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One Powerful Way to Defeat a Labor Law 240(1) Case in New York

As I've noted elsewhere, such as "How to Prove a Construction Site Accident Case In New York," there are a few different ways to prove one of these cases, with one of the preferred means being through Labor Law 240(1), the Worker Safety Statute, because that law holds the defendants absolutely liable for the plaintiff's injuries if they had not complied with the particular safety statutes meant to guard against that type of injury.

There is an important caveat to that rule, however:

The defendants are not liable when they can prove that the plaintiff's own conduct and decisions were the sole proximate cause of the accident.

"Why?" you ask.

Because if the plaintiff's actions were the sole cause for the accident, by necessity, it means that the defendants' acts or omissions did not cause the accident, and therefore, cannot be held liable as a matter of law. See, e.g., Robinson v East Med. Ctr., LP, 6 NY3d 550, 554 [2006]; see Blake v Neighborhood Hous. Servs. of N.Y. City, 1 NY3d 280, 290 [2003].

In truth, this rule makes a lot of sense. In cases where the plaintiff was the one solely responsible for directing the manner in which the work was to be performed - it stands to reason that if he gets injured in that process, he shouldn't be able to look to anyone else for reimbursement.


Jonathan Cooper
Employment Litigation and School Negligence Lawyer