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A Homeowner’s Liability Toward “Odd-Jobs” Workers

Every homeowner can use a helping hand from time to time on projects around the house. Mowing lawns, fixing a leaky faucet, or patching a hole in a wall are all examples of work that the so-called gig economy has started to fill in. A homeowner can save time and potentially save a lot of money by hiring people on an impromptu, cash basis to do this sort of work. But whenever someone does work for pay there’s an added element of risk that homeowners need to think about. Although a homeowner may be justified in concluding that a risk is worth taking, it’s still worth understanding what the risks are so they can be minimized. There are several types of risk associated with hiring casual laborers to do work around the house:

  • Premises liability. In Nevada homeowner have a general duty of care to ensure that their homes and properties are in safe condition for lawful visitors. The homeowner’s obligation extends to keeping the home in reasonably safe condition and warning visitors of known hazards. If a visitor is injured by an unsafe condition they may have the option of suing the homeowner to recover compensation for the injury.
  • The posture of homeowner’s insurance. One of the key questions a homeowner should ask is whether his or her insurance will cover injuries to laborers who do work around the home. The answer is usually something like “Yes, but . . .” The limits of coverage provided by a policy can help the homeowner evaluate the scope of personal risk for a given type of job. For example, a policy may disclaim responsibility for injuries caused by unlicensed work on the home’s electrical system. Or it may limit damages that are available for individuals who are paid for their work, who the insurer assumes (rightly or wrongly) are providing their own insurance coverage.
  • The facts of the job. Hiring someone to paint a wall is probably less risky than asking someone to repair a roof or fix a gas-fired appliance. Measuring the potential harm that can come from a given project—fire, electric shock, falls—is always a good idea. If the risks are substantial it may be worth the cost to hire a contractor that carries its own insurance. Bear in mind, though, that even simple jobs can result in accidents and injuries: painting a wall can be enough to throw out a back or sprain an elbow.
  • Licensing and permitting requirements. One reason a homeowner will hire out work on a casual basis is to avoid the hassle and cost of getting permits and licenses that are required for certain kinds of work. If work is completed without legally required approvals it can create headaches when the home is sold, expose the homeowner to fees, and may invalidate insurance coverage in some cases. A licensed contractor helps homeowners comply with their legal obligations.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us today at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.