I shot the photo above from my bathroom window in Geneva, New York. The video below shows the same scene but in vivid motion. Watch it!
Why did I shoot this video? Because I wanted to show my readers what a law-suit-waiting-to-happen looks like.
The employer of these roofers is violating New York’s Labor Law, specifically, Labor Law section 240. Also known as “the scaffold law”, section 240 requires all owners and contractors at construction sites, including roofing jobs, to protect construction workers (including roofers) from the “effects of gravity”, including the danger of falling from roofs, by having them tied up via lanyards and harnesses, and/or having nets, scaffolds, or other devices to protect them from falling.
Take another look at the video. No one is tied up! No nets! No scaffolds! No safety harnesses and lanyards! Observe especially that roofer who is wading through the debris as he slowly makes his way toward the far side of the pitched roof. Do you see how he almost stumbles a few times? One wrong step and down he goes, where he will suffer life-changing injuries.
Believe me, I know. I have represented many roofers and other construction workers who have taken that fall. And it’s not just a physical fall. It’s also metaphorical fall from the heights of health and well-being down to the low-lying hell of constant pain, disability, and poverty.
Now take a look at this photo:
This is how roofing is supposed to be done, in compliance with Labor Law section 240. Do you see the lanyard he is tied to? If he stumbles, his fall will be arrested by the lanyard. He will suffer at most only minor injuries.
I have traveled all over New York State and have seen many, many roofing jobs in progress. Very few roofing companies comply with Labor Law section 240. They don’t require their workers to use lanyards and harnesses. They don’t even offer them. They knowingly violate the Labor Law. Why? Because it’s faster and thus cheaper to get the job done without complying. It takes some time to set up the lanyards and tie the roofers up. Time is money. So they cut costs at the expense of safety.
That’s where I come in!
Yes, I’m a super lawyer!
When one of these workers falls and is seriously injured and then hires me, I sue the contractor and/or the owner of the site on behalf of the worker. My firm and I have sued many such cases. We can’t end our clients’ pain and suffering or their disabling condition (hey, we’re not magicians or miracle workers) but we can prevent their decline into poverty. How? We sue the responsible parties to fairly compensate our fallen clients.
Unfortunately, we can’t help all the victims of Labor Law section 240 violations. Some laws stand in our way. For one thing, we can’t sue an injured worker’s employer. The “the workers’ compensation bar” stands in our way. However, if the roofing company that employed our client was a subcontractor to a general contractor, we can sue the general contractor for failing to enforce the Labor Law. We can also, in most cases, sue the owner of the property.
Back to my video. My next door neighbor hired a roofing outfit to replace her roof. Is she liable if a worker falls from her roof? Generally, no. Labor Law section 240 provides immunity to an owner of a home who resides there. So if one of these workers were to fall, I couldn’t sue my neighbor, the owner of the home. (Of course I wouldn’t sue my neighbors anyway. I’m not that kind of neighbor!).
However, if the roofers in the video were working on a commercial building, I could sue the owner of the building for the Labor Law violations. Yes, the owners of the site are required to ensure that the contractors they employ are following the Labor Law, and if they don’t do so, I can sue them.
Don’t feel too sorry for the commercial owners; they’re always well insured. And almost always their contract with the roofing contractors contains an “indemnification clause” whereby if one of the workers sues the owner of the building, the contractor’s insurer must “defend and indemnify” the owner. So the owner is a defendant in name only. The real defendant is the contractor who should have but did not follow the Labor Law.
Roofers (and other construction workers), if you fall and were not required to wear fall-protection equipment, call a top New York construction accident lawyer. Yes, that’s me. But above all, try to avoid the fall . . .
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Syracuse NY Roofing Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.