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Who’s Liable If You’re Injured in a Window Washing Accident?


Those who are employed in the window washing industry face significant dangers on a daily basis. Often working hundreds of feet above the ground, New York City window washers risk severe injury or fatality if proper safety measures aren’t in place — or if fall protection equipment is defective. Window washing accidents can be emotionally and financially devastating for the victim and their family, resulting in permanent disability and income loss. If you were injured or lost a loved one in a window washing accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. 

Causes of New York City Window Washing Accidents

In a city filled with thousands of high-rises and countless skyscrapers, window washing can be hazardous. Importantly, contractors must provide window washers who are employed by them with adequate safety gear and equipment under the New York Department of Labor’s Industrial Code. Despite these safety requirements, window washing accidents can still occur. 

Some common reasons for window washing accidents can include: 

  • Improper safety gear
  • Failure to provide adequate harnesses, safety belts, or safety ropes
  • Lack of proper training
  • Scaffold collapse
  • Unsecured guardrails
  • Failure to inspect or maintain equipment
  • Broken cables

Since these accidents often involve substantial heights, the resulting injuries can be catastrophic. Window washing fall injuries may include concussion, paralysis, severe disfigurement, broken bones, or tragically, fatality.

New York Labor Law Protections for Window Washers

Window washers are afforded specific legal protections from dangerous conditions under New York law. New York Labor Law § 202 requires that owners, lessees, agents, and managers of certain buildings provide window washers and cleaning crews with a “safe means” for window cleaning — they are expressly prohibited from allowing windows to be washed if the work cannot be carried out safely. 

New York Labor Law § 240(1) — commonly known as “The Scaffold Law” — is typically used to invoke liability in construction site accidents, but it also allows window washers to pursue legal recourse for a height-related accident. General contractors, owners, or agents may be held strictly liable for failure to provide adequate safety gear to window washers who work from heights. 

Compensation for Window Washing Accidents in New York City

Although you can’t sue your employer for negligence due to New York’s Workers’ Compensation law, you may still be entitled to recover your damages in a personal injury action if another party is responsible for the accident. For instance, if a building owner’s failure to maintain safe anchorage points caused your injuries, they may be liable for negligence. 

Similarly, a superintendent, manager, or tenant might also be held accountable if they failed to ensure safe conditions. In other cases — such as those involving a platform collapse or defective equipment — a manufacturer may be to blame.

By filing a personal injury lawsuit against a third-party, you may be able to recover economic damages, including unreimbursed medical expenses, past lost wages, future loss of earnings, and out-of-pocket expenses in connection with accident-related medical treatment. You may also be awarded non-economic damages for the pain and suffering you have endured due to your injuries.

Additionally, the spouse and dependents of a window washer who passed away due to a fatal fall may be entitled to monetary recovery in a wrongful death action.   

Contact an Experienced Window Washing Accident Attorney

Window washing accidents can be complex and require the skill of an experienced personal injury attorney to secure the best possible results in your case. The attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. provide committed advocacy and high-quality legal services for window washing accident victims and their families to help ensure you obtain the maximum compensation you deserve.

The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, Rockland County, and on Long Island in Nassau County and Suffolk County. Contact us for a consultation.