Most homeowners assume that company insurance protects the contractors they hire. They don’t consider a contractor’s injury their responsibility if it happens while the contractor works on their property.
However, the contractor can sue the homeowner and hold them liable for legal costs if the worker gets injured. This liability can result in thousands of dollars in legal expenses and hours spent in court.
You can reduce your risks by understanding the legal regulations and repercussions associated with a contractor’s injury on your property. At Dame Legal, our expert personal injury attorneys can help you if someone sues you for an on-site injury.
Whether you hire contractors for renovating a house or doing simple repairs, you should know your options. In this case, you can either choose whether you exercise control over the construction project or assume responsibility for it.
Option 1: Don’t Exercise Control over Contractors
If you don’t exercise control over contractors, you let someone else handle operations on the job site. With this option, the homeowner steps away and hires a general contractor, reviews the plans, and negotiates the price of the project.
If the contractor breaks the contract in terms of safety, the homeowner assumes they can sue. However, if you step away and believe the contractor is responsible for potential job site injuries, the contractor can argue that you created an unsafe work environment. You could then be sued for negligence if an accident happens.
The state of New Jersey requires minimum safety standards on properties. If your home or business doesn’t meet these standards, you could be liable. Also, you must make contractors aware of the hazards in your home. These hazards could range from a rotten piece of wood to more extensive structural damages.
For example, if you hire a contractor to repair a ceiling light, and they fall through a patch of unstable flooring. The contractor entered your home under the assumption that you had created a safe work environment. In a court of law, you can be seen as having premises liability, as you were aware of dangerous conditions before the injury happened and failed to warn the contractor of the rotten wood.
Option 2: Do Exercise Control over Contractors
After reading about the possible outcomes of giving up control, you may think you should take the reins on your next construction project. However, this assuming responsibility can have legal implications as well.
For example, you might suggest workers wear safety goggles, gloves, and carry a respirator when checking the water damage to your home. However, by suggesting that, it means you take responsibility for all of the workers on site.
If you give instructions to contractors, a court could interpret that as you taking responsibility. In the event of an injury, you could face a lawsuit.
Homeowners Insurance Policy
Your homeowners’ insurance will cover any injuries that happen on your property in most cases. Liability coverage covers any damage as long as that injury was an accident. As long as you explained the safety standards of your home, you have coverage.
However, that coverage doesn’t typically extend to contractors. For this reason, you should only work with reputable companies. By hiring the cheapest person you can find online, you risk them not having insurance and lacking your own coverage.
How to Protect Yourself
Hiring an uninsured contractor could have devastating financial consequences. Before you ask someone to build or renovate your property, you should ensure you have coverage in the event of an injury.
Be sure to ask for proof of the contractor’s license, and ensure that the license is still valid. Ask for proof of their insurance and insurance for any subcontractors. Usually, contractors who don’t carry insurance for their subcontractors or themselves will be much cheaper.
If a contractor bids exceptionally low, you should see that as a red flag that they might not have proper licensing and insurance. While you want to get the lowest price, a significant injury can cost thousands in legal fees and negate any money you saved on the estimated price.
Before beginning a project with a contractor, know the safety standards of your property. Check for any hazards that could cause an injury to contractors or subcontractors. Lastly, reassess your homeowners’ insurance to check if it covers contractors. If not, you should hire a reputable contractor with proper licensing and insurance.
To learn more about your liabilities, contact our personal injury attorneys at Dame Legal. We offer fast, reliable legal services in the New Jersey and New York areas. Call us today at 201-231-7580 and ask about your options.