If you’ve been injured working on a major project at a large commercial building, then you may understand that there are certain laws that can protect you and entitle you to compensation. What you may not know, though, is that the statutes’ protections go farther than that. They can apply to a large range of construction or repair-related tasks on commercial or residential properties, unless a legal exception applies.
In other words, after you’ve been hurt at work, you may have more legal options than you otherwise would have thought. Be sure to check with a knowledgeable New York City construction injury attorney about the legal avenues available to you.
S.S. was one of those workers, having accepted a job to remove gutters from a property in Queens. While he was removing those gutters, S.S. fell from a ladder and suffered significant injuries. As a result of the harm he suffered, S.S. sued the property’s owners for damages under Section 240(1) of the New York Labor Law, which protects workers when they’re injured in a fall due to inadequate fall protection.
The owners of the property, whom S.S. named as defendants in the case, were S.S.’s mother and aunt. S.S. also sued his cousin, who was the third resident of the home.
S.S. was not successful in his case, but his unfavorable outcome offers the potential of good news for other people who are hurt doing work on residential properties. S.S. lost because both halves of a two-part exception applied to his situation. That exception covers “owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the work.”
The home involved in S.S.’s case was a property with only one entrance. Each of the three occupants lived on three different floors, but each resident’s area was only accessible by the one front entrance and then by internal staircases. Based on that evidence, the home counted as a one-family dwelling.
It is important to note that, just because an owner establishes that the property was a one-family or two-family home, that, by itself, doesn’t automatically mean that your case as a worker is hopeless. The law also requires that the owners “do not direct or control the work.”
So, what does it mean for an owner to ‘direct’ or ‘control’ your work?
S.S. lost because the home was a one-family dwelling and because his mother simply made a general request for the removal of the gutters. If, for example, S.S.’s mother had asked him to remove the gutters from the home she shared with her sister and nephew, that she wanted the rear gutters removed first, the gutters from the sides of the home done second and the gutters from the front removed last, that she wanted the old gutters placed in the alley behind the home, that she wanted him to use the green ladder she kept in the garage and that she wanted the job finished by Friday, then that evidence (or proof of a similar nature) might be enough to establish that the mother was directing and/or controlling the work. If you have that, then the exception doesn’t apply and doesn’t force your case to be thrown out, even if the property was just your mother’s single-family home.
Many New York laws apply to a broad range of workers to ensure they are protected. Even if the accident that caused your injury didn’t happen at a stereotypical “construction job,” that doesn’t mean you can’t win your case based on construction injury laws. Talk to the knowledgeable New York City construction accident attorneys at Arcia & Associates to find out how we can help. Our team has many years taking on, and winning, a wide variety of construction injury cases and we’re ready to get to work for you.
Contact us at (718) 651-4363 today.