Just Do It

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Q: On a construction site, I was carrying a 30-foot long, 200-pound steel rafter beam on my shoulders.  As I bent to lower the rafter, I heard my knee pop, fell to the ground and injured my knee.  At the time of the accident, I was employed by a subcontractor to the GC.

The GC’s supervisors were present at the construction site every day supervising the work.  They gave me my daily work assignments.  One of them had assigned me to the task of moving the rafters, unassisted, and had instructed me to retrieve specific equipment in furtherance of the task.  When I complained to the supervisor about the manner in which the work was to be performed, he answered, “Just do it.”

A: The GC is likely to argue that only your employer, not its supervisors, had authority to direct the manner in which you performed your work.  In the alternative, to the extent that the GC had control over your work, it may contend that you were its ‘special employee’ – so that the Workers’ Compensation Law immunizes the GC against your lawsuit.  These are typical, predictable defenses – not likely to phase your attorney.

Your attorney is likely to contend that it is not acceptable to have only one person perform the task of carrying a 30-foot long, 200-pound steel rafter beam, noting that the purpose of the Labor Law is to protect workers by placing ultimate responsibility for safety practices at building construction jobs where such responsibility actually belongs, on parties such as the owner, general contractor and subcontractors – instead of on workers, who are scarcely in a position to protect themselves from accident.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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