A Contractor Was Injured on My Property! Am I Responsible?


You have embarked on a home renovation project and are excited about the outcome. You expect the ROI to increase. For example, if you’re doing a minor kitchen remodel, your ROI will be an average of 81.1%, per the Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value report. Then a contractor gets injured on your property. Are you responsible? Can they sue you under personal injury law? This article seeks to provide answers to these questions.

Premise Liability and Duty of Care

Premise liability is a concept in the law that holds businesses and homeowners responsible for the safety of anyone who passes through the property. This responsibility varies in degree depending on the category of premise entrant. There are three categories: trespassers, invitees, and licensees. A contractor on your premises falls under ‘invitees,’ which means you expect them on your premises. Your duty of care is four-fold.

  • You must search your property for potential hazards
  • You must fix the hazards by doing repairs
  • You must warn entrants of unobvious hazards
  • You must not cause injury willfully

If you’ve failed either of the duties above, you may be liable for any injuries incurred by a contractor while on your premises. For example, inviting a contractor to fix your cabinets while fully aware of exposed wires. You’d be liable for personal injury if the contractor is electrocuted while working.

Exercised Control or Not?

The other factor determining if you’re liable for a contractor’s injuries is your level of involvement in the project. As a homeowner, there’re two most probable options: exercising control or withdrawing control. The more control you have over a project, the more liable you are for injuries.

It’s reasonable that you’d want to have control over your home project; after all, you’re investing both your finances and emotions. However, you may be more liable if a worker gets injured. For example, suppose you directly and specifically ask a worker to work on a heater on your roof, and they fall because of a rotten roof. In that case, you’d be liable because of your level of control and not informing the worker of possible hazards.

Your reliability will be less if you hand over control to the contracting firm. According to Houzz, design-build firms have one expert team that manages the whole project from top to bottom. The lead contractor ensures the safety of workers and takes the heftier burden of liability. Therefore, you have less liability for their injuries.

How to Protect Yourself in the Future

An attorney may help you understand the extent of liability, while home insurance coverage covers any claims on injuries caused by pure accidents. But how do you protect yourself from personal injury claims when you hire a contractor? Here are four ways.

  • Confirm Coverage for All Contractors and Workers: Before any work commences, confirm the contractor is licensed and has up-to-date insurance coverage
  • Reduce Control Over the Project: Work with the lead contractor before the project commences, go over the plan, then allow them to direct the projects daily, then report to you
  • Inform Contractors about Potential Hazards: Search and note any hazards in your compound, including rotten wood, loose hinges, and joints, then inform the contractors. Remember that pinched or crushed section joints are the leading cause of garage door injuries, accounting for 59.5% of the injuries, according to the University of Illinois. Falling doors come second at 16.5%, and someone working on a door follows at 12.7%.

As a homeowner, you have a certain degree of responsibility to a contractor. You can reduce the burden of responsibility when you exercise less control over the project and inform contractors of potential hazards on your premises. Of course, it’d be best to talk with a lawyer to determine the extent of liability if a contractor gets injured on your premises. We hope your project ends well!