If you are renovating your home and have hired help, who is liable if a contractor is injured? What can you do to avoid liability? At Willoughby Shulman Injury Lawyers, we help our clients with personal injury claims, slip and fall injuries, and even workers’ compensation claims so we understand both sides of personal injuries. We can help you better understand how liability works in the case of a renovation accident.
Read along as we take a look at a handful of liability scenarios, and dive deep into what your options may be.
You Have an Obligation to Provide a Safe Work Environment
As a homeowner, you have an obligation to provide a safe work environment for any contractor in your home. This means that you are required to, within reason, ensure that contractors are made aware of any hazards they may encounter.
If a contractor is injured due to slipping, tripping, falling over hazards in your home, or being bitten by one of your dogs that you failed to restrain—you may be liable for an injury on your property.
But what if you provide a safe work environment and a contractor is still injured on the job?
How to Determine Who is Liable if a Contractor is Injured During Your Renovation
When it comes to determining liability for an injury that occurred in your home, there are 2 situations that will change how much liability you assume as a homeowner. In the first situation, the homeowner chooses to be involved with the renovation by overseeing the project. In the second situation, the homeowner takes a backseat and lets the contractor have control over the project.
Situation 1: Homeowner Assumes Control Over the Work
When you hire contractors for a renovation, you have a financial and emotional investment in the work. This is understandable as it is your home, and you want the work completed just as you imagined it. You are paying good money for the work after all. This could be a mistake though.
If you, as the homeowner, assume control of the renovation; supervise the contractor, and instruct contractors on when and how to do the work—then you are assuming more responsibility over potential injuries.
When a homeowner assumes control over the work, they are blurring the lines between being a customer and being an employer. An employer, who oversees when and how employees work, is responsible for their employee’s health and safety and this includes providing workers’ compensation for any injuries that occur on the job.
However unintended, taking control of the work may cause you to accidentally cross the line from customer to employer in the eyes of the law.
Situation 2: Homeowner Does NOT Assume Control Over the Work
On the other hand, a homeowner who steps back and lets contractors do their work with minimal intervention may remove themselves from liability. Remember that a homeowner has an obligation to provide a safe work environment and warn contractors of potential hazards, but once that obligation has been met the best thing to do is to keep involvement to a minimum.
If a contractor (or a subcontractor) is injured and the homeowner was not involved in supervising the project, it strengthens the argument that the contractor’s insurance would cover any workers’ compensation claim made.
Will Homeowners Insurance Protect You from a Personal Injury Claim
Now that we have a better understanding of how situations may change liability of a personal injury claim during a renovation project, you may be wondering if your insurance will cover any of the contractor’s injuries.
While each insurance policy will be different than the next, it is likely that the liability coverage of your homeowner’s insurance policy will apply to any injury that occurs on your property, so long as the incident was an accident.
These cases can be incredibly difficult for a homeowner to navigate on their own. If a contractor has made a claim against you for an injury on your property that you believe you are not liable for, Willoughby Shulman may be able to help. Get in touch today for a free consultation to discuss some of your options.