The Helpful Homeowner

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Q: I am a handyman, skilled in installing siding.  A homeowner had recruited me to assist the general contractor and instructed me to follow his directions.  I was supposed to use a makeshift scaffolding-ladder contraption.  He had already erected it, with components supplied in part by the owner.  All in all, for my job, she had supplied much of the materials and essential equipment.

I understand that, when the owner first saw the scaffolding, she objected that it looked unsafe.  The owner then offered to rent scaffolding that was more suitable, but the general contractor assured her that the contraption was safe.  As I worked, it collapsed.

A: In a scaffolding case, Labor Law § 240 provides for liability against all contractors and owners and their agents, except owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the work.

This exception does not seem to apply here, because it appears that this owner directed and controlled the work.  She provided the equipment.  She was involved.  Implicitly, the owner acknowledged her responsibility for worker safety.

The general contractor, too, is on the hook.  Under the Labor Law, the contractor is deemed authorized to exercise direction or control over you and the injury-producing work, irrespective of whether he actually did so.  He should be sued, as well.

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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