There are some New York City construction accident claims in which the employer’s breach of care is fairly obvious.
Perhaps a company failed to properly secure the scaffolding or didn’t provide workers handling hazardous chemicals with proper respiratory filters.
But not every case is going to be this straightforward.
While some workers may be entitled to workers’ compensation for any on-the-job injury, there may also be those able to pursue third-party injury claims against general contractors or building owners whose negligence results in injury.
Such was the case in Fabrizi v. 1095 Ave. of the Ams., LLC, recently reviewed by the New York Court of Appeals.
Court records indicate that the accident happened while the plaintiff was working as an electrician for an electrical company, which had been hired by a construction firm to do the wiring on a new office building.
While the plaintiff was on the job, he was injured when an 80-pound conduit pipe fell on top of his hand.
The piping was being run through the building’s floors and was for the purpose of allowing telecommunication wires to be accessed by each floor.
On the day of the incident, the electrician was working to relocate a pencil box that was situated between two pieces of conduit piping, one which ran vertically and the other horizontally. The pencil box had been secured, but in order to do the job, the electrician had to drill holes in the piping, just underneath the pencil box and then remove it. This left the piping dangling near the ceiling.
As he continued to work below, the piping fell and struck him on the hand.
The plaintiff then filed a personal injury lawsuit, alleging that the building owner and construction company had violated New York Labor Law § 240 (1). This portion of the law requires all contractors and their agents to furnish, erect or cause to be furnished or erected the necessary hoists, scaffolding, ladders, swings, hangers, ropes, irons, braces and any other devices necessary to ensure that workers can safely conduct the work.
Not specifically listed: set-screw coupling.
However, the worker maintained that this device would fall into this category of equipment necessary for him to safely complete his work. It was not provided by the construction company or the owner of the building.
The plaintiff requested a summary judgment on his claim, but it was denied by the lower court. In order to prevail on a falling object hazard, the court indicated that an injured worker has to show that at the time of the incident, the object was either being hoisted or secured or that it required being secured during the undertaking of the job. The statute does not apply simply because an object fell and injured a worker. The plaintiff has to show that the object fell either because the safety device used was inadequate or because the proper safety devices weren’t offered.
The plaintiff in this case didn’t meet that burden, according to the court.
That decision was later upheld upon appeal.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
Fabrizi v. 1095 Ave. of the Ams., LLC, Feb. 20, 2014, New York Court of Appeals
More Blog Entries:
Third-Party Liability in New York Work Injuries, Feb. 24, 2014, New York City Construction Accident Lawyer Blog