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Pop Quiz: Do You Know Who’s Liable if Your Subcontractor Gets Injured on the Job?

Posted on February 13, 2018

Pop Quiz: Do You Know Who's Liable if Your Subcontractor Gets Injured on the Job?

If your company has worker’s compensation and hires out subcontractors – who are not covered by that necessary coverage – who’s responsible for injuries sustained by a subcontractor? In some cases, it may be you. In others, it may be the homeowner. In other cases, the worker themselves may be responsible. Read on to learn more about the various scenarios.

Can the homeowner be sued if a subcontractor is injured on their property?

The short answer is: It depends. First, it depends on the contractor’s workers’ comp insurance, since it would be the first option if there’s any injury. If there is worker’s comp insurance, then it should cover the medical expenses of the worker as well as back wages. On average, an insurance company will make a six-figure payout for this type of claim and the worker will give up their right to sue the employer.

In almost all cases, if a contractor is licensed, he’s going to have worker’s comp. Why? Because in states that have licensing requirements, proof or workers’ comp is one of the requirements to both get and maintain that license. For example, California requires workers’ comp coverage to have an active license issued, to have an inactive license reactivated, or to maintain an already renewed license – unless the company or person getting the license doesn’t employ anyone in accordance with our workers’ compensation laws.

Note that California has some of the toughest licensing and insurance requirements.

More about subcontractors

Now, let’s move on to what happens with subcontractors. Every state in the United States, with the exception of Texas, requires that any contractor that has one or more employees has worker’s compensation. There is an exception for sole proprietors. However, if an independent contractor that installs has even one employee, then they’re not excepted.

When it comes to roofing, subcontracting crews are almost always in use. It’s also true that many subcontractors don’t have workers’ comp. Why? Because the premiums are so high. As a result, the subs turn in subcontract out their labor. When the bottom line is reached, every single person on the roof will likely have declared themselves a sole proprietor who has no employees, which makes them all exempt from workers’ comp laws – which means they’re not likely to have insurance.

It’s your job to keep your subcontractors safe or you could be putting the homeowner at risk

The bottom line is that if you don’t have the right construction supplies, including safety supplies, and there’s an accident amongst your crew, it’s entirely possible that the homeowner will be the one who has to pay. This is an issue that’s been fought in the courts forever and there is still not clear answer. The only thing that’s clear is that having a subcontractor sue a client is not likely to be good for business. Work with a construction supply company that offers high quality tools, make sure you are following proper protocol, and keep your staff safe.

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