News reports say a man working on a cell phone tower near Marcy, New York, suffered serious injuries today after falling more than 80 feet. He is reported to have suffered multiple broken bones and was taken to Utica's St. Elizabeth's Medical Center.
Falls from a height like that can cripple, maim or kill. We had a similar case (fall from a cell tower) a few years ago, which we brought to a successful conclusion. To win it, we used a special law that helps workers who fall from rooftops, scaffolds and towers. It's called Labor Law 240, or "the scaffold law". It allows a fallen worker, under certain circumstances, to sue anyone with an ownership interest in the tower or the land the tower is on, including leaseholders, for compensation above and beyond what the worker will get in workers' compensation from his employer.
The key to winning this kind of case is to show that the worker was on the tower to "repair" something or to inspect something that was broken or malfunctioning. If his task involved "repair" work, or inspection work in contemplation of repair work, he is generally protected by Labor Law 240. But if he was performing mere "routine maintenance" of the tower, then he cannot prevail under Labor Law 240. He will generally be stuck with just his workers' compensation benefits, which (as anyone who has been on comp knows) generally isn't enough to pay the bills. It covers at most only about 2/3 of lost wages.
Under New York Labor Law 240, anyone with an ownership interest in the tower or land the tower was on can be held strictly liable for the workers' injury, even if the fall was largely the workers' own fault. The statute is designed to give the maximum amount of protection to construction workers and others who must risk their lives by working from heights.
Here are some of my other blog posts about Labor Law 240:
Can I Be Sued If Someone I Hire To Remove Snow And Ice From My Roof Or Fix My Leaky Roof Falls? Central And Syracuse NY Personal Injury Lawyer Explains.
Can Spiderman Bring A New York Personal Injury Lawsuit For His Injuries?
Syracuse Fall-Off-Scaffold With Back Injury Case Settles For $1,000,000.
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