The Falling Fence

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Q: At the time of my accident, I was employed as a carpenter on a project to renovate a residence.  Employees of the owner’s company had erected a plywood fence around the construction site.  A portion of this fence fell over and hit me on the head.  On the date of my accident, no work was being performed.  My employer and I were there just to retrieve some tools.

A: These facts seem to point to a lawsuit alleging common-law negligence and one or more violations of the Labor Law.

In facts like these, Labor Law § 240 can sometimes apply.  Because the owner’s employees had erected the fence, your attorney might want to argue that the owner was obliged to furnish safety devices there, to give proper protection to the workers.  However, you would need to show that, at the time the fence fell, it was being hoisted or secured, or otherwise required securing.  Labor Law § 240 does not automatically apply simply because an object fell and injured you.  From what you say, the plywood fence was not being hoisted, and it did not fall because of the absence or inadequacy of a safety device.

On the other hand, Labor Law § 200 is very likely to apply.  Section 200 is a codification of the common-law duty placed upon owners and contractors to provide employees with a safe place to work.  Apparently, you were injured at a work site as a result of a dangerous premises condition.  The property owner’s liability under Labor Law § 200 and for common-law negligence rests upon whether the property owner created the condition, or had actual or constructive notice of it and a reasonable amount of time within which to correct the condition.  Given that the owner’s employees had created the fence, your attorney appears to have a strong basis for arguing that these conditions exist.

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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