In today’s Journal News, LRANY’s Scott Hobson writes that the Scaffold Law is a major cost driver for construction projects in New York.
The recent news that New York State has been denied more than $481 million in federal loans for the construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge is a timely reminder to take a hard look at the reasons infrastructure construction is so astoundingly expensive in New York.
One of the most significant cost drivers is the New York-only “Scaffold Law,” which imposes total and virtually inescapable liability on contractors and property owners in lawsuits for gravity-related construction accidents. Not surprisingly, this law is the single greatest source of litigation in New York, accounting for more than half of the highest legal settlements in 2012.
But where personal injury lawyers benefit, workers and taxpayers lose out. In the case of the Tappan Zee project, insurers estimate that as much as $400 million could be saved were the Scaffold Law not in place. That’s enough to make the state’s recent loan woes moot.