There is work I need to do that will require another set of hands (lifting and installing sheathing and drywall). At first I thought I'd enlist a neighborhood teenager and pay him for his time. Then I started