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I Was Struck in the Head on the Job When Materials were Dropped from the Level Above. Can I Sue for Damages?

Working beneath cranes, scaffolds and other areas where overhead work is being performed puts workers at risk for injuries from falling tools and materials. When these objects strike a worker in the head, traumatic brain injury, fractures, other injuries and even death can result.

Approximately 10 percent of construction industry deaths are the result of “struck by” accidents such as those that involve objects falling from a higher level.

New York workers’ compensation may cover your medical, rehabilitation and lost-wage costs, but the workers’ compensation system usually forbids you from suing your employer for other losses. However, you may be able sue a third party under New York Labor Laws and seek additional compensation for your head injury caused by a falling object at a construction site.

Falling Objects and New York Labor Laws

Contractors, owners and others may bear responsibility for construction workers’ injuries under Sections 200, 240(1) and 241(6) of the New York Labor Law. Section 200 codifies a common law obligation to use reasonable care and provide a safe workplace. Sections 240(1) and 241(6) offer explicit protections for workers injured by falling materials or objects.

A violation of the New York State Industrial Code Rules could give rise to a lawsuit under Labor Law Section 241(6). According to Section 23-1.7(1) of the New York Industrial Code, “Every place where persons are required to work or pass that is normally exposed to falling material or objects shall be provided with suitable overhead protection.” This protection should consist of plywood or similar materials capable of supporting 100 pounds per square inch and be laid over planks.

Unsuitable overhead protection that results in worker injury could create property owner or contractor liability, but the worker’s own fault (comparative negligence) could reduce the amount of damages available through a lawsuit.

Even stronger protection is provided under Labor Law Section 240, commonly known as the “scaffold law.” In order for the scaffold law to apply to a falling object accident, the object usually must have fallen because of inadequate hoisting or lack of adequate safety devices.

The liability imposed on property owners and contractors under the scaffold law is absolute—meaning that a worker’s comparative negligence (fault) is not a factor.

Discuss Your Case for Free With an Attorney in New York City

A successful lawsuit under New York Labor Law can provide an injured worker with money on top of any workers’ compensation benefits. This additional compensation may prove essential for a traumatic brain injury, which causes long-lasting symptoms in many patients and can cost hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of dollars to treat.

Protect yourself against the high costs of a head injury by discussing your legal rights with a construction accident attorney at David Resnick & Associates, P.C. Call us now or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.


David Resnick founded the firm in 1998 after working in large law firms where he saw a need for greater client communication and more personal care. He wanted to help everyday folks who have had the misfortune to be injured in an accident.

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