Scheduling home repairs should not lead to a lawsuit against you for a serious property-related accident. Unfortunately, worker injuries happen every year in homes in Florida. Understanding if and when a handyman’s damages could be your legal responsibility can help you know what to expect after an accident on your property. As the homeowner, you or your insurance company may have to pay an injured worker for his or her damages depending on the situation.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
If a handyman suffers an injury on your property, you may assume he or she will be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. While most employees in Florida have this opportunity, handymen sometimes do not. Many construction workers, roofers, repairmen, electricians, painters and other home service workers are independent contractors, not employees of a company. If the handyman that suffered an injury on your property was an independent contractor, he or she may not be eligible for workers’ compensation.
If, however, the handyman was an employee at a contracting company, that enterprise’s insurance may cover the injured person’s damages. Even though the person was working in your private home, he or she may be eligible for workers’ compensation if technically working for a company, general contractor, subcontractor or agency. In these cases, you may not be liable for damages. Instead, the handyman’s employer will pay for damages through a workers’ compensation claim.
Hiring a licensed contractor that works for a trusted company in your area could help you limit your personal liability for handyman injuries. A licensed contractor will carry insurance to cover damages in the event of an injury on the job, such as a fall or structural collapse. If you hire an unlicensed contractor or independent handyman, however, you may technically be the employer. In that case, you could be financially liable if the handyman suffers an injury.
Homeowner Liability for Handymen Injuries
Even if a worker was an employee and had a license, you could be liable for his or her injuries on your property if you negligently caused or contributed to the accident. The victim could decide to bring an injury claim against you on top of filing for workers’ compensation. Your homeowners insurance company may have to pay the contractor’s damages if he or she can prove you were at fault by negligently or intentionally breaching one of your many duties as a property owner.
- Inspecting your property for hazards
- Repairing visible defects that could put a worker at risk
- Clearing obstacles from walkways
- Fixing an uneven sidewalk
- Warning workers about known risks
- Putting dogs and other pets away
- Disclosing information about health hazards such as mold or asbestos
- Repairing a broken staircase railing
If a reasonable and prudent homeowner would have repaired the hazard before welcoming the handyman to the property, but you failed to do so, you could be liable for a resultant accident and victim’s injuries. The handyman will have to prove that you breached a duty of care and this caused his or her injuries to recover damages from your insurance company.
Who Pays If You Are Liable?
In most cases, you will not have to pay out of pocket for a handyman’s damages. Instead, your homeowners insurance company will cover the bill. In general, your med-pay coverage will pay for the handyman’s medical expenses up to your policy’s limit. Your liability coverage will pay if the handyman files a lawsuit against you. The average liability coverage limit ranges from $100,000 to $300,000. A premises liability lawyer can make sure you’re covered adequately enough.
Your insurance company may refute liability for the handyman’s injuries in certain situations. If you intentionally caused the handyman’s injuries, for example, your insurance company will most likely deny liability. The same is true if the injuries happened in an auto accident, while the handyman was committing a crime or if the handyman was a member of the household. Speak to your insurance provider after an accident during repairs to your home for information about your specific case.