Is your contractor lying about workplace injuries?

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As a responsible homeowner, you always make an effort to address adverse issues professionally. Therefore, injuries to laborers may cause you consternation and/or the need to show care and compassion. The fact is, injuries can and do often occur on construction jobs. The very serious injuries are the ones that a bad contractor may exploit to your detriment. But did you know that your contractor may be lying about a workplace injury or perhaps exaggerating its severity? There are a variety of reasons for a bad contractor to con you this way. It could be a standard M.O. for him as he moves from job to job (this is one of the hallmarks of a predatory contractor). Or he could be trying to get out of completing your job because it gives him a way out of a job where there is acrimony between you and him over the job’s progress, execution, cost, etc.

Most licensed contractors and have workers’ compensation insurance, but if you employed a small-time contractor or handyman, then chances are they aren’t insured for such an event. This leaves an open door for shenanigans. As a homeowner, you must make sure that you don’t conceal any hazards on your premises that can be exploited by your contractor/handyman, and make reasonable efforts to remedy those hazards if they exist at all. In California, there have been high court rulings (including a recent August ruling by the California Supreme Court overturning the California Court of Appeals) that have protected the homeowner from any claims of liability if the hazardous conditions cannot be reasonably repaired. But a homeowner in your state may not necessarily enjoy the same protections. This is why it makes sense for you to take precautions so that no workplace injury can be blamed on you for something you could have easily done. Make sure you’re the workplace area is:

  • well-lit; this means making sure that window shades are up (unless doing so interferes with the job being done) and/or turning on all available lights.
  • does not have trash or other objects on the floor because that could result in slip and fall injuries that the general contractor is not responsible for. Of course, make sure that the floor where workers regularly walk is not wet.
  • free from loud music because it could distract the workers as they work or speak to one another, causing confusion, which could inevitably lead to injury.
  • free from hanging objects such as wires, cables, plant vines or other long things that could obstruct the path of workers.
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