Worker broke his foot on our what? - Posted by Jen-LA

Posted by Laure on June 21, 2000 at 22:40:10:


Worker broke his foot on our property…now what? - Posted by Jen-LA

Posted by Jen-LA on June 21, 2000 at 17:33:48:

Hey everyone-

Friday one of the workers on our latest rehab fell off a ladder or something and broke his foot (not bad though). Now, he is working FOR the contractor we use. We just found this out today, and also just found out that what we THOUGHT was liability insurance over workers on the property was actually just for passers-by, etc. The worker’s liability is $2500 a year!

I am somewhat irked that our insurance company is acting mystified that we didn’t have this particular insurance coverage (ummm, wouldn’t they be the ones to INFORM us in the first place of the NEED for this when we got insurance on the house and told them our intentions with it- I am NOT an insurance agent)-

At any rate, our agent is acting like we could be responsible for this guy’s wages for the rest of his life if it ever got really nasty- and the contractor doesn’t carry worker’s comp (great) but is the most honest man I’ve met so far as contractors go, and has already mentioned that he’ll have to just pay for the guy’s medical bills ( if he didn’t go to a charity hospital like we’re all hoping).

Nobody’s even talked to the worker since friday, and he is not the type to sue and get all nasty and greedy (I tend to get to be friends with these guys- and he was my favorite)
so I’m not THAT worried about this, I just don’t really know what exactly COULD happen and was wondering if any of you have any experience with this. Thank God my father is an attorney- but I don’t like to ask him about stuff like this until I have to cause he just worries and tells me to stop doing this real estate stuff that it’s too risky! Ha!

Any advice would be welcomed at this point-

by the way, I’m in Louisiana so I don’t know if the laws are any different ( they usually are)

AAaaalrighty people, thanks for the responses…I think - Posted by Jen-LA

Posted by Jen-LA on June 22, 2000 at 11:11:52:

They were ALL helpful in their own little ways, just some more than others…

Anyway, I am happy to report that our contractor will be paying his worker’s salary until he gets back on his feet (no pun intended) and the guy was covered under his mother’s health insurance still.

I will be more attentive in the future to EXACTLY what our insurance covers. We thought we knew, and didn’t- which can cause you problems as we all know. Like Laure said though- it’s REALLY annoying to have to run around behind all of these “professionals” (agents, brokers what have you) and make sure what they said was really what they said, and then, you still don’t know for sure! But, that’s just the world we live in. I am starting to understand what Kiyosaki means when he says to employ people smarter than you.

I also now realize that our contractor is so DARN ( I got censored!) cheap and is used by everyone in town because he doesn’t carry worker’s comp. It’s a big risk, but he says in 40 years, this is the first broken bone he’s had! I’m starting to think the evil nursery guy behind the house has put some kind of voodoo curse on us…

:wink: Jen

Re: Worker broke his foot on our property…now what? - Posted by Rob FL

Posted by Rob FL on June 22, 2000 at 08:05:12:

Insurance companies don’t you love them. Here is what I would do (for whatever that is worth).

  1. Try to work things out with this fellow. The last thing you want is a lawsuit.

  2. Get with your father attorney and make sure all the paperwork with your corporation is solid. All the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. The last thing you want is for them to pierce the corporate veil. And of course any good attorney who files a lawsuit against you will try and pierce the veil to go after your personal assets.

Re: Worker broke his foot on our property…now what? - Posted by Ben (FL)

Posted by Ben (FL) on June 22, 2000 at 07:00:16:


Sorry I’m in a rush and didn’t have time to catch all the other posts. Maybe someone’s already replied this way.

Anyway, my wife just quit her job as an attorney for an insurance defence firm. From what she says, everything you ever heard about insurance companies is true, and worse. They really do go out of their way NOT to pay a claim. She worked on one case where she repeatedly asked the claims adjuster for the insurer she was working for to settle. The answer was “We don’t settle claims.” That company paid thousands of dollars in legal fees to avoid paying the offered settlement amount of…$100 - yes that’s one hundred dollars.
At first, when we started REI we made sure we only hired licensed and insured workers. Then, after working for this firm awhile, she learned that anything that could happen to a worker would be covered under the hazard liability insurance - the same as if your dog bit someone else and they sued, the ceiling fell and cracked yur head open, or a neighbor boy fell out of a tree in your yard.
Bottom line, the claims adjuster’s job is to not pay the claim, literally. Read your policy. All of it. And be very careful if their attorney calls you. Even though, ethically, since you are the insured party you are their client too, they will scr$w you in favor of their paying client, the insurance company, every time.
Read the policy.

