Labor Law 13 : A Home

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Q: I am the laborer who fell off a short ladder while working on the porches of a two-family home.  I neglected to mention that there were many commingled tools at the work site, belonging to the company and the owner.  I would use whatever tools I needed.  The owner gave me permission to use the short ladder on the first occasion that I needed it.  Afterwards, I would just take it.

The short ladder was perfect for the work, but it did not have rubber at the bottom.  The ladder had slipped on occasions prior to the accident, but I had never discussed the absence of rubber feet with anyone.

A: Loaning the short ladder to you was not equivalent to directing or controlling the work and cannot defeat the homeowner’ exemption under sections 240(1) and 241(6) of the Labor Law.  But it gives you an angle under section 200.  That statute is merely a codification of the common-law duty to provide workers with a safe place to work, and liability is governed by negligence principles.

Here, your accident involved a ladder, provided to you by the owner and seemingly defective because of the absence of rubber feet.  Our courts have held that, when a property owner lends its own equipment to a worker which then causes injury, the legal standard that governs claims under Labor Law § 200 is whether the owner created the dangerous or defective condition or had actual or constructive notice thereof – whatever that means.

If the owner had seen people slip before but never warned you, then that is a plus factor for you.  The fact that you had already experienced this danger is a minus factor.  You appear to have a chance of surviving a summary judgment motion by the owner, but the odds of succeeding at trial seem considerably less.

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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