Owner's Liability for Injury to Contractor's Employee in Texas
Texas Civil Practive & Remedies Code Chapter 95Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Chapter 95 protects an owner of construction projects as long as (1) the owner did not exercise or retain control over the manner in which the work was performed, other than the right to order the work to start or stop or to inspect progress or receive reports, and (2) the owner did not have actual knowledge of the danger or condition resulting in the personal injury, death, or property damage and failed to adequately warn.
Illustrative Case of Owner Non-Liability under Chapter 95A contractor was hired to repair an air conditioning system on the roof of a building. The contractor's employee fell off the ladder while climbing to reach the air conditioning unit on the roof. As it turns out, the ladder was defective. Because the injury to an employee of an independent contractor arose from contractor's work on an improvement to real property, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 95 applied to determine whether the owner was liable for failing to provide a safe workplace. Even though the employee was injured in a fall from a defective ladder, and not by the actual improvement he was working on, the court held that (1) Chapter 95 applied; (2) the owner did not violate any duty to warn the employee of a defective ladder; and (3) property managers were agents of property owner, and thus were entitled to protection under Chapter 95. See, Fisher v. Lee and Chang Partnership, 16 S.W.3d 198 (Tex.App. - Houston [1st Dist.] 2000).
Full Text of Section 95.003Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code section 95.003 provides:
?95.003. Liability for Acts of Independent Contractors
A property owner is not liable for personal injury, death, or property damage to a contractor, subcontractor, or an employee of a contractor or subcontractor who constructs, repairs, renovates, or modifies an improvement to real property, including personal injury, death, or property damage arising from the failure to provide a safe workplace unless:
(1) the property owner exercises or retains some control over the manner in which the work is performed, other than the right to order the work to start or stop or to inspect progress or receive reports; and
(2) the property owner had actual knowledge of the danger or condition resulting in the personal injury, death, or property damage and failed to adequately warn.