cover a long term disability which prevents your return to full duty employment. If your accident happened within the geographical boundaries of New York State then you are among a select group of workers who are eligible to recover all of your normal compensation benefits and, in addition, all other losses which are not covered by compensation. These laws apply not just to those who resided in New York State, but to any one who is injured on a construction job located in New York, whether they are from New Jersey, Connecticut Vermont, Massachusetts, Texas or any other state or country.

How it works.

Worker’s compensation is a mandatory no fault insurance system in which the employer is responsible for any work related injury no matter who is at fault or how it occurred. The trade off is that the benefits are capped at a much lower amount than the worker’s true losses and your employer and co-workers are immune from any law suit. Often these are the very same people who caused the accident. New York State recognized many years ago that in the construction field, where the job often goes to the lowest bidder, this encouraged unsafe working conditions rather than promoting safer places to work. Employers could cut back on safety practices with little consequences because cutting corners on safety does not show up in the final work product and if a worker did sustain an injury the worker’s compensation laws protected them from any suit for their negligent acts.

Owners of the property and their contractors are also given immunity under the law if they contracted, or subcontracted, with an “independent contractor,” a legal term that literally means the contractor agreed to do the work free from any direction or control by the owner or their contractor. This encouraged owners and their contractors to hire the lowest bidder and then ignore their safety practices lest they be accused of directing or controlling their practices and open themselves to law suits.

To correct this problem and to encourage everyone involved in the project to provide workers with a safe place to work New York enacted special laws that make all owner of property and the contractors they hire strictly liable to the injured construction workers whether they control the Employer’s activities or hire “independent contractors.”

In New York property owners who allow the project to take place are directly liable to the injured worker for all losses even where the accident was the fault of one of the contractors, the employer, a co-worker and in some instances the fault of the worker him/her self. These are called absolute liability statutes and are referred to by their title, section 240(1), 241(6) and 241-a of the New York State Labor Law.

Why is protection given to residents of other States?

New York has taken a no tolerance policy when it comes to work place safety. No defenses are allowed to avoid these laws including the excuse that the injured construction worker is from another state or country. Besides allowing such an exemption would encourage owners and their contractors to hire workers from outside New York especially in the most dangerous of situations.

Are any worker’s compensation benefits lost?

No. All compensation benefits remain the same whether the compensation benefits are paid under New York State Compensation Plans or From the injured workers place of residents?

Why was I told that all I could collect was my compensation benefits?

Every State has its own laws. Lawyers who practice in other states will not be familiar with every New York State law especially when New York is the only State in the country to have such strict safe place to work laws. Those employers or companies who are aware of these laws are encouraged by their insurance companies not to discuss these laws for fear that they will be subject to a law suit. Some employers and insurance companies deliberately provide misinformation in an attempt to protect themselves from suit.