As the holidays draw nearer and as the year comes to a close, many homeowners
will be hiring workers to remove holiday decorations, perform home repairs,
clean chimneys, and more. Anytime someone works on a roof or in a dangerous
area of your home, it’s sure to raise the question of liability
in the event of an accident.
You’ve likely heard of stories where someone fell from the roof of
a home and attempted to sue the homeowner or claim against the homeowner’s
insurance company. Sometimes this is indeed how injury costs are paid
for – but not always. Liability in a contractor or worker injury
on your property depends on a variety of factors.
Typically, it must be proven that the building or home owner’s negligence
caused the accident that caused injuries to a worker. For instance, if
a property owner is aware of any condition that may potentially be dangerous
for a worker, they must properly inform them in advance. If you have a
soft spot in the floor or infestation that affects the integrity of your
roof, let a contractor know before they begin work.
Whether or not the homeowner chose to exercise control or not may also
play a factor. Exercising control essentially means you are actively involved
in the project with workers. While taking an interest in the work being
done is fine, do so with caution. A homeowner that controls the day-to-day
operation of a contractor’s work is more likely to expose themselves
to personal injury liability, as opposed to a homeowner that keeps their
distance on a project. Exercising control often leads to more problems
because the homeowner is making themselves responsible for the safety
of the contractors on site. If you may a recommendation to move a scaffold
or ladder to a different location and the contractor then falls –
your suggestion can be used as establishment of fault. Homeowners giving
instructions to workers can be interpreted as taking responsibility of
the workers’ well-being on the site. Not exercising control typically
happens when a homeowner steps away from the project once they hire a
contractor to do the work. It is under the assumption that the workers
will do their job correctly. However, it is still crucial that a safe
working environment is provided for the contractors.
The best advice one can give in regards to hiring someone to work around
your property is to verify license and insurance. Your friend or handy
neighbor is not the person you want climbing onto your roof or otherwise
putting themselves at risk on your property. Before hiring a worker or
contractor, ask to see a current license and proof of insurance. It’s
also acceptable to contact the insurance company to verify coverage. Make
sure to document everything when working with a contractor or workers
of any sort. Always attempt to obtain signed releases from contractors
so that you are not liable for injuries.
Not all contractors will be willing and ready to claim against a property
owner for injuries they sustain on the job, but it’s always a possibility.
So we urge you to protect yourself by educating yourself. For more information
or to ask further questions, call our office at 770-427-5498.