As previously discussed in our articles "What A Plaintiff Must Prove To Win A Construction Site Accident Case" and "Construction Site Injuries And New York's Labor Laws," a property owner may be held strictly - and in some cases, absolutely - liable for construction site injuries.

In a decision that was handed down on November 13, however, an upstate New York appeals court had occasion to discuss an important exception to this general rule: the owner of a one or two-family dwelling. In discussing the underlying reason for the amendment that created 'Homeowner Exception,' New York's highest court stated as follows:

"[The Homeowner Exception was] intended by the Legislature to shield homeowners from the harsh consequences of strict liability under the provisions of the Labor Law [and] reflect[s] the legislative determination that the typical homeowner is no better situated than the hired worker to furnish appropriate safety devices and to procure suitable insurance protection."

In this particular case, the appeals court went further, and held that the Homeowner Exception also applied to a case where the plaintiff was injured while working on a vacant lot, but the plans indicated that they intended to build a one or two-family dwelling. Therefore, the appeals court upheld the dismissal of the plaintiff's case.
Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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