So you need to have your roof repaired, or maybe even replaced. Virtually every homeowner will eventually deal with roof repairs. This is for a number of reasons, including of course the fact that roofs tend to take a lot of damage over the years. Think about how much a roof protects you and your family from; there’s a lot to be said for making sure that your roof is well-maintained. With that being said, this is going to involve working with a roofing or construction contractor. Your contractor will be responsible for going up on the roof, handling any necessary repairs, and advising you on whether or not a replacement is necessary. Finding a responsible, experienced contractor is key to ensuring that the repairs are done correctly. The last thing you want to deal with is a contractor who doesn’t know what they’re doing or isn’t willing to work with you and let you know what should be done, while at the same time acknowledging what you can afford at the moment. However, no matter how qualified your contractor is, there are some risks inherent to working on a roof. What happens if your contractor or their employees are hurt on the job?
Homeowner liability for contractor injury is not something that a lot of homeowners think about before hiring a contractor. A lot of them assume that because a contractor is experienced and professional, an injury is out of the question, at least on a serious level. Unfortunately, accidents do happen, and anyone, no matter what their skill level, can be hurt while working on a roof. The real question is what will happen if that injury does happen, and what a homeowner should do to both ensure that their contractor is safe and taken care of, while also making sure that they aren’t held liable for something that wasn’t their fault. As guilty as you may initially feel, remember that just because the injury occurred on your roof, doesn’t mean that you are solely at fault. Let’s look into what you should do if a contractor or their employees are hurt while working on your roof.
What Are The Limits To Homeowner Liability For Contractor Injury?
In the initial aftermath of a contractor injury on your rooftop, everything will probably be something of a blur. If you’re physically present, you’ll probably be focused on helping with first aid and ensuring that the injured party receives professional medical care as soon as possible. But soon after, it’s understandable if you start to worry about what exactly you’ll be held responsible for. It’s a serious question, and the answer can be difficult to understand. This is why it’s important that you consult with legal counsel as soon as possible. Local laws may vary, and your specific situation will probably affect how much you may be liable for the incident.
Firstly, there is a legal theory called premises liability, which could very well lead to heavier homeowner liability for a contractor injury. This is why a lot of attorneys recommend that homeowners understand exactly how much they are at risk for before they hire a contractor; unfortunately, this often doesn’t take place as it should. You of course should trust your contractor when they’re experienced and qualified, and you’ll want to have a good working relationship with them. But there’s nothing wrong with asking them questions about liability ahead of time, and even working with a lawyer to protect yourself. Much of what you’re liable for will come down to how much control you have over the project in question.
What If I Don’t Have Any Control Over The Roofing Project?
Now, you may not have a lot to say about your roofing repairs or replacement at all, and leave a lot of it up to the licensed contractors that you decided to work with. This isn’t unusual. A roof repair isn’t like a remodeling project within the home. You’re usually going to focus more on functionality and cost than aesthetic when it comes to your roof. With that being said, the less control you have over the repairs, the less you’ll be liable for, most likely. What you are required to do in this scenario is let your roofing contractors know about any potential risks or defects within your home. If your roof sags or has weak spots, you need to make them aware to minimize both their risk of injury and homeowner liability for contractor injury.
What Happens If I Do Control The Project?
As previously discussed, homeowner liability for contractor injury does increase when a homeowner exercises more control over the project. If a contractor advises you about a particular risk to something you want done to your roof and you push for it anyway, you may very well be held responsible for the subsequent injuries. You may want to be as hands-off as possible when handling a roofing project, because the more you’re involved, the more you can be held responsible if something goes wrong. If you’re present and directing things during the day to do day operations, it because as much your project as it is the contractor’s.
