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New York Worker’s Proof Related to Home’s ‘Commercial Purpose’ Allows Him to Pursue Labor Law Case

As a worker in New York, the state’s Labor Law gives you certain rights when you’re hurt on the job. There are exemptions to this right to sue, though, if the person for whom you were working was a private homeowner. Even if you are hurt working for a homeowner, you may still be able to recover compensation. That exemption from Labor Law liability only applies if the homeowner uses the property for himself rather than for “commercial purposes.” In the case of one New York worker, he was allowed to pursue his case because, even though the person for whom he was working was the owner of the house, he had evidence purporting to show that the homeowner planned to rent the property out, which would qualify as a commercial purpose.

A man was working on the exterior fascia of a Sullivan County house for the homeowner when he was injured in a fall. According to the worker, the homeowner provided him with a ladder for the fascia project that was too short for the job. The homeowner allegedly held the short ladder while the worker reached for the fascia, but the worker eventually fell.

The worker launched a Labor Law case against the homeowner, alleging violations of Sections 200, 240(6) and 241. The homeowner in this case asked the trial judge to issue summary judgment in his favor, arguing that a statutory exemption blocked the worker from pursuing his action. The Legislature limited the availability of Labor Law cases, prohibiting workers from bringing actions against owners of one- and two-family residences “who contract for but do not direct or control the work.” The exemption isn’t available, though, if the homeowner uses 100% of the dwelling “for commercial purposes.”

There are a variety of scenarios that can trigger this exception to the exemption. If the homeowner is planning to rent out 100% of the dwelling, that’s a commercial purpose, and you, as an injured worker, can pursue your Labor Law case. Additionally, if a homeowner hires you to do work on his home that he’s preparing to resell, that’s also a commercial purpose, and you can pursue a claim for your injuries.

In this case, the homeowner had testified that he planned to use some or all of the dwelling as his residence. However, the worker testified that the homeowner expressed his intention not to live there but to offer both halves of the two-family residence to tenants.

Whenever a party asks for summary judgment, the law requires the judge to construe the evidence in the manner most favorable to the other side. The “other side” in this case was the injured worker, and the evidence in this case, when viewed most favorably toward him, raised the possibility that the homeowner was planning to rent 100% of the home. If that were proven true, the repairs were related to a commercial purpose, the exemption would not apply, and the worker would be entitled to go forward with his Labor Law claim. Based upon this evidence, the trial court was correct to deny summary judgment to the homeowner and allow this worker to go forward, the Appellate Division ruled in its April 2017 opinion.

If you’ve been hurt while working, you have certain rights under the law. Depending on the details of your situation, you may be able to pursue a claim under the Labor Law. The diligent Queens ladder accident attorneys at Newman, Anzalone & Newman have represented injured workers for many years as they pursue their claims for a fair recovery. 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 Appellate Division Upholds Ruling for Construction Worker in Madison Square Garden Accident Case, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, May 19, 2017

Undocumented Bridge Painter’s Use of an Alias Didn’t Disqualify Him from Pursuing New York Labor Law Claim, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, May 5, 2017

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