Walking the Plank

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Q: At a construction site, I was working in the area of an exterior parking lot.  The concrete subcontractor had graded the ground and reinforced it with rebar in preparation for pouring concrete.  I was walking across some worn wooden planks that were weak and sagged down.  They were lined up end-to-end, but not connected, and had been there for at least three weeks preceding my accident.  All of a sudden, one of them broke underneath me, entirely across.

The job superintendent and the site safety manager have denied that the general contractor placed the planks there, but they have admitted that the planks were thoroughly wet and rotten.  They have said that they saw nothing dangerous before the accident, even though they both conducted regular inspections of the whole site.  The site safety manager had inspected the area about an hour before I fell.

A: For you to succeed with a claim under section 241(6) of the Labor Law, your attorney will need to identify a violation of the Industrial Code.  True, the Industrial Code states that the lumber used in the construction of equipment or temporary structures shall be sound and not contain any defects which may impair the strength of such lumber for the purpose for which it is to be used.  However, the lumber here was not joined together: a court may well hold that nothing had been constructed from the planks so as to come within the ambit of the Code.

For you to succeed with a claim of common-law negligence, the defendants must have either created or had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition that caused your injuries.  A defendant has constructive notice of a defect when (as seems to be the case here) it is visible and apparent, and has existed for a sufficient length of time before the accident that it could have been discovered and corrected.

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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