Throughout the New Year, you might have a number of people who come to your house to work on various projects. It might be handymen working on a kitchen remodel, a housekeeper cleaning your home for a party, or landscapers working on beautifying your outdoors.
When you invite contract workers to tend to your home, you are also taking on the risk that the worker could be seriously injured on your property. In some cases, the injured party might even file a premises liability lawsuit against you, the homeowner. Here’s what you need to know about what to do if a worker is injured on your property.
First, How to Protect Yourself as a Homeowner
When you let a hired worker get to work, you assume they know what they’re doing and that they enact proper safety measures when doing work at your home. You as a homeowner, however, have the duty to provide a reasonably safe place to work for your contracted employees. Otherwise, the other party may claim that an accident was caused by your negligence, which could mean you lose a lawsuit filed against you in court.
Homeowners must create a safe working environment for hired workers by:
- Informing hired workers of any hazards they should be aware of, like a broken stair rail or uneven carpeting
- Removing hazards if possible
- Alerting workers of any new hazards that are created by the homeowner
Any hazards that are not obvious to workers must be pointed out. To be on the safe side, giving a complete and thorough rundown of what to expect from a job site is in the homeowner’s best interest.
To boost your protection, take extra steps like these to make sure your home is safe to work in:
- Use non-slip rugs and flooring in areas that might get wet and slippery, like kitchens and bathrooms
- Remove any object someone might trip on, like children’s toys or wires
- Make sure all steps and stairs have adequate handrails and lighting
- Fix any uneven flooring, including carpet, sidewalks and pathways
- Remove fire hazards like lit candles
- Keep guests away from hazardous areas like a hot stove if you’re using your home while work is being done
Your home should be clean, clutter-free and well-lit while work is being done on it. Just because you’re familiar with certain issues, do not assume those working in or on your home are.
What Should a Homeowner Do During a Project?
Once a project is underway, a homeowner who closely and consistently monitors the project may unwittingly take on extra responsibility for safety. For example, if a homeowner gives instructions to a hired worker for how they should perform their job, if the hired worker obliges and is injured, the injured party could claim it was the homeowner’s fault because of the directions they gave.
In addition to pointing out hazards and avoiding giving safety instructions to workers, homeowners should also make sure the workers who are doing work on their homes are covered by policies of general liability insurance. Homeowners should also have this insurance in place, in the form of homeowner’s insurance. If the person a homeowner is hiring brings workers with them, the contractor should have workers’ compensation in place for those workers in case they are injured.
Steps to Take After a Contract Worker Accident
If you’ve taken the above steps to protect yourself and a worker is still injured at your home, make sure they have access to medical treatment if they need it. Do not touch the injured party or attempt to move them, since they can claim you exacerbated their injury.
You may choose to contact emergency medical services for a serious injury. If emergency medical treatment is not necessary, you may want to contact police anyway so that both you, the homeowner, and the injured party can make statements for a police report.
It’s in your best interest to start gathering evidence at the accident scene. Take photos of the injury, and take photos of the area where the injury occurred to show details of the property’s condition.
Note anything you hear that might implicate the injured’s role in the accident. For example, if the injured party admits they performed a task incorrectly before the accident, tell that to the police officer at the scene, or write down the statement for future reference. Never admit guilt yourself.
Contact your insurance agent to get guidance on how to handle what happened. Doing this as soon as possible can help you stay protected. If the injured party is compensated quickly, this may help you as the homeowner to avoid a lawsuit.
What to Do If a Worker at Your Home Injures You
While you’re expected to create a safe environment for workers at your home, they should also make sure you are safe when they’ve left your home. They should inform you of all hazards they’re leaving, so that you don’t get injured when they’re gone. If you experience a serious injury due to the negligence of workers you have hired, use the same steps described above to document the scene. Get medical treatment, since sometimes injury symptoms are not immediately apparent.
If a worker’s negligence caused your serious injury, contact a Phoenix personal injury lawyer for a free consultation for your case. You may be entitled to compensation because another party put you and your livelihood in danger.