If Someone Gets Hurt While Working on Your Property Are You Liable?
As a homeowner, you have certain legal responsibilities over the safety of the people you welcome onto your property. This responsibility – known as premises liability – extends to workers such as landscapers, babysitters, contractors, repairmen and housekeepers.
While you may assume that a professional such as a construction worker has his or her own insurance and an injury on the job won’t be your responsibility, this is unfortunately not always the case. In many scenarios, a worker can hold you liable for damages.
What Are Your Duties of Care to a Worker on Your Property?
Someone who enters your home for your own purposes or benefit, such as a worker you hired to perform a service on your property, is legally classified as an invitee. This is the highest level of property visitor and the person to whom you owe the most duties of care.
While you may not have the same degree of responsibility for the safety of a licensee or trespasser, if an invitee enters your property, you must fulfill four main duties:
- The duty to search a property for unknown or hidden hazards.
- The duty to repair known or discovered hazards in a reasonable amount of time.
- The duty to warn of existing hazards that may not be obvious.
- The duty not to cause an injury through a wanton or willful act.
If you fail to fulfill these duties of care and a worker is injured on your property because of your mistake, you could be legally at fault for failing to take due care to prevent the accident or injury. To hold you liable, however, the worker must prove through clear and convincing evidence that you knew of the dangerous hazard or defect, failed to remedy the issue in a timely manner, and that this caused his or her injury.
You Have Two Choices: To Exercise Control or To Not Exercise Control
An important distinction to make when determining liability for a worker injury on your property is how much control you took over the project. If you exercised control over the project, such as by performing tasks usually assigned to a general contractor, you could absorb greater liability for accidents and injuries. The closer you monitor work done on your property, the greater your liability may become in relation to worker injuries.
If, on the other hand, you choose not to exercise control over the project, this can decrease your amount of liability. If you step out of the way and allow a general contractor to take over the project, the contractor will most likely bear some portion of legal responsibility for the safety of the worksite. You are still required, however, to provide a reasonably safe space for workers.
Will Your Homeowners Insurance Cover the Damages?
If you are found liable for someone else’s injury while working on your property in California, your homeowners insurance should cover the legal costs. You may have Med-Pay coverage to pay for injuries and/or liability insurance to protect from lawsuits against you.
For the most part, homeowners insurance will cover any and all injuries that take place on your property, including injuries to workers and contractors. There is an exception, however, if your own carelessness or negligence caused the accident.
If your homeowners insurance company believes you contributed to the accident by failing to exercise the right amount of care over the safety of your property, it may withhold coverage in a premises liability lawsuit against you.
It can be difficult to understand whether or not you can be held legally responsible for a worker injury on your property. You may need assistance from a Los Angeles premises liability attorney to work through the specifics of your case. A lawyer can also help you explore your rights if you were injured on someone else’s property as a worker.