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I Got Hurt at My Construction Job Using an Improvised Device That I Created. Can I Still Recover Compensation?
January 16, 2019 at 12:00 AM
by Newman, Anzalone & Newman, LLP
I Got Hurt at My Construction Job Using an Improvised Device That I Created. Can I Still Recover Compensation?

As a construction worker, you are often called upon to perform a variety of tasks where reaching the area upon which you must work is complicated. Traditional devices like lifts or scaffolds may not fit in the space available. When that happens, you may be forced to “get creative.” However, what happens when the improvised device you set up fails, you fall and suffer injuries? Does the fact that you put together your own improvised device necessarily mean that you are out of luck when it comes to obtaining compensation? As one recent case from upstate shows, the answer is “no!” Never just give up; instead, always consult a knowledgeable New York City construction injury attorney about your situation.

In the case referenced above, D.C. was a construction worker whom D.D. hired to install siding on a rental property that D.D. owned. The siding that the property owner wanted installed was to go above a staircase that ran along the side of the building. The owner agreed to rent a lift that D.C. could use for the job, but lifts were too big to fit in the area where D.C. would be working. There was also a “ladder jack” device, but it was in use elsewhere and, in addition, it (like the lift) wouldn’t have fit in the tight space. The owner did not provide D.C. with a conventional scaffold.

Faced with this difficulty, the worker created his own device. D.C. set up his A-frame ladder and then took a scaffolding plank and ran that plank from a rung of the ladder over to the top of the staircase. Neither the ladder nor the plank was anchored to anything. As a result, when D.C. began pushing siding into place, the improvised device slid out from beneath the worker and he fell, breaking his ankle.

D.C. filed a lawsuit against the owner. As part of that case, he also asked the court to award him summary judgment, which (if granted) would mean that the information already before the court was enough to find the owner liable, without even having to have a trial on liability. This would mean that D.C. would only have to go to trial to prove exactly how much damages he should receive.

The worker won his request for summary judgment. The fact that he had improvised a device on his own, with none of the parts anchored, was not an impediment to his legal success. As a property owner, D.D. was required by law to give all his construction workers “proper protection” to keep them safe from elevation-related risks of harm.

The fact that a worker, faced with a difficult situation, might fashion his own improvised device, perhaps even an ill-advised one, does not eliminate or reduce the owner’s legal duty to provide proper safety protection. This is both good policy and good sense, if one thinks about it, because, if the owner had provided property safety equipment from the start, an improvised device would have never been needed at all.

There are often many things you need in order to pursue your construction injury case to a successful result. One of the first, and most important, is capable counsel. The skilled Queens construction injury attorneys at Newman, Anzalone & Newman are equipped and ready to help. We have been aiding construction workers hurt on the job, and other injured people, for four decades. To put us to work for you, schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified attorneys. Contact us toll-free at 877-754-3099 or through our website.