Silly Laws and Stupid Regs: Scaffold Edition

This edition of Silly Laws and Stupid Regs comes to us via reader Brian N. Thanks for the link Brian!

Thomas B. Stebbins writes in the Times Herald-Record that New York’s Scaffold law should be abolished. New York is the only state that still has this law, according to the author.

But what is it?

Under this law, contractors, employers and property owners are held absolutely liable for “elevation-related injuries.” In New York, unlike any other state, when an injured worker sues, the employer is automatically liable, even if the injured worker was entirely at fault. Contrary to the most basic principles of justice and fairness, the employer has little access to due process.

New York is trying to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge (Yes, that is its real name) and cost estimates put it at about $5 billion to replace. Wow, right? Guess how much of that estimated figure is insurance:

This critical issue raises the cost of construction in New York and drives many firms out of the state. It costs contractors, builders and municipalities untold billions of dollars. Thanks to the Scaffold Law, of the $5 billion that it will (reportedly) cost to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge, fully $1.5 billion of that could be spent on insurance. If the bridge were built in Chicago, the insurance cost would be closer to $300 million. Why the difference?

Trial attorneys and insurers love this law. But taxpayers shouldn’t. If you are a New Yorker, write to Gov. Cuomo and your members of the Assembly and the Senate to tell them that if they want to make New York “Open for Business” they should repeal, or at least, reform this stupid law.

Thanks to Sen. Patrick Gallivan for his advocacy on this issue.

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