We depend on things like the roof over our head, our plumbing systems, our heating and cooling, and our electrical grid to make life comfortable and enjoyable. So when something goes wrong, it’s not uncommon for the average person to need to hire a professional to take care of the issue. Home service technicians are some of the unsung heroes that make life better for everyone, and hiring one is about as normal of a part of homeownership as interest on a mortgage loan.
However, did you know that something as simple as hiring a plumber or electrician to come to your home could put you at risk of a serious lawsuit? It’s true. Under Florida’s premises liability law, home service providers are guests who have been expressly invited to come to your property, and that means you legally owe them the highest standard of care for their safety. Thus, if they are injured while on your property, you could be on the hook for the damages they have sustained.
This is somewhat surprising to a number of people. After all, you may not even be aware of a hazard that exists. For example, if you hire a roofer to come out and conduct an inspection and they step on a weak point on your roof, falling through to the attic, you may not even have known that the roof was in such a poor condition. However, since your home is your property, you’re required to know its condition, and failing to properly take care of one of these unseen hazards or properly indicate its presence does make you liable for the damages that the hazard can cause.
Here are a few other examples of ways you could be liable for an injury:
- A plumber comes to fix a leaky pipe and doesn’t see a puddle of water on a clean floor, causing them to slip and hit their head on the ground.
- A gardener mowing your lawn doesn’t see a hole that a rodent has dug into the grass, which they step in and badly twist their ankle.
- An electrician fixing your circuit breaker panel doesn’t see the puddle of water on the ground below it, and a faulty breaker sparks, causing current to surge through their body and give them an extremely strong shock.
There are loads of different ways a home services professional could get hurt at your home, and that means there are loads of different ways you could be responsible for the injuries they sustain. But that shouldn’t cause you to not hire a professional in order to ensure the job gets done right. In fact, more people injure themselves trying to fix things on their own every year than professionals do while on the job. In many cases, if you don’t have the skill or the knowledge to handle a task, it’s just not worth it.
How to Protect Yourself
What can you do to protect yourself from one of these lawsuits? The answer is a simple one: just be careful who it is you hire to do the job. If you’ve got a problem, odds are you’ll have several, if not dozens of choices of service companies to handle the job, some large and some small. But before you hire a specific one, take a moment to find out what they have in place to protect you and their employees as well.
There are two things to ask about: professional licenses, and insurance policies. A professional license will indicate that an employee has been properly trained and passed an exam which tests their proficiency in their trade. An insurance policy is financial security which a company provides to not only protect their employees in the event of an accident, but their customers as well. Most reputable companies will have both of these things, but some smaller companies may not. If a company does not insure their employees with one of these policies, you could be putting yourself at a serious lawsuit risk in the event they are hurt while working on your property, even if the injury is caused by a complete fluke accident.If you’ve been injured on someone else’s property, call Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC at (866) 675-4427 to request a case evaluation!