If you ask the average law student what negligence means, you will get a fairly simple answer: the failure to do or not to do what a reasonable person would do in the same or similar circumstances. If you ask a practicing personal injury attorney what negligence means, you will probably get a question instead of an answer.
Every year, it seems, lawmakers in Albany try to get New York's "Scaffold Law" off the books. Supporters of the law say its strict liability rule has kept property owners and the construction industry in line: The threat of being held responsible for a worker's on-the-job injuries has been a powerful incentive for the industry not to take shortcuts, not to cut corners where safety is concerned.
We are continuing our discussion of a recent study of New York's "Scaffold Law," the state law that holds property owners and contractors strictly liable for injuries and fatal accidents at construction sites. We are the only state to have such a law, as most other states take care of workplace injuries through workers' compensation insurance.
Lawmakers in Albany are once again hearing from the construction industry about New York's Labor Law 240, the state's notorious "Scaffold Law." A new study suggests that, rather than reducing the number of construction site accidents, the law is responsible for the number of accidents being as high as it is. The study argues as well that the law costs the city $785 million every year for insurance and litigation -- $785 million that could be put to better use.
Whenever building codes change, property owners might need to spend thousands of dollars to bring their properties up to code. The most recent changes in New York stem from the damage done by Hurricane Sandy. These changes would require many property owners to add faucets in common areas, and hospitals and care facilities would need to add hookups for emergency generators.
We are finishing up our discussion of a premises liability lawsuit from Western New York. In our last few posts, we have discussed the duty a business owes to different types of visitors. In this case, the restaurant, Denny's, owed the plaintiff, an invitee, a duty of reasonable care.
The tongue-twister "unique New York" could easily have been coined by someone in the construction industry. The state is the last in the union to allow construction workers injured on the job to sue property owners and contractors directly. Other states handle these complaints through workers' compensation, but not New York. New York has the Scaffold Law, enacted in 1885 and still going strong.