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NY Appeal Court Sets Limits on Elevation-Related Risks in Construction Site Accidents

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Jonathan Cooper
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Further augmenting our earlier blog post, "How to Prove a Construction Site Accident Case in New York," here's an important caveat that was articlulated by a New York appellate court in Fenty v. City of New York, et al.: just because a construction worker is injured while at an elevation at a worksite does not mean he is automatically entitled to protection under New York Labor Law § 240(1), and therefore, to recover damages for his personal injuries; rather, the injury must be directly attributable to the elevation-related risk.

In support of its holding, the Appellate Court cited a 2008 opinion from the Court of Appeals (New York State's highest court), which stated, in pertinent part, as follows:

"No Labor Law § 240 (1) liability exists where an injury results from a separate hazard wholly unrelated to the risk which brought about the need for the safety device in the first place."

Consequently, this plaintiff, who was injured when he jumped from a bucket lift in an effort to avoid the unforeseeable hazard of hot steam emanating from a ruptured pipe, was not only unable to recover under New York's Labor Laws, but was also unable to recover in common law negligence, because he could not establish that the defendants had "notice," i.e., that they knew or should have known, that this hazard was likely to occur.

Category: Construction Site Accidents

Jonathan Cooper
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