Contractors working on a home often create dangerous conditions as an ordinary part of their work. A deep trench, exposed live electrical wire, or unsupervised ladder can cause serious injuries to third parties who come onto the property. In a lawsuit arising from an injury caused by these kinds of dangerous conditions, the homeowner and the contractor both may face litigation.
Nevada contractor liability
Most types of personal injury claims against a residential contractor will rest on a theory of negligence. A negligence claim argues that the contractor failed to take reasonable care to prevent the plaintiff’s injuries. The standard of reasonable care for professionals often is drawn from applicable standards. Safety standards may come from industry groups or may be imposed by federal, state, or local law. A contractor who fails to comply with statutory or regulatory safety rules can be held strictly liable for injuries that result, regardless of whether the rules violation was due to negligence.
Nevada requires all contractors who work on residential projects to be licensed and bonded. A contractor license bond provides one potential source of financial compensation for someone who is injured by a contractor’s wrongful or negligent actions. Ideally, a contractor should also have liability insurance above and beyond the bond amount.
Homeowner premises liability
A Nevada homeowner owes guests a general duty of reasonable care. A homeowner owes guests a special duty to warn them of known unsafe conditions. A guest who is injured at the home can sue the homeowner, even if a contractor was responsible for the injuries. The homeowner, in turn, may bring the contractor into the lawsuit.
The reasonableness of a homeowner’s actions to protect guests from harm will depend on the circumstances. Moody v. Manny’s Auto Repair, 110 Nev. 320, 333 (1994). In the case of work done by a contractor, it may not be reasonable to expect a homeowner to take steps beyond what the contractor has done to make a project site safe. After all, a homeowner usually lacks the knowledge and skill of a licensed contractor. On the other hand, a homeowner may be liable for actions taken independently of the contractor. For example, a homeowner who removes a safety warning sign may be responsible for injuries that result.
Nevada’s Residential Recovery Fund offers a source of recovery for homeowners
Licensed contractors are required to pay into the state’s Residential Recovery Fund. A homeowner who suffers damages resulting from an act or omission of a residential contractor can apply to the fund to recover up to $35,000. The amount of a homeowner’s recovery from the fund will vary depending on whether the homeowner has also recovered compensation from other sources, such as a lawsuit, settlement, or the contractor’s insurance. Making a claim to the fund also requires the homeowner to allow the Nevada State Contractors Board to pursue a claim against the contractor in lieu of the homeowner (so-called subrogation of rights). NRS 624.510.
We are here for the Las Vegas community
GGRM has represented personal injury plaintiffs in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. If you have been injured as a consequence of a contractor’s actions, or you are a homeowner facing litigation, we can help you sort through your legal options. For a free attorney consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contacts page.