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Legislative Memo

T 518.465.7517

BILL:

A.9281 (Nolan)

Support

SUBJECT:

Liability Insurance Coverage

 

DATE:

June 26, 2001

 

The Business Council of New York State, Inc. a statewide association of more than 4000 companies, chambers of commerce, and trade associations which employ more than one million individuals, has reviewed the aforementioned legislation and opposes its enactment.

Artificially capping the cost of liability coverage does not solve the underlying reason for rapidly escalating insurance prices. This legislation does not address the core issue of the need for reform of sections 240 and 241 of the labor law. Until the liability exposure of sections 240 and 241 are fixed a short term band-aid solution will end up being a financial morass for insurers forced to cap their prices without capping their costs.

Sections 240 and 241 of the Labor Law establishes the liability of contractors, owners and their agents for injuries which occur at construction and other work sites. Courts have determined that this liability is absolute and that a plaintiff's own culpability shall not be considered in determining fault. New York State is the only state which imposes such a liability standard. The courts have liberally interpreted this act to include any workplace accident (utility poles, fixed ladders within a manufacturing plant, staircases, etc.) which occurs on an elevation and is caused by gravity, witnessed or unwitnessed. These cases have expanded away from construction sites to include manufacturers, public utilities, residential homes, and governments.

This bill fails to address the problems inherent in sections 240 and 241 of the labor law that require legislative attention. The Business Council of the State of New York, Inc. opposes this legislation and urges that the bill be held.