Scaffold Law Reform News
New York Needs to Reform Scaffold Law
- Published on 22 September 2014
In today's Poughkeepsie Journal, LRANY Executive Director Tom Stebbins highlight how New York will never truly be "open for business" until the Scaffold Law is reformed.
No other state has an absolute liability standard like the Scaffold Law — and for good reason. In 2012, 16 of the 30 largest lawsuit settlements in New York were Scaffold Law related. So in the most litigious state in the most litigious country in the world, more than half of our largest lawsuits are due to one law that only exists here. A judge on the highest court in the state recently noted that the law is "the most frequent source of litigation" in New York courts. It is no wonder the primary champion for the Scaffold Law is the New York State Trial Lawyers.
The cost of this law is astronomical. A recent study by researchers at the Rockefeller Center and Cornell University found that the Scaffold Law costs private businesses $1.5 billion and taxpayers $785 million annually. The School Construction Authority estimates the law will cost them $400 million over the next three years — enough to build eight to 10 new schools with hundreds of new classrooms. The New Tappan Zee Bridge is estimated to be as much as $400 million more expensive because of the Scaffold Law.
Here's why New Yorkers are Fired Up Over Scaffolding Liability
- Published on 17 September 2014
Today in Property Casualty 360*. Joseph Jaafari highlights the ongoing battle over the Scaffold Law.
Insurance companies and construction businesses are in open war with trial lawyers and labor unions over New York’s 129-year-old “Scaffold Law,” which institutes absolute liability on contractors if an employee is injured or killed on the job.
The law, put in place in 1885, was drafted to protect construction workers in high-elevation situations (at the time the tallest skyscraper in New York City was a 281-foot spire at Wall Street’s Trinity Church), and made contractors liable in gravity-related accidents, such as falling from a platform.
Over the past few decades, the law has seen a number of reforms by courts who have included falling objects and required safety implementations, but it’s also put into place a number of safeguards for construction companies that had feared employees could get a pass by filing a lawsuit and reaping millions, such as requiring workers to prove that an accident was safety-related.