A New York Construction Accident Lawyer Who Represents Injured Workers Tracking Developments in Construction Accident Law.

Most construction accident cases are brought by, you guessed it, construction workers. But a recent New York Supreme Court decision, Matz v. Laboratory Institute of Mechandising, 105124/07 (April 13, 2010) has applied the New York Labor Law to an architect who was injured when a beam fell on her at a construction site.

The New York Labor Law, which provides enhanced legal protection for construction workers so that they can file lawsuits for personal injuries against the owners and general contractors of construction sites, even if the entities were not actively negligent, serves the purpose of ensuring from the “top down,” so to speak, that such sites are safe for workers. Otherwise, if not potentially on the hook in construction accident lawsuits, owners and general contractors would have little incentive to make sure that work sites conform with safety standards.

The defendant claimed that the architect was not in the protected class intended to be covered by Labor Law 240(1) (the “scaffold law”). But the Court rejected this argument on the grounds that she was since “her duties were integral to the progress of an ongoing construction project.” (quotations omitted). In doing so, the Court differentiated the architect’s work from other cases where the injured person fell outside of the protections of 240(1), such as where the plaintiff’s work focusing stage lights prior to a performance came well after the construction of the stage itself.

This decision was rightly decided. Whenever possible, insurance defense lawyers try to twist the Labor Law to their benefit in order to win dismissals. But the Labor Law is quite obviously intended to protect all persons involved in construction work, not just construction workers. If a construction worker had been struck by the beam, too, it would be illogical that the worker would have a Labor Law claim but the architect would not.

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