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Appellate Division Allows New York Construction Worker to Proceed with Case Arising from an Improperly Adjusted Scaffold

Your construction accident case may involve many subtle elements and small details, both factual ones and legal ones. The high importance of very small details in some cases is but one reason among many why experienced New York construction injury attorneys can offer invaluable assistance to you. One recent case showed an example of this, when a worker succeeded in his appeal by persuading the Appellate Division that delays in providing the worker with a properly adjusted scaffold amounted to failing to make proper safety equipment “readily available” to the worker, as required by the law.

The centerpiece of the case was the repair and maintenance of a scaffold used by a construction worker named David. David was employed by a company subcontracted to complete work on a project in upstate New York. On the day of his accident, he was assigned a task that required the use of a scaffold. The scaffold provided to David, however, had several problems. It was missing planks, and it was too low to allow him to perform his tasks. Since another subcontractor owned the scaffold, and only employees of that company could adjust or modify the scaffold, David was at an impasse with his work.

Several hours later, David was informed that the scaffold was ready. When he returned to the scaffold, though, it was still too short. Allegedly, two supervisors told David to wait for another adjustment, but a third supervisor firmly told the worker to do whatever he needed to do to get the work done. David climbed the scaffold, but, while doing his task, he stepped on a midrail and began to fall.

The worker sued for his injuries. His lawsuit alleged that he failed to receive proper protection from “gravity-related” risks, which meant a violation of Section 240(1) of the Labor Law.

The defendants in this case, as many defendants in construction accident cases do, argued to the court that they were not liable because the plaintiff was 100% to blame for his injuries. They argued that David “had adequate safety devices available; that he knew both that they were available and that he was expected to use them; that he chose for no good reason not to do so.” The crux of their argument was that David should not have attempted to use the scaffold once he discovered that it was not properly adjusted for his job.

While the trial court agreed with this defense argument, the Appellate Division did not and revived the worker’s case. The facts of the case, as alleged by the plaintiff, demonstrated that the scaffold needed another adjustment, and the process of completing that adjustment and placing the scaffold back into service could take several hours. Given the amount of time it would have taken to make the scaffold ready, the worker had an arguable case that proper safety equipment was not made “readily available” for his use, as required by the statute. Additionally, the worker’s assertion that one supervisor told him to proceed without the additional adjustment potentially rebutted the defense’s claim that the worker acted “with no good reason.”

As a construction worker, you may find yourself facing difficult positions on the job. You may be forced to deal with equipment owned by other entities that are outside your control. You may be forced to deal with supervisors demanding that you proceed with your work, even when you lack proper equipment. Then, if you’re injured on the job, the defense may try to depict you as the person solely at fault for everything. This is just one example of why you need knowledgeable New York injury counsel fighting for you. The diligent Queens scaffolding accident attorneys at Newman, Anzalone & Newman have been helping people injured in construction accidents for many years, and we are ready to talk to you about your case. To schedule a free consultation with one of our qualified attorneys, contact us toll-free at 718-896-2700 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

New York Construction Worker Wins Summary Judgment for Injuries Suffered as a Result of Falling Transformer, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, Aug. 18, 2017

Advancing a New York Construction Injury Case Even if the Worker Potentially Made Some Mistakes, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, Aug. 3, 2017

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