Homeowner liability for personal injury of contracted workers? How do I protect myself?
5 attorney answers
Let me echo Attorney Phillips' advice. I have represented homeowners who have been sued as a result of contractors' negligence, and also a private homeowner who was suesd when a worker for a roofing company without workers compensation insurance was paralyzed after fall from a roof. It wasn't pretty. Hire insured contractors and have the
provide insurance certificates--you'll sleep better.
I agree. NEVER hire anyone to do work at your home that is not fully licensed and insured. Check worker's compensation at http://www.fldfs.com/wc/. Check license at https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp.
If someone wants to be hired by you, they will be able to provide you with a valid declarations page from their insurance policy or a certificate of insurance. Do not take verbal assurances.
When you are presented with a declarations page or certificate of insurance, make note of the policy number and name of the insurance carrier. I suggest that you call the insurance company and confirm that the insurance is in effect and has not lapsed or that you have not been presented with a forged document. Ideally you should receive a copy of the declarations page or certificate to keep for your records.
Once a repair person has made repairs to your property and leaves, you, as the property owner, become responsible for the results of the repair. If the repair has been completed improperly and causes injury to a 3rd party, you will find yourself sued as the property owner. It is somewhat reassuring to know that the person you hired has insurance coverage and can be brought into the suit or claim to help share in payment of the damages.
You may also wish to review your current homeowners policy to see whether or not it provides payment under a "medical payments" clause. You will need to review whether or not the policy would provide benefits to a contractor who may be injured on your property. Such a person may be excluded from coverage, however, the policy language will need to state so without equivocation.
Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to insure proper advice is received.
There's no way to force them to show you their bond & insurance papers (Declarations Page), etc.; but you can vote with your pocketbook and refuse to hire contractors that do not cooperate. In Florida, check with the Dept of Business and Professional Regulations, I think it's called, to verify licensure. If they are bonded, they could/should show you the bond papers; and you should be able to call the bond company to verify that it is still in force. Workers' Comp coverage might be different. I would start by asking for their policy Dec Page. If they stiff you on that, you could probably check with the Florida Division of Workers' Comp. You might have to search the internet a little bit to make sure that you get the right website and contact info for the Division. I bet you could call attorney Ken Schwartz and get the right info for comp right away. 561-478-5056. Otherwise, you should not need to hire one of us to find this info out for you. Good luck.
Every insurance person says that everywhere is litigious. My advice: CYA. Hire only licensed and insured contractors - not for their injuries so much as for their mistakes and damage to your property. In the meantime, review your policy's liability coverage and proceed accordingly.