Liability to Construction Workers for Personal Injury
The Control Paradox
Is it possible to be held liable for an injury sustained by a construction worker while working on a project at your home? Absolutely. Just thinking about this probably makes you think about watching over that next home improvement like a warden and exercising the utmost control. Right? Well, here is something you need to think about – it is called the “control paradox.”
Let us start with the conclusion you likely already jumped to. Fear of a contractor injuring himself in your home. You may lack fundamental knowledge of home improvement, but it is your turf, your money and what harm could there be in offering guidance? Let us take a step back. A court will likely agree that you are under obligation to provide a safe environment for the contractor to work in. Yet, at the same time, in a hypothetical case involving an accident that occurred under your watchful eye, that very guidance can be interpreted as instructions that in some way can be linked to or seen as the cause of the very incident itself. If you end up insisting on the use of any equipment or method and the equipment or method is found to be the cause of the injury, you can be found liable. So, here we have the understandable desire to oversee your investment, and at the same time, that desire to control could lead to financial distress. This is the control paradox. But wait, there is more.
So, what if you go the other route? You have worked out the plans and the price. You step away and leave it to the professionals, so they say. Ah, but remember that obligation to provide a safe environment? Now, focus on what the worker is there to fix. If the glitch the worker is there to correct somehow leads to his or her injury, then the less likely the worker has a case because he or she had to have known about the glitch before starting the job. Conversely, if the worker begins work and an unforeseen problem causes an accident, guess who may be liable? The problem may have been unforeseen by the worker, but a court can all too easily hold you responsible for failing to warn that individual. So, here we have the relinquishing of control that could still leave someone susceptible to liability.
All this talk of the control paradox can leave you feeling rather helpless. That is where premises liability and knowledge thereof can come in handy. Granted, it must be said that we are entering into territory best navigated by an attorney. Of course, you are more than welcome to contact this office with all questions, but let us just touch upon the basics of premises liability.
Anyone who sets foot on your property falls into one of three categories for purposes of their status: the licensee, the invitee and the trespasser. Two of these visitors are welcome and one is not.
A licensee is a social guest, more or less. This person has entered your home with your permission. This permission, however, implies that you are not only aware of any danger to your guest’s well-being, but that you have a duty to warn this person of known dangers or take steps to make the condition reasonably safe. A licensee can be a visiting friend or family member, but can also be a stranger who comes to the property for his or her own purpose.
An invitee can be someone like your contractor. This is the category to bear in mind when you are having work done on your home. The invitation in this case has a commercial or business purpose. We have left the basic social graces and hospitality behind and have entered a much more professional environment. It may be your home, but you have entered into a contract that has temporarily transformed it into a workplace. In this situation, you have a duty to correct and repair known dangers, and you have a duty to reasonably inspection for unknown dangers. Bear this in mind before a contractor comes to your premises.
Common sense rules when it comes to trespassers. A trespasser is someone who does not have permission to be on your property. You are not responsible for the safety of trespassers, but you cannot take steps to intentionally injure trespassers.
Knowledge of home repair and premises liability is what overcomes the whole “control paradox.” Does this mean you have to delay that repair indefinitely while you Google yourself into a coma? Of course not.
For more information regarding premises liability and the duty owed to contractors who perform work at your home, contact the Law Office of H. Benjamin Sharlin LLC for a free consultation. The Law Office of H. Benjamin Sharlin LLC is owned and operated by H. Benjamin Sharlin and serves all of Mercer County, New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Mr. Sharlin is a bilingual Spanish-speaking attorney who vigorously represents the interests of all his clients.
Please be advised that this blog is for informational purposes only, is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.
The Law Office of H. Benjamin Sharlin LLC
is owned and operated by H. Benjamin Sharlin and serves all of Mercer County, New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Mr. Sharlin is a bilingual Spanish-speaking attorney who vigorously represents the interests of all his clients.
Call (609) 585-0606 or click the button below to schedule an appointment