Learn the Issue

What is the "Scaffold Law?"

The Scaffold Law (NYS Labor Law sections 240/241) imposes "absolute liability" for elevation-related injuries on contractors and property owners engaged in construction, repair, or demolition work. Absolute liability means that the contributing fault of an injured worker, such as failure to use provided safety equipment or gross negligence, is virtually irrelevant in court. 


What are the impacts of the Scaffold Law?

Because a settlement is virtually guaranteed, this law is generates an astounding number of expensive lawsuits. In fact, more than half of the most expensive New York settlements in 2012 were a result of the Scaffold Law, and the number of lawsuits has increased by 500% since 1990, despite a decreasing rate of injuries. Because of this, the cost of insuring construction projects is as much as 10 times higher than other states. 

The tremendous costs of the Scaffold Law have an impact across New York: construction costs go up, fewer workers are hired (with some being laid off), consumers pay higher prices for goods and services, and the economy suffers. 


How should the Scaffold Law be fixed?

The current standard of "absolute liability" must be replaced with a standard of "comparative negligence." Under this standard, liability is apportioned by a jury, in proportion to actual fault. This common-sense reform would not prevent injured workers from bringing lawsuits for their injuries. It would simply give New York property owners, business owners, and contractors the chance to defend themselves in court when a worker's own negligence is a contributing factor in an accident.This is the way every other state and virtually every other area of our civil justice system functions. 

 


Learn more in our issue papers below:


                  

     Scaffold Law Quick Facts               Fact Checking Reform Opponents      Scaffold Law Reform Benefits Unions

 

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