The Real Deal New York

Real estate insiders demand Albany repeal Scaffold Law

October 17, 2013 03:29PM

Construction and real estate industry officials pushed Albany to overhaul New York State’s antiquated Scaffold Law, which they say has led to skyrocketing insurance costs for any elevated work, at a New York State Senate forum on insurance reform.

The legislation, which dates back to 1885 and pins all responsibility for elevation-related injuries on the contractors behind the construction work, has lead to premiums that have gone up as much as 1,000 percent in the last two years.

“New York State is the only state in the country to have absolute liability, which has a resonating effect before, during and after any construction project,” said Denise Richardson, managing director of the General Contractors Association of New York.

Absolute liability means that contractors shoulder all damages arising from accidents, unlike most other personal injury laws where the injured party can be apportioned some of the blame and, consequently, the cost, Real Estate Weekly reported.

The rising costs are hampering private development and public projects, industry insiders said, and pricing smaller firms out of the procurement process.

Illinois, the last state with a similar statute, repealed the law in 1995. [REW]Julie Strickland