As noted in our earlier articles, How to Prove a Construction Site Accident Case in New York and Construction Site Injuries and New York's Labor Laws, one of the chief means through which a claimant can seek recovery for personal injuries sustained at a construction site is through application of New York Labor Law Section 240(1), also known as the "Worker Safety Statute," which provides that the owner of the premises can be held liable for failure to provide adequate safety devices (that is, unless you are talking about only a one or two-family dwelling).

There is another caveat to this statute that bears mention, however: that at the time of occurrence, the plaintiff was "performing work necessary and incidental to the erection or repair of a building or structure" (see Pisciotta v. St. John's Hosp., 268 AD2d 465, 466 [2000], citing Shields v. St. Marks Hous. Assoc., 230 AD2d 903, 904 [1996]). In that regard, New York's Court of Appeals (the highest court in New York State) has explicitly stated that the analysis of whether a particular activity at issue falls within the ambit of Labor Law 240(1) is case-specific, and that the courts must look at the "general context of the work [being performed at the time of the accident]" (Prats v. Port Auth. of New York and New Jersey, 100 NY2d 878, 882 [2003]).

Importantly, Labor Law 240(1) may be applicable even though "the particular job being performed at the moment plaintiff was injured did not in and of itself constitute construction" (Campisi v. Epos Contr. Corp., 299 AD2d 4, 6 [2002]).

That said, even if the plaintiff falls within the class of people afforded protection by Labor Law 240(1), he is not out of the woods: he still must be able to prove that his injuries were proximately caused by the defendants' failure to comply with the Statute, be it scaffolding or one of the other safety devices enumerated in the Statute. (For more on this topic, please see How to Prove a Construction Site Accident Case in New York.
Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer