Defendant May Be Absolutely Liable, But Plaintiff Must Still Prove Case
When a construction worker is injured due to a violation of New York Labor Law by the contractor or property owner, the owner or contractor may be held strictly liable for the damages caused. This notion of strict liability or absolute liability relieves the plaintiff of having to prove some elements of the case. However, the plaintiff still bears the burden of proving other elements, and even where an owner is held strictly liable, many legal and factual issues must still be properly and persuasively prepared and presented before the plaintiff will be allowed to recover compensation for his or her injuries.
In the case of Domingos Mouta v. Essex Market Development LLC, the plaintiff construction worker was injured in a fall when the platform he was working on collapsed. Elevation-related accidents are covered by the New York Labor Law section 240 (1), which requires the contractor or owner to provide protection from falls such as nets, harnesses, cables, etc. The court found that the defendants’ failure to provide adequate protection was the proximate cause of the worker’s injuries, making them absolutely liable to the plaintiff.
When a labor law statute is violated, the violator may be held absolutely liable. This means that the plaintiff does not have to prove that the owner or contractor had notice of the defect or that it exercised supervisory control of the structure. However, important legal and factual elements still must be proven. For instance, the plaintiff may have to show that the failure of the structure was a foreseeable risk that would require protective devices. Also, the plaintiff must show that the violation of the statute was the proximate cause of the worker’s injuries. Proximate cause is a legal term which basically means that no other causes intervened or superseded the defendant’s negligence.
Obtaining a ruling of absolute liability against the defendant is a huge step toward achieving a favorable judgment or settlement. However, there are still many procedural and legal hurdles to overcome, and the process can be quite complex. New York personal injury attorney Leandros Vrionedes handles construction accident claims in New York City and surrounding areas. If you have been injured in a ladder fall, scaffold collapse, or other construction site accident, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for a free consultation.