Employee or Independent Contractor?

Who Is Responsible When a Private Contractor Is Injured at Your Place of Business?

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From the Houston Chronicle, Patrick Gleeson discusses the potential liability you may have for an injured worker even if you hire an independent contractor.  Patrick writes:

Independent Contractor

If you hire someone to perform a job at your place of business — tree trimming, for example — and they have a valid contractor’s license, the contractor may be legally responsible for his worker’s injuries. It is important, when hiring an independent contractor, to determine that they have a current contractor’s license. Their claim to have a license does not absolve you from responsibility.

Independent Contractor’s Insurance

Even if your contractor has a current contractor’s license, you may still be held responsible for injuries to the contractor or someone he employs if the contractor does not carry insurance that covers bodily injuries and workers’ compensation for lost wages. To ensure that you are fully protected, your contractor’s insurance should also cover property damage and bodily injury the contractor or his workers may cause you.

Direction of Court Decisions

A 2003 California State Supreme Court decision further complicates the responsibility for injured workers hired by the contractor. In “Fernandez vs. Lawson,” the court considered the claim of a worker injured while employed by a roofing contractor. The contractor had given the owner a business card that had what he claimed was his contractor’s license number on it. He also claimed to have current insurance, and presented an expired insurance certificate, noting that he would bring the current certificate the following day. That same day, however, the worker was injured. An appeals court determined that the owner, not the purported contractor, was responsible. The California Supreme Court reversed the decision, but only because the worker had worked on site less than 53 hours. Attorney Peter N. Brewer notes that is the responsibility of owner of business or residence to determine that the contractor is licensed and carries adequate insurance.

Read  the full story at Who Is Responsible When a Private Contractor Is Injured at Your Place of Business? 

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