Out From Under Me

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Q: We were working to repair the roof of a building.  On an unsecured A-frame ladder, I was lifting materials from one level of the roof to another.  Then a foot of the ladder twisted out from under me.  I was not holding onto the ladder: I was carrying materials in one hand and had my other hand on a wall.

The president of the company that leased the building had hired me to perform the work, and he would tell my boss how he wanted it done.

A: You appear to have a strong claim under the Labor Law: the ladder was unsecured, and it twisted out from under you for no apparent reason, causing you to fall.  The section applies to owners, contractors and their agents.  A party is deemed to be an agent of an owner or contractor under the Labor Law when it has the ability to control the activity which brought about the injury.  The key question is whether the lessee had the right to insist that proper safety practices be followed, which appears to have been the case.

The law does not require the actual exercise of control, merely the authority to control.  Our courts have ruled that, to interpret the Labor Law as demanding actual exercise would encourage defendants purposefully to absent themselves from work sites to provide insulation from liability – which is not desirable.

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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