In addition to the duty of care owed to customers and guests, building owners in New York have responsibilities to workers. Under the state’s labor law, owners of buildings and contractors must provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to persons employed on construction work at the site. This duty is extended to workers who are employed or lawfully frequenting areas where construction, excavation or demolition work is taking place. Building owners and contractors cannot delegate this duty.
This law requires owners and contractors to comply with specific construction rules or regulations that were issued by the state’s Department of Labor. Compliance only with general safety standards can still impose premises liability upon the building’s owner.
These defendants may also be held liable if work sites or other areas where workers pass are not kept in order. They must keep floors, platforms and similar areas free from dirt, debris, scattered tools, sharp projections and other materials that are not part of the work being performed.
For example, a New York appellate court upheld a verdict for serious injuries suffered by a construction worker who was impaled by an uncapped piece of vertical rebar during construction at a wastewater treatment plant owned by New York City. The uncapped rebar was not part of the work being performed and there was insufficient evidence that any worker negligence contributed to his injuries.
This accident necessitated multiple hospitalizations and surgical procedures. Plaintiff’s experts testified that his physical condition would continue to deteriorate, additional surgery is needed and that he would require ongoing lifetime treatment. The court upheld a $2 million verdict for past pain and suffering and another $3 million for future pain and suffering.
Persons who suffer losses from owner and landlord negligence may have the right to file a lawsuit. Accident victims should seek prompt assistance to help assure that filing deadlines are met and that their rights are protected.
Source: Lopez v. New York City of Department of Environmental Resources, et al., 2014 NY Slip Op 08963 (2d Dept. 2014)