The Importance of the Legal Rule of ‘Absolute Liability’ to Your New York Construction Injury Case

New York law has several provisions in it designed to provide strong protection to construction workers who are hurt on the job. One of these is a legal concept called absolute liability. This rule is important because it greatly restricts the way that a defendant can use evidence of your behavior to try to avoid liability. To get the fullest benefit of this and other legal concepts that can potentially help you, be sure to retain skilled New York construction accident counsel to represent you.

One recent case in which this concept of “absolute liability” was a factor was the lawsuit of Garry. Garry’s job consisted of spraying “shotcrete” (gunite or sprayed concrete). To do that, Garry had to climb a straight metal ladder that went 8 feet high. At one point, while climbing the ladder, Garry felt it shift, and he jumped off. He injured his foot when he landed.

Garry sued. In his lawsuit, he argued that the ladder qualified under New York law as a “safety device” and that his fall from it was proof that he had received an inadequate safety device, which was a violation of New York law (Section 240(1) of the Labor Law).

When you seek to pursue compensation for your construction injury, the entity (or entities) you sue may have various means to try to stop your lawsuit. One way in which an entity whom you’ve sued in a construction injury case might prevail is if it proved to the court that you were the “sole proximate cause” of your construction injuries. In Garry’s case, the city asserted that Garry jumped off the ladder, which meant that it was arguing that the cause of the worker’s injuries was the worker himself, rather than the city’s failure to provide adequate safety devices.

The court ruled in favor of Garry and decided that he was entitled to summary judgment. This meant that the city was ruled to be to blame without requiring a full trial. Garry could simply proceed to trial on the issue of the extent of his damages.

The ruling made it clear that, under the facts of this case, whether the worker jumped was irrelevant to deciding fault for this accident. The evidence demonstrated that the ladder shifted first, and then the worker jumped, which he did to avoid getting entangled.

Another problem with the city’s argument was that its proof essentially amounted to evidence of comparative negligence. Section 240(1) of the Labor Law, however, does not recognize comparative negligence. In many cases, proof of a plaintiff’s negligence can be used to offset or reduce a defendant’s liability in an injury case. Construction injury cases under Section 240(1) don’t work that way. Once the worker has demonstrated a violation of the law in the form of an inadequate safety device, the worker’s subsequent conduct is irrelevant. Garry had proof of a defective ladder. Under the rule of absolute liability, that was all that mattered for him to succeed in his case.

If you have been hurt at your construction job, reach out to the skilled New York City construction injury attorneys at Arcia & Associates right away. Our team has many years of experience providing our clients with the effective and thoughtful representation their cases need.

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

More Blog Posts:

You Can Win Your New York Construction Accident Lawsuit Even if Your Immigration Status is Undocumented, Blog de Abogado en la Ciudad de Nueva York, 13 de Abril 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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