On October 30, 2015, at approximately 10:38AM, the building under construction at 25 West 38th Street, New York, New York collapsed, resulting in the death of a laborer. There were about 19 workers inside the building that was in the process of being demolished in order to start construction on a luxury hotel at the site. The injured laborer and the body of the killed worked remained trapped underneath the partially collapsed building while emergency workers tried to reach them. The two top floors collapsed and the workers were trapped inside. Reports indicate the support wall collapsed falling directly onto the workers. Their efforts were hampered as the construction site was not stable and needed to be shored up.
Labor Law § 240(1), a New York State statute, imposes upon owners and general contractors a non-delegable duty to provide proper and adequate safety devices to afford protection to construction workers working on a building or structure subject to elevation-related hazards. No matter how stringent the safety standards are in New York regarding construction, all construction laborers are at risk every single day while on the job.
Any breach of the statute will impose absolute liability upon the owner and general contractor at the construction site. Moreover, negligence of the injured construction worker is of no consequence against a Labor Law §240(1) claim. This statute, along with Labor Law §241(6) and §200 (codification of common law standards) allows an injured construction worker to recover monetary damages for injuries suffered in a construction site accident.