The issue is that if you are constantly monitoring or directing the project, an accident injury attorney may be able to argue that you took higher responsibility for the project on a legal level, and therefore became responsible for the overall safety of the workers in a way that you wouldn’t have been if you took a hands-off approach. Imagine for example you instructed the workers to use a specific type of ladder because it would make reaching the roof easier. The ladder then breaks, injuring the workers. You may be held responsible in this case, as you increased the homeowner liability for contractor injury when you gave that instruction.
Even a seemingly innocuous comment can affect the homeowner liability for contractor injury. Imagine you notice your roofers working without the right type of fall protection gear, or at least the type of gear that you think is necessary. If you mention this to your contractor, you may be taking some level of responsibility for their safety. Now, we’d love to believe that you wouldn’t be held responsible for a single comment, but sometimes this isn’t the case. This is why it’s so important to work with a contractor that you can genuinely trust. However, even if you do trust your contractor, an injury on the job and the resulting medical expenses can bring up issues that you previously were unaware of. This is why you’re better off being a bit paranoid and making sure that you’re as far away from the “action” of the project as possible.
What If I Have Homeowner’s Insurance?
If you’re worried about your personal homeowner liability for contractor injury, you should look into your homeowner’s insurance policy to see how it might help you ahead of time. Not everyone has homeowner’s insurance, but it can be just as helpful in aiding you in situations like these as it would if your home was damaged due to extreme weather or natural disasters. Every policy is going to vary depending on the type of injury that occurred, the policy you purchased, and much more. But virtually every policy will have some kind of insurance against an accident that occurs on your property, provided that the incident didn’t occur due to something you did on purpose.
Usually, this type of insurance policy is going to take measures to ensure that the medical expenses the contractor experiences are covered. The issue that can occur here is that this may not necessarily be enough in the contractor’s perspective. It’s important that you monitor the situation, especially if the injury was severe and resulted in your contractor being out of work temporarily or even permanently. In cases such as these, something that started out as a simple residential roof installation could become something of a legal quagmire that you deal with for years.
When Should I Start Consulting With Lawyers?
With 1.3 million practicing lawyers in the United States, it shouldn’t be hard for you to find an attorney. Generally speaking, you should probably consult with injury lawyers as soon as possible. But you need to stay in touch with your contractor as much as possible, to see if they’ve gotten their own lawyers. While lawyers can be hired as a precaution, that may very well be an indication of what you need to be prepared for.
Your insurance policy will pay the injured party out to a point. However, once that point is reached, the injured party will not receive any more compensation. Depending on the type of coverage you have, this may not be enough in the contractor’s perspective. This is where a legal battle could emerge. Now, sometimes your policy may have what is known as an “umbrella”, which is a provision that will extend beyond what your policy initially covered. This could end up being your saving grace, but you may have to stretch beyond that if you’re working with a particularly tough individual. Fortunately, your insurance policy will often cover an initial legal defense to help you deal with any potential lawsuit. In that case, you won’t even have to look for an attorney. Rather, you’ll be appointed one through your insurance company. While you may want to have control over your attorney selection, this is actually a great thing because when you’re the one being sued, hiring a personal injury attorney can be incredibly expensive. You’ll be glad that your insurance company is doing the work for you, and for that matter folding the initial costs into your policy.
Again, it’s natural to feel guilty if someone gets hurt on your property. But you need to remember that risk is inherent to a contractor’s job, and you don’t want to say anything that will increase the homeowner liability for contractor injury in your case. It’s important that you protect yourself by being kind without coming off as too apologetic, as this could be used to paint you as the responsible party.
For that matter, it’s important to prioritize your contractors’ safety ahead of time. Don’t be sad and conciliatory once you’re worried about homeowner liability for contractor injury. Focus on actually making sure that they’re aware and safe, and doing your part by simply being less involved. Don’t be controlling, and take a hands-off approach that will allow the experts to do their jobs as they see fit.
At the end of the day, it’s not difficult to lower your homeowner liability for contractor injury risk. However, it’s impossible to guarantee that nobody will be hurt. For that reason, the best thing you can do is invest in a good homeowner’s insurance policy.