NY Construction Industry Calls For Section 240/241 Reform

Controversy regarding sections 240/241 of New York’s Labor Law has surfaced as contractors and property owners argue that their insurance premiums are too expensive and, ultimately, affect taxpayers and New York residents. The Business Council of New York State, Inc. told the State Insurance Department, Dec. 29, 2009, that the construction industry in New York is facing an insurance crisis because of the labor law.

Labor Law Sections 240/241 Impose Strict Liability

The labor law sections 240 and 241 of the New York statutes protect construction workers who are injured in scaffolding or ladder-related accidents while on the job. Unlike all other laws concerning construction site accidents, sections 240 and 241 impose “strict liability.” This means that when a worker is injured or killed in an accident involving a ladder or scaffolding, he/she does not have to prove negligence on behalf of their employer or another party.

What this means for the construction industry, argues the Council, is that property owners and contactors are not able to defend themselves in liability cases that fall under the statute. In all other construction accident cases, the plaintiff (injured worker) has to be able to prove that the employer or another party’s negligence caused the accident to be able to collect in a product liability case.

In a testimony submitted to the Insurance Department, the Business Council of New York State, Inc. stated, “Offering insurance to an industry that cannot even defend itself is fighting a losing battle. It is no wonder that general liability coverage premiums continue to increase dramatically while fewer and fewer carriers even offer 240/241 coverage.”

In the testimony, the Council argued that some companies say they’ve experienced as much as a 500 percent increase in insurance costs in a single year.

Impacting New York Construction Workers

The Council urges the Department to reform section 240/241because, it argues, that it not only affects the construction industry, but also New Yorkers who have to pay for the inflated costs of construction projects. No other states have adopted a similar law.

The section, however, is designed to protect construction workers and families whose loved ones are killed in scaffolding and ladder accidents, allowing them to collect compensation for their losses without having to prove negligence.

The law supports workers who, by nature of the industry, are at an increased risk of being injured on the job. Because of the severity of scaffolding and ladder accidents, the injuries sustained are almost always severe and debilitating. Such injuries may include:

  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Leg and knee injuries
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Paralysis

In the worst cases, these accidents may result in death.

(Source: The Business Council of New York State, Inc.)

At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, we are aware of the severity of these injuries and are committed to helping injured construction workers get the compensation they are entitled to. We are very familiar with sections 240 and 241 and can help you and your family with your accident claim. To discuss your specific circumstances, contact Gacovino, Lake & Associates today.

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