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How NY's Courts Analyze Worksite Liability When a Ladder Slips

 

As set forth in "How to Prove a Construction Site Accident Case in New York," there are a few primary statutory sections providing for worksite safety in New York, namely, Labor Law Sections §§200, 240(1) and 241(6). The second in this group, Labor Law §240(1), also known as the "Worker Safety Statute," provides for near-automatic liability for the defendant if the worker was injured as the result of an elevation-related risk.

 

Naturally, one of the most common ways that this statute is invoked is where the worker is injured as the result of a fall from a ladder. There is an important caveat to this statute, however:

 

The plaintiff must still prove that the ladder was unsecured at the time of the accident.

 

New York's courts have articulated this rule as follows:

 

"A plaintiff establishes entitlement to summary judgment on liability on a Labor Law §240 (1) claim when he demonstrates that an unsecured ladder, on which he is standing, shifts and causes him to fall (Hart v. Turner Constr. Co., 30 AD3d 213 [1st Dept 2006]; Montalvo v. J. Petrocelli Constr., Inc., 8 AD3d 173 [1st Dept 2004]). Even if a plaintiff himself sets up the ladder, he is entitled to summary judgment if the ladder is unsecured and no other safety devices are provided (Vega v. Rotner Mgt. Corp., 40 AD3d 473 [1st Dept 2007]; Velasco v. Green-Wood Cemetery, 8 AD3d 88 [1st Dept 2004]). "To prevail on a motion for partial summary judgment on his cause of action under Section 240(1), the plaintiff must show both that the statute was violated and that the violation was a proximate cause of his injuries" (Auriemma v. Biltmore Theatre, LLC, 82 AD3d 1, 9-10 [1st Dept 2011])."