Homeowners having work done to their homes may be concerned about not just the quality of the work, but also about the potential legal liability for injuries sustained by contractors performing the work.
By virtue of owning the property, homeowners may generally be held responsible for injuries caused by negligence in failing to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. What is considered negligence in a given situation depends in part upon the status of the injured person, but also the cause of the injury and the circumstances surrounding an accident. A homeowner's eventual liability may also depend on whether an injury will be covered by insurance.
What do homeowners need to know about the possibility of a home-improvement or construction contractor being injured?
Duty of Care Owed to Contractors
Although contractors are on a person's property in a professional capacity, homeowners still owe them a duty to reasonably maintain the property. For the purposes of homeowner liability, injured parties are grouped into three categories, each of which are owed varying levels of care: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
Contractors are generally considered to be invitees, which include visitors on a property for business purposes (such as workers or customers in a store). Homeowners owe the highest degree of care to this group of visitors, including a duty to repair known dangers and inspect for undiscovered hazards in areas an invitee may have access.
When a homeowner fails to live up to this duty, and a contractor is injured because of a condition that the homeowner would reasonably have been expected to discover and correct, the homeowner may be liable for negligence in a personal injury lawsuit.
What About Insurance?
In some instances, a homeowner's insurance policy may protect against personal injury liability. Although individual policies vary, some homeowner's policies provide coverage for accidents and injury claims, including those by contractors.
A contractor's injury may also be covered by the contractor's own insurance. If the contractor is working as an employee of a larger company or contractor, he or she may be covered by worker's compensation. Contractors may also have other forms of insurance coverage that may provide coverage for injuries sustained by the contractors themselves, or a contractor's employees and subcontractors.
If you are concerned about potential liability for a contractor injured on your property, you may wish to contact a personal injury defense attorney. You can also learn more about liability for injuries or accidents at FindLaw's section on Homeowner Liability and Safety.