The construction trade has countless possible workplace hazards. There are dangerous tools and heavy pieces of equipment that could hurt a person. Electricity could easily lead to injury or death. Objects falling from higher up on the construction site could hurt someone, as could a collapsing wall in a trench.
However, one of the leading causes of construction injuries and deaths is also the most basic workplace safety concern. Falls from a significant elevation are a major concern for construction workers. Even working on the second story of a building could lead to a fall that produces debilitating injuries or causes death.
What compensation rights do construction workers have if they fall on the job in New York?
New York has a state law that establishes strict liability
Even before there were Federal agencies trying to ensure workplace safety, New York had laws in place to protect construction workers. Since 1885, the Scaffold Law has established strict liability for building owners and employers if a construction worker gets hurt or dies while building or repairing a structure.
Employers are able to limit their liability for worker falls through careful compliance with safety regulations and adequate workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Often, employers only provide the safety equipment required by law, which might mean workers have more risk than they should.
If you got hurt in a fall while working in New York as an employee, you will likely be able to request workers’ compensation. In cases where you can show that your employer was negligent or if they failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance, then you may have grounds for a claim against the business.
What if the building owner or manager hired you?
If you are an independent contractor or other self-employed construction professional working in New York, you won’t have an employer who is ultimately responsible for protecting you from falls.
The building’s owner then assumes that responsibility when they hire you. You may be able to bring a civil claim even if you are not eligible for a workers’ compensation insurance claim after a New York construction-related fall.
Understanding the systems that offer you compensation after a fall on the job can help you limit the lasting effects of that workplace incident.