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Question DetailsAsked on 6/26/2012

In the event an injury occurs to a roofer and his company is under insured, is the home owner liable

Liability insurance and workman comp is supposed to be carried by a contractor or sub-contractor. However, in the event the contractor and/or sub-contractor is not insured or is under-insured, is the home owner subject to lawsuits for an injury sustained by a worker and would the home owner considered culpable in a court of law. Also, to what extent can the home owner be held liable for an injury that incapacitates a worker requiring long term medical care.

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3 Answers


Every state has different laws governing contractors and for legal advise you should consult an attorney. Where is it written they are suposed to have insurance? The contract between them and you? I would guess.Did you inspect the contractors insurance binder? What was the limit of the policy and what was it for? (I have seen roofers carry a siding insurance policy and misrepresent this to homeowners and general contractors as proof they indeed have the necesary insurance). We had a case in Nebraska where a sub of a sub of a reputable roofing contractor was Severely injured and the judgement went against the homeowners because the intermediate sub contractor could not be found and sued to get a clear line to the general contractor with the deep pockets ie workmans comp insurance. This case saw the homeowner liable for four million dollar judgement (their homeowners policy paid one million) and they were liable for the rest of their working lives to pay and pay and pay. So what is your liabilty? My opinion, it can be the total amount because my homeowners insurance carrier says,you hire contractor without insurance,"We are not liable". So check with your insurance agent for coverage & if you have assets it is wise to add a rider for at least one million in liabilty or better yet two.

Jim Casper

Gutter Cover & Gutter Contractor


Answered 8 years ago by jccasper


Laws vary area to area, but the short answer is most likely yes, the property owner will be liable.

This is why it is of the utmost importance to ONLY hire insured contractors. Insist on seeing copies of their certificates of insurance. Look at the seperate policies, since WC and GL are different and unique. Call the broker listed on the certificate. Ask to be named as a certificate holder on the policies.

It doesn't make sense to risk your property on a low price contractor.

Having said that once lawyers get involved, everyone gets sued. But there is something called subrogration. Basically meaning the subs insurance gets attacked first, then the general contractors, then the home owners. This is in the event that compensation exceeds policy limits. That's another thing to check policy limits. Sure you can have WC, but with a (let's say) $25,000 policy limit it's meaningless. A sneeze in the hospital will cost $5,000, let a lone a broken arm or a broken back could cost hundreds of thousands. A half million WC is failr common. a quarter million would be the minimum I would safely operate under as a professional contractor.

My advice is talk to your insurance agent and your lawer and ask these questions.

If you hire someone uninsured to work on your property you get what you deserve!


Answered 8 years ago by ReliableAmericanRoof


For readers not in the trades, about the ReliableAmericanRoofing comment:

WC is Workers Compensation coverage, generally required by law for all employees, but in most or all states CANNOT include coverage on the owner (including partners) to prevent owners intentionally getting insurance then faking an injury. (Not that workers don't do that too, so the prohibition makes no sense). Covers injury to employees - in some states by WC injury insurance from private companies, in others through a state Worker's Compensation fund.

The GL he is talking about is General Liability - the liability insurance carried by the contractor to protect his company against claims. may be a separate policy or part of a General/Comprehensive or Inland Marine or Marine Operations policy depending on his carrier and type of work he does.

Other insurance the contractor may have (individually or as part of a general/wrapup policy) include excess liability, job completion, Comprehensive (against storms, theft, vandalism, etc which damage the project materials or completed or in-progress work), vehicle, boat, aircraft, Operations, Cyber, etc - but those directly protect HIS company, not the client though of course if he has coverage that reduces the risk of the claim going against the homeowner.

Note none of these protects the homeowner directly against claims - protects the client only in that any claim against the contractor and his insurance presumably reduces the potential claim against the homeowner. Also, in many states, if a worker chooses (in some state no choice) to claim Worker's Compensation, he cannot then also sue employer or others for the same injury unless there was willful negligence.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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