Over the Top

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Q: For a building under construction, the builder had no employees, and everybody was an independent contractor.  I was leaning over the top of my A-Frame ladder to receive a screw.  It was being handed to me by another contractor.  Either the ladder collapsed when the other contractor improperly stepped on the support rungs on its back, or the ladder exploded when I leaned over its top.  In any event, the ladder broke into pieces, causing me to fall to the ground.

A: Pursuant to Labor Law § 240(1), the builder was required to provide scaffolding, ladders and the like affording proper protection against an elevation-related hazard, and the builder’s failure to do so results in liability for any injuries that are proximately caused.

Your lawyer is likely to argue that, whatever the exact cause of the ladder’s collapse, the fact that it failed and you fell to the ground demonstrates that it did not give proper protection.  Even if the other contractor improperly stepped on the back, that act is not of such an extraordinary nature or so attenuated from the statutory violation as to constitute a superseding cause sufficient to relieve the builder of liability.

Quite possibly, you will also proceed under Labor Law § 241(6), invoking a section of the Industrial Code which requires that every ladder be capable of sustaining at least four times the maximum load intended to be placed thereon and be maintained in good condition.

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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