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Construction Accidents Law

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Remodeling Projects: What if a Worker is Injured?

Homeowners are generally required to provide a place that is free or reasonably free of danger for guests onto a property. They may generally be held responsible for injuries caused by negligence in failing to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. So what should homeowners know about a home-improvement or construction contractor getting injured?

A Duty of Care

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.

If 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.

Homeowners Not Exercising Control

What if a homeowner does not exercise control over a project? Control is loosely defined as having the power to direct a person through a contract or other means. Homeowners should ask a contractor if he or she is insured and bonded. If the contractor is not insured, it could cause liability issues regardless of whether or not the homeowner exercises control. Assuming that a contractor has insurance, a homeowner might consider asking that he or she is added to the policy as an additional insured party.

Those who do not exercise control over a project could still be required to provide a general duty of care to workers.

Homeowners Exercising Control

Homeowners may pay thousands of dollars to have their roof fixed, their interior painted, or an addition put onto their home. In addition to the money spent on a project, they also have to live with the results or pay more money to get it fixed later on. Therefore, they may choose to exercise some sort of control over how a project is completed.

However, making the choice to oversee some or all of a project might make a homeowner liable for anything that happens to a worker while it is ongoing. This is because the person or entity in control of how or when a contractor works may be liable for the safety of those workers.

Insurance Coverage

A homeowner's insurance policy may protect against personal injury liability, in certain instance. Individual policies vary, and 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.