Only one good answer, Thanks HR. I was hoping… - Posted by Paul_NY

Posted by Paul_NY on June 22, 2000 at 02:05:54:

…that one of these posts would give the specifics about documentation required FROM the contractor prior to the execution of the work. Primarily, how to check out if the contractor is covered if he or his helpers gets hurt on my property.

I have to always assume, if it is a friend or not, that any injury on my property will somehow lead back to me.

With ambulance chasing lawyers advertising on buses, back cover of telephone books and during the commerical breaks of Jerry Springer, I tend to get a little concerned.

After seeing all the responses to the original post prior to read any of them, I though there would be a multitude of answers to work with. There really wasn’t much here worth reading.

Re: Worker broke his foot on our property…now what? - Posted by t jent

Posted by t jent on June 22, 2000 at 01:21:56:

Frankly, I’m not sure you have a problem. Generally, there are two ways a person may be subect to liability in a job-related injury situation like yours. One is through NEGLIGENCE, and the other is through WORKER’S COMPENSATION. I am in CA so only familiar with our Worker’s comp system, but I’m guessing yours similar.

For you to be negligent means you had to have somehow caused this guy’s injury through your own unreasonable carelessness. Based on the limited facts you gave it doesn’t sound like this is what happened. Apparently, he just fell off his ladder in the normal course of doing his job. That’s a risk inherent to the work he was doing, and if negligence was involved it was probably his own.

As for workers comp, it has nothing to do with negligence of the employer. It’s essentially an insurance system that shifts the risk of injuries to the employer, who is benifiting from the worker’s labor and more able to absorb the cost. The system is based on the principle that erstwhile productive workers should not simply be disposed of and replaced like broken parts when disabled on the job, but instead guaranteed medical care and continued income or rehabilitation.

Now bear in mind that worker’s comp cover’s EMPLOYEES. Worker’s comp law makes a key distinction between employees and INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR’S. The law sets forth a laundry list of various factors used to determine when someone is an employee and when an independent contractor. The main idea, however, is determining whether you simply hire someone to complete a specific task and more or less allow them to decide how to accomplish the result, like when you hire a plumber to unclog your drain (Independent contractor), or whether you direct and control their work activity sort of like an office worker is overlorded by their boss (employee).

People who do construction and maintenance type jobs are nearly always funtioning as independent contractors. And furthermore if, as you say, this individual was not even hired by you, but by your main contractor, then there is all the more reason to hold that he is not your “employee.”

Again, the facts you gave are far too incomplete to analyze the situation adequately. The point is, one is by no means automatically responsible just because someone happens to be on your property or doing a job for you when injuy occurs.

This is not legal advice. Do consult an attorney for legal advice.

Re: Worker broke his foot on our property…now what? - Posted by Laure

Posted by Laure on June 21, 2000 at 22:37:55:

I got lucky last summer. I had a Professional Taper finishing some new skylights and his step stool broke. It sent him flying into the air, and he landed on the side of the bathtub with his shoulder ! He called me from the floor to come pick him up and take him to the hospital. I was scared to death. He didn’t sue, or even ask me for medical bills. He screwed up his shoulder too ! Two days later, he was teaching me how to do knock down texture on my walls so the job could be finished !

I know I got lucky. But there are “reasonable” people out there. Not everyone is “sue Happy”. Don’t lose sleep over this yet.

Laure :slight_smile:

Re: Worker broke his foot on our property…now what? - Posted by Laure

Posted by Laure on June 21, 2000 at 22:32:18:

I am finding the same thing with all “professionals”. If you don’t ask the the “right question, the right way”, why then it’s my fault for not having the answer !

IRKS ME BIG TIME ! Especially having a hard time with my CPA and my Attorney. They just call it “a mis-understanding” Oh forget the part about it costing me 20,000.00 in tax ! … Don’t even get me started !

Laure :frowning:

Re: Great.question… - Posted by Rich

Posted by Rich on June 21, 2000 at 22:22:48:


Jen, I’m real interested in your response… - Posted by HR

Posted by HR on June 21, 2000 at 21:28:28:

Hi Jen,

I too am in Louisiana (New Orleans). I’m very interested in your topic, because it is one I fear.

Most of the subs I use don’t have workman’s comp. I looked into it and decided not to pay it because of the brutal rates. Since your dad is an attorney, maybe you can check some things out.

  1. Is your corp doing the rehab? Can a worker get thru a corp to you personally for a worker’s comp claim? I fear they can.

