You believe that when you hire a contractor to work on your property, you are not liable for any injuries to the contractor or their employees. While this may be true in some instances, if you exercised control over the project, you may discover too late that you are liable for damages. Before you hire anyone to work on your New York property, you should be aware of your potential liability in the event that a worker is injured on your property.
New York Labor Laws for Contractors and Homeowners
Generally, New York Labor Law 240 and 241 exempt homeowners of one- and two-family homes from liability for contractor injuries on their property. Nevertheless, there is a catch.
If you “control” the work performed on your property, you may be liable if the contractor or a worker is injured there.
‘Controlling’ the work performed on your home could involve providing the contractor or workers with the necessary equipment and tools. Providing specific instructions or directing the actual work performed can also be considered “controlling” the work.
In those cases, you could be responsible for injuries, financial losses, and other damages sustained by workers on your property.
How Can I Avoid Liability for Injuries When Hiring Someone to Work on My Home?
Do not provide directions or instructions for home improvement projects. Aside from describing the work to be performed, the contractor and workers should be responsible for determining how to complete the task.
Request a copy of the contractor’s commercial general liability insurance policy before signing any agreements for work, home improvements, or construction on your property. You should also request the contractor’s certificate of workers’ compensation insurance.
Additionally, contractors must provide copies of their business licences and any additional licences required for the proposed project.
Liability Under a Premises Liability Claim
If you fail to maintain your home and property in a reasonably safe condition, you may be liable for resulting damages. To recover damages, the injured party must demonstrate that you were negligent. Negligence can involve failing to make necessary repairs, removing hazardous materials, and providing adequate warning of hazardous conditions.
Unless the dangerous condition was created by the property owner, courts typically find that the owner must have had actual or constructive notice of the condition.
Actual notice would occur if the owner knew about the dangerous condition because they saw it or were told about it. Generally, constructive notice means that the owner should have been aware of the condition. For instance, the condition has persisted for sufficient time for a reasonable person to recognise the danger.
Consequently, suppose you were aware of exposed wiring in your homes. However, you neglected to inform the contractor who will install your new bathroom. You could be held liable under premises liability laws if the contractor is injured due to the exposed wiring.
Similarly, suppose you were aware that your child dug a large hole in the backyard, but you failed to verify that the hole had been filled before a contractor began working on your property. If you fail to warn the contractor about the hole, you may be held responsible if the contractor falls due to the hole.
To recover damages for an injury, the contractor or employee must prove the elements of negligence and premises liability.
What Damages Can Be Recovered for an Injury on My Property?
If a jury determines that you are responsible for a worker’s injury, you may be required to pay economic damages. Economic damages can include:
- Medical bills
- Cash-paying expenses
- Lost wages and benefits
- Health care
- Reduced earning capacity
- Personal care and home maintenance
You may also be liable for the non-economic damages suffered by the employee. These damages include permanent impairments, disfigurement, and disabilities. Also included are the individual’s pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and psychological distress.
Does Homeowners’ Insurance Cover a Worker’s Injuries on My Property?
Your homeowner’s insurance may cover property-related injuries. Whether or not you have coverage for a particular incident is determined by the terms and conditions of your homeowner’s insurance policy and the circumstances. However, the company’s liability for covered losses is limited to the policy limits.
If your homeowner’s insurance does not cover the injuries of a worker, you may be personally liable for damages. If someone is injured while working in your home, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced premises liability attorney. Even if your insurance company appoints an attorney to defend a potential claim, you should seek legal counsel as soon as you become aware of a possible claim.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm
Contact Abrams Law Group for a free consultation if you’ve been hurt in an accident and require legal assistance.