The state of Illinois is one of the largest states with high construction costs and equipment. So as other states began focusing on amending a piece of legislature that would affect accidents on the job, workers and contractors in the land of Lincoln sat up and took notice.
The Scaffolding Law dates back to the 1800s. It calls for building owners and contractors to be completely liable for any accident or death caused by a fall on the work site. It does not address who is actually to blame.
A worker can get injured on the construction site and be within his/her rights to sue for damages to the building owners. This applies regardless of whether he/she was impaired on the job, was negligent in taking proper safety precautions, or was just accident-prone.
One economist estimated that workplaces where the Scaffold Law was in use, saw almost 6 more accidents in every thousand employees, but after Illinois repealed its own version of the scaffold law in 1995, accident rates went down.
Another expert attributes the law to a moral issue. If a worker knows he will not have to pay for an injury, he would tend to be more aggressive in his approach to taking risks on the job.
Contractors will be less likely to enforce safety rules if they know they will lose a lawsuit.
All pieces of legislation have pros and cons. But the Scaffold law in Illinois could result in accident victims collecting big money in compensation. In reality, a judge might weigh both sides and factor that in his/her decision.
At the end of the day, the law could be a good thing, since it means that someone is looking out for the little guy in a world where the opposite seems to be the way things go.
If you experience construction negligence in the state of Illinois, you deserve all the protection you can get under the law. You need to have someone on your side in order to interpret what the parameters of legal issues really mean to the average Joe. If you have suffered an accident, it is in your best interest to know what compensation you could be entitled to.
Source: New York Daily News, "Save money, and hardhats’ lives" Bill Hammond, Apr. 27, 2014