  2. why are you trusting your insurance agent? They should be doing all kinds of things, but they don’t. The frustrating thing is when you think you are getting one thing while paying for another; I know the feeling. Get a good agent and run multiple scenarios by them to make sure you are covered. I just called mine today (he also is a former lawyer) to make sure the burglar bars in one rental didn’t disqualify my new policy. Turns out my renting to section 8 tenants would have, if we went with one carrier he suggested. It pays to take these folks out to lunch and bug them to death about multiple worst case scenarios.

  3. Jen, you are fooling yourself into trouble. Don’t think for a minute these subs like you or care about you in the least. Are you going to be there for them? If this guy loses his income for awhile, or needs to be in the hospital, will you be with him? Hardly. None of us would. Except his family. Don’t think for a minute these guys like or care about you. They are pleasant because it makes the work easier (and maybe allows them to manipulate you). Hiring subs is by nature a conflictual biz: it’s your needs versus their needs. Being “nice” to the subs (or the tenants) is just a more subtle form of avoidance, avoiding the inherently uncomfortable nature of the negotiating and power dynamic.

I’m not saying be mean. Or nasty. Or discourteous. Be professional: say what you mean and mean what you say. This guy ain’t the suing type? Yea, threaten his livelihood or his families and watch how he runs towards the arms of that compassionate attorney. You are fooling yourself.

This scenario would keep me up all night long. I don’t think it’s something to joke about. While this is a topic for another post, this isn’t a topic the rehab gurus cover (you mean there may be a deficiency in their system? Lordy sakes alive!). Use your dad. I would. This could get serious. And ugly. Keep us posted.


very funny jen! you tell em! - Posted by marleeka

Posted by marleeka on June 21, 2000 at 20:09:22:

good going, girl!

Break his other foot, and he won’t have a leg to stand on - Posted by NJDave

Posted by NJDave on June 21, 2000 at 18:20:25:

sorry, had to sneak this one in.

Re: Only one good answer, Thanks HR. I was hoping… - Posted by chris

Posted by chris on June 22, 2000 at 10:33:44:

Search your state statutes. Your state would have licensing information for you to verify. For example, in Florida the statutes for contractors are under Title XXXII Chapter 489. It would be illegal for the contractor not to have workers’ compensation coverage. Have them produce the documents.

Section 12 of this contract would be a basic idea of what you would have:

To run a check on a contractor here is an option for a fee:
They will also do a contract review for you.

Other info readable for free on the web detailing precautions to take when selecting a contractor:


hmmm… - Posted by Laure

Posted by Laure on June 22, 2000 at 07:29:59:

Well, that’s just the way the ball bounces.
Sorry to have wasted your time!

You get them to sign a statement that says,

  1. They are an independant contractor.
  2. They accept responsibility for all accidents at your site.
  3. They agree to perform in a workmanlike manner.

If there is negligence… like a bare wire hanging somewhere, I would imagine, that no matter what he signed… your butt is hanging out waiting for a suit.

By the way. remarks like you just made are not necessary. Makes you sound like a spoiled little child.

Laure :slight_smile:

Re: Worker broke his foot on our property…now what? - Posted by JohnBoy

Posted by JohnBoy on June 21, 2000 at 23:01:11:

Hi Laure! :slight_smile:

Hey, the next time your attorney calls it, “a mis-understanding”, you say, oh, you mean like, malpractice??? LOL

Bruce Williams summed it up nicely… - Posted by SusanL.–FL

Posted by SusanL.–FL on June 22, 2000 at 11:11:47:

…one night (on his radio show) when he relayed a story about suing his friend over something that happened (or didn’t happen) in a business deal.

He told the guy, ‘NOTHING personal; this is just business’.

GREAT post, HR! Excellent topic, too! Something like this (subject matter) shouldn’t be taken lightly and should be a ‘wake up call’ for all of us – to BE prepared. Make sure we have enough of the right type of coverage.

You’re right, HR. If his livelihood is threatened, he won’t be a 'good ‘ole boy’ for long. You can be sure of that!

C-ya. Susan

What does this have to do with “Broken Feet” - Posted by AJ

Posted by AJ on June 21, 2000 at 21:38:56:

Just wondering there HR?

Can’t you read!


Re: Break his other foot, and he won’t have a leg to stand on - Posted by charley

Posted by charley on June 22, 2000 at 06:57:15:

i just wish this hadn’t turned into a comic strip at everyone else’s expense. can we just supply legitimate answers without all the extra angles? it will save everyone a lot of time. thanks and i enjoy reading the relevant answers, because one day they all will pertain to my situation. have a good one.

Absolutely hilarious response, NJDave! - Posted by RobertR CO

Posted by RobertR CO on June 21, 2000 at 19:46:58:

Although if I were Jen-LA, I might not be laughing.