Many believe that New York’s Labor Laws protect only workers in the construction industry. This is not true. Under Labor Law § 200, workers in all fields are guaranteed the right to a safe workplace. When an owner or contractor with supervision and control of the workplace fails to live up to its duty, and a worker suffers injury as the result, the worker has a right to seek funds to help in his or her recovery.
If you have been injured due to an unsafe workplace in Albany, Syracuse or elsewhere in New York State, contact the work injury lawyers of Powers & Santola, LLP. Since our firm was founded in 1987, we have focused on protecting the rights of injured workers. We can evaluate your case for free and seek the damages you deserve.
How Can You Establish a New York State Labor Law § 200 Claim?
Labor Law § 200 imposes a duty on owners and contractors to ensure that the workplace is “constructed, equipped, arranged, operated and conducted” in a manner that provides “reasonable and adequate protection to the lives, health and safety” of all employees and others who “lawfully frequent” the site. All machinery, equipment and devices in the workplace must be “placed, operated, guarded and lighted” in a manner that provides this protection.
In other words, the statute codifies the common law duty of landowners and contractors to provide workers with a reasonably safe place to work, including workers in construction, manufacturing, plumbing, landscaping, food services, health care and any other industry.
To establish a claim under Labor Law § 200, a worker generally must show:
- A dangerous condition – It could be a dangerous condition on the premises such as defective electrical wiring or machines that lacked proper guards. It could also be a danger created by the manner in which the work is conducted such as a failure to provide workers with respiratory masks.
- The dangerous condition was a “substantial factor” in causing the worker’s injury – For instance, if the owner of the workplace had provided proper lighting, a worker would not have fallen down a flight of stairs.
If you allege that your injury was caused by a dangerous condition on the premises, you must show that the owner or contractor had actual or constructive notice of the unsafe condition. This means the owner or contractor knew of the hazard or reasonably should have known of it.
If you claim that the dangerous condition arose from the manner in which the work was conducted, you must show that the owner or contractor supervised or controlled the work you were doing.
For example, let’s say that a factory owner directs certain workers to inspect machines at the end of every shift. If the worker is injured because a lockout/tagout procedure is not followed, the worker may be able to assert a claim against the factory owner.
A worker who asserts a Labor Law § 200 claim can seek a recovery for:
- Past and future medical, hospital and rehabilitative expenses
- Loss of past and future income and fringe benefits
- Pain and suffering, including loss of enjoyment of life.
In some cases, a workers’ recovery may be offset by the amount he or she has received in other benefits.
Can OSHA Violations Be Used in a Labor Law § 200 Lawsuit?
Unlike other types of lawsuits based on violations of New York Labor Laws, an owner’s or contractor’s violation of regulations established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can serve as the basis for a Labor Law § 200 lawsuit.
According to OSHA, the most frequently cited violations in the U.S. are:
- Failure to provide proper fall protection in construction
- Inadequate hazard communication
- Defective scaffolding in construction
- Lack of respiratory protection
- Failure to follow lockout/tagout procedure
- Issues involving powered industrial trucks
- Faulty electrical wiring methods
- Defective ladders used in construction
- Inadequate machine guarding
- Failure to follow general electrical requirements.
A violation of standards set by the New York Industrial Code may also serve as the basis for a lawsuit. But keep in mind: The violation alone is not enough. You must also show that the violation was a “substantial factor” in causing your injury.
Also, you should be aware that the owner or contractor may assert your own negligence as a defense or contend that the injury you suffered was an “inherent risk” of the job. It is crucial to work with a lawyer who will know how to challenge those claims and protect your right to a full and fair recovery.
Other Options for Injured Workers
Other options for seeking a full recovery may be available to workers who are injured in non-construction jobs. A “third-party liability claim” may be pursued against any non-employer or co-worker who caused the injury due to their negligent or wrongful conduct.
For instance, if you are a delivery driver who was hit and seriously injured by a negligent driver, you may be able to seek damages through the at-fault driver’s liability insurance.
In another scenario, you could possibly bring a product liability claim against the manufacturer of a defective tool or piece of equipment that harmed you when you used it as intended.
Get Help Today from a Work Injury Lawyer Serving Albany and Syracuse
The work injury attorneys of Powers & Santola, LLP, have decades of combined experience in securing verdicts and settlements for workers in a wide range of industries, including construction, manufacturing and health care. We know how to thoroughly investigate these cases. We can also consult with a network of highly qualified job safety experts.
Above all, we are passionate about seeking a just recovery for those who have been injured on the job. We want to make sure you recover the money that you and your family need for your medical care and your rehabilitation.
Contact us without delay if you have been hurt at a workplace in Albany, Syracuse or anywhere else in New York State. We can review your case at no charge and get to work right away.
Sources / More Information
- OSHA Announces Top 10 Most-Cited Violations for FY 2014, Safety + Health Magazine
- Law and Regulations, Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- New York Industrial Code, New York State Department of Labor