How an Injured New York Painter Avoided the ‘Homeowner’s Exception’ and Got to Proceed with His Construction Injury Lawsuit

If you’re hurt in an accident while working a construction job, you may have options available to you to obtain compensation for your harm. New York law has statutes that generally permit injured workers to sue the property owners and the general contractors involved in the project where the accident occurred. There are certain exceptions to these legal rules that exist and can get in the way of your recovering compensation, such as the exception granted to owners of one- and two-family dwellings. The key, if you’ve been hurt, is knowing how to structure your case so that it does not get ensnared by legal exceptions. A skilled New York City construction injury attorney can help you to get your day in court and make your case.

As an example of a lawsuit involving the homeowner’s exception, consider the facts of this case. A.T. owned a house in Westchester County, but the 89-year-old woman lived permanently in a nursing home. The homeowner’s children hired M.D. in the summer of 2011 to paint the inside of the vacant house. A.T.’s son told the painter to use a ladder and to access the home through a window. In the process of attempting to enter the window, M.D.’s ladder slipped from beneath him and he fell, suffering substantial injuries. The homeowner died four months after the painter’s accident.

If you’re hurt in an accident like this, there are many things you’ll need to consider. First, does the work you were doing qualify? If you’re a painter like M.D., the answer generally is yes. The New York laws that generally protect construction workers and allow them to recover compensation apply to painters, among others. This means that painters can often bring a lawsuit under these statutes, which include Section 240(1) of the Labor Law (which covers you if you fall or if something falls on you) and Section 241(6) of the Labor Law (which covers you if you are hurt because someone failed to comply with New York State’s safety regulations.)

The “homeowner’s” exception to a worker’s right to seek compensation applies if the property upon which you were working was a one- or two-family dwelling and the person allegedly responsible for your harm was the property owner. In this case, the home was a single-family dwelling, so M.D. would automatically be unable to sue, right? Wrong. M.D. did not assert any claims against A.T., but rather against the children. Another wrinkle emerged in the case, though, when A.T.’s will revealed that the daughter was the executrix of A.T.’s estate. At first glance, this fact might also appear to doom M.D.’s case.

But M.D.’s case was not doomed. The trial court concluded, and the Appellate Division agreed, that the painter could go ahead and proceed to trial on both his Section 240(1) and Section 241(6) claims against A.T.’s son. The son had no ownership stake in the home and he was the one who had directed the painter to use the ladder and enter through the window. Those facts meant that the son quite possibly met the legal definition of an “agent,” and while you cannot recover compensation from the owner of a single or dual-family dwelling, you can proceed against an agent.

If you have suffered injuries at your construction job, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the New York City construction injury attorneys at Arcia & Associates. Our team has many years of experience helping injured workers. We will work diligently to obtain your best possible outcome.

Contact us at 718-424-2222 to find out how we can help you.

More Blog Posts:

Proof of a Lack of Fall Protection Allows an Injured Demolition Man to Win His New York Construction Injury Case, Blog de Abogado en la Ciudad de Nueva York, 9 de Julio de 2018

New York City Building Employee Wins Injury Case Due to Defective Ladder, Blog de Abogado en la Ciudad de Nueva York, 10 de Abril de 2018


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