According to experts, American homes employ over 2 million domestic workers for a myriad of jobs, ranging from home repairs and landscape services to housekeeping and childcare. It is also true that most of these domestic workers suffer injuries while on the job. The most common ones are trips and falls, but such damages also correlate with exhaustion, use of machinery, and more.
Today, we will learn more about who is to blame if a domestic worker – let’s say your lawn and landscape technician – gets hurt on your property.
What to Know about Hiring Landscaping Technicians
With all the busy lives we live, caring for our lawns and landscapes is time-consuming and exhausting. If you do not know to differentiate between liquid and granular fertilizers or how to aerate the soil in autumn, you need professionals to maintain your lawn and landscape green and thriving.
The question is – besides how much do such services cost – do you hire a lawn company or an independent landscaping contractor?
The Issue of Workers’ Insurance and Liability
Most homeowners learn too late about the potential liabilities associated with hiring a landscaping professional, as either an independent contractor or a local company. Most lawn & landscape companies carry insurance policies for their workers to cover them in case they suffer injuries on a client’s property.
However, no matter how many licenses and policies the company brags about having, you, as a homeowner, need to make sure. Sometimes, it happens that companies forget to renew the policies, actually leaving their technicians uninsured and the homeowners liable for the workers’ accidents and injuries.
In an ideal working and business environment, any landscaping professional working on your lawn relies on the workers’ compensation insurance to cover for medical bills or wage losses in case they experienced accidents or injuries while on your premises.
What About Your Homeowners’ Insurance?
Most homeowners prefer hiring independent contractors (insured or not), considering that their standard homeowners’ insurance will cover the possible injuries domestic workers suffer on their properties. However, there is always a catch.
Any homeworker that you hire directly to provide services in your house or on your property is your employee. If you, somehow, are negligent or reckless in providing that worker a safe working environment, for instance, you can be liable for the worker’s injuries. Depending on where you live, your state’s tort laws will determine the nature and extent of your liability.
In most cases, a workers’ compensation claim is usually the conventional and proper remedy for injuries that occurred on the job. However, homeowners have the responsibility to get all the information they need regarding personal injury claims versus workers’ compensation claims.
In case you have questions or do not know how to proceed with hiring an independent contractor or a company for your landscaping projects, get answers from personal injury attorneys here. You have to realize that many states exclude certain classes of workers from eligibility for workers’ compensation (undocumented workers, domestic workers, temporary workers, etc.). Hence, an attorney is your best shot to prevent any liability claims you might encounter when you hire someone to work on your property.
To give you a clearer picture of the matter, let’s consider the following situations:
- If an uninsured individual is mowing your lawn, and a rock flies through the air and injures that person or breaks your neighbor’s window, your homeowners’ insurance policy can cover you.
- However, if you fail to remove the ice on your property and the individual pruning your trees in winter falls and breaks some bones, you might have to pay up because you failed to provide a safe working environment to your employee.
The best way to go about hiring people to do house or yard work is to take the following steps:
- Revisit your homeowners’ insurance policy. It differs from state to state and across insurance companies. Understand what it covers and where you are liable for workers’ injuries. You may want to upgrade it or raise its limits.
- When you hire a person for a job on your property, discuss that individual’s insurance, workers’ comp, and other legal matters. The safest way to go about this is to consult with a personal liability claims attorney to make the best choice.
- If you want to hire a licensed landscaping company, ask for up-to-date compensation insurance policies and general liability insurance. It is the safest way to avoid lawsuits.
As a homeowner, you owe a duty of care to anybody that crosses your threshold: family, friends, visitors, independent contractors that mow your lawn, the babysitter of your child, or the crew that fixes your roof and cleans your gutters.
For this reason, reviewing your homeowners’ insurance policies, approaching workers’ compensation and liability claims in an assertive, pro-active manner is the right thing to do, even if most contractors carry their insurance.