Liability and home construction

Liability and worker’s injury

Planning to hire a contractor to do some work on your house this year? You better make sure that they are well qualified. Take time to check references and look them up online to see that they are dependable. Personal liability claims for workers’ injuries can extend to homeowners and, if a contractor or their employees are injured on your property, you could be liable for their medical bills, lost wages or damages for pain and suffering.

Construction work can be dangerous and your home, when it’s under renovation, becomes a work site. Any renovation involves risk to the owner, the contractor and all of the workers on site.

What is the homeowner’s liability ?

Before your contractor starts the job:

Ask to see a copy of their license, liability insurance and Worker’s Compensation insurance. Ask for the policy number, write it down and call to check those numbers are legitimate.

Review your contract and make sure that all of the work is listed along with costs and guarantees.

Take the time to walk through your home and the job site with your contractor to make them aware of any unsafe conditions that could cause an injury.

Being helpful could make you liable

While the contractor completes the work:

Never offer to lend your contractor your own tools or equipment. You may be liable if your equipment contributes to an injury.

Watch for workers who are obviously unsafe or who are not following accepted guidelines for safe practices.

Keep a running inventory of supplies, tools and equipment and make sure that your contractor stores them properly at the end of the day.

Contractors are trained professionals, but accidents can and do happen. Sadly, most homeowners think that if a contractor is hurt on their property while working, they will not be liable. This is a dangerous belief. By not properly vetting the people you hire to work on your construction or renovation projects, you are leaving yourself open to liability. Take precaution and keep your home construction site safe.

Liability, Floods and Insurance Claims. What you need to know.

Insurance claims, liability and floods

Flooding has become a frequent occurrence over the past years as we hear of more and more homes and families wiped out by water damage and without insurance coverage to bail themselves out. Water damage can be costly for homeowners. Water can damage just about anything leaving homeowners devastated and dealing with soaring repair bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, flood coverage is not automatically included in all home insurance policies.

Know your homeowner’s liability policy

Read your homeowner’s liability policy, commercial liability policy and / or tenant’s insurance policy to make sure you are properly insured. Among other things, these policies cover you if someone is hurt on your property.  If someone is injured and you do not have adequate insurance, the injured person’s lawyer could come after your assets.  Make sure you have enough enough insurance to cover a flooding disaster. 

Flood insurance can always be purchased as optional coverage, but homeowners are usually still surprised to learn that they are not automatically covered when they find themselves in need. Be aware of short timelines if someone becomes injured.   If someone is injured on city property, the timelines are quite short and notice must be given within 10 days.

Fortunately, there are many things that a homeowner can do to protect their home, property and self.

  • Store important documents and personal items away from flood prone areas like basements.
  • Carefully chose your footwear. Choose a shoe that has the most grip. 
  • Never store hazardous materials such as paint, oil and cleaning supplies in the basement. They can leak when submerged in water and create an environmental hazard.
  • Know where the water main shut off is in your house.
  • Never walk through water in flooded areas if the power is still on.
  • Make a plan for your pets in case of evacuation. They are not often welcome in shelters.
  • Have a friend or neighbour check your home daily if you are planning to go away during the winter.
  • Raise large appliances off the basement floor to avoid water damage.
  • Anchor fuel tanks. These tanks can float or tip over in a flood causing leakage and a possible fire.