If you are working on a large building construction project and you suffer injuries on the job, it may be fairly clear that yours is a circumstance covered by New York’s construction injury statutes. However, just because your work or your injury doesn’t represent a “stereotypical” instance of a construction injury, that doesn’t mean that those laws don’t apply and that you can’t use them to get the compensation you need. There may be more options available to you under the New York statutes than you might think. To get a clear picture of all the legal avenues you possibly have, be sure you have an experienced New York City construction attorney on your side.
As an example, there’s the case of O.C., an environmental technician working at an asbestos abatement project. O.C.’s specific tasks involved monitoring asbestos removal at a school to ensure proper removal and disposal, and to take air samples from air-sampling pumps around the site. One of the pumps was located on the second floor of the school. Accessing it was quite a chore, requiring O.C. to use a scaffold and to access that scaffold by standing on a milk crate beneath a window and climbing through that window to get to the scaffold.
As one might expect, such an improvised system eventually led to injury, according to O.C.’s lawsuit. The technician alleged that, on the return trip, he climbed back through the window and again stepped on the milk crate. This time, however, he fell, suffering injuries.
O.C.’s job was a type of inspection work. If you’re engaged in tasks like this, you may find yourself facing an argument from the parties you’re suing in which they say that your duties do not qualify you to receive compensation under Section 240(1) of the Labor Law. New York law says that determining whether inspection work does or does not fall within the coverage of the statute is something that judges must do on a case-by-case basis and that the most important thing that the courts must look at is “the content of the work.”
When your work as an inspector is covered by the statutes
Specifically, New York law says that, if inspection work is “essential, ongoing, and more than mere observation,” then that inspection worker is covered by the statute and can seek compensation. So, in other words, you need the right kind of evidence to give to the court that will demonstrate that your work was essential, was ongoing and was something more than just observation. O.C. had proof that his work met all of the law’s criteria, so his case cleared this hurdle.
In a case like O.C.’s, another essential hurdle to clear is defeating the defense’s motion for summary judgment. If you, as an injured worker, lose at this phase, then that means that the defendants are declared not liable, and that you recover nothing, with all of this happening without a trial. You need proof that there is valid dispute around an issue (or issues) of fact and that the disputed facts are things that are relevant to deciding whether or not you are entitled to compensation under the law. In other words, it is involves taking the right steps to collect the evidence you need, then knowing how to present that proof to the court to persuade the judge that your case should proceed to trial.
For O.C., the Appellate Division concluded that he should have a trial. The appeals court pointed out that the technician had proof that “the defendant provided the milk crate, that it was a common practice among its employees to obtain access to the scaffold by using the milk crate, and that the plaintiff was not instructed to obtain access to the scaffold by another method, such as by using the scaffold’s stairs.” These were all relevant factual disputes, so O.C. was entitled to have his day in court.
Succeeding in your construction injury case is like a race, complete with many hurdles you must overcome if you are to achieve a positive result. To help you get to where you need to be, reach out to the New York City construction injury attorneys at Arcia & Associates, where we have many years of experience helping injured workers seek the results they deserve.
Contact us at (718) 651-4363 to find out how we can help you.
More Blog Posts:
The Many Options that May Exist If You’ve Been Hurt at Work in New York, Blog de Abogado en la Ciudad de Nueva York, 23 de Enero de 2019
What New York State Safety Regulations Can I Use as the Basis for Pursuing a Construction Injury Lawsuit?, Blog de Abogado en la Ciudad de Nueva York, 1 de Octubre de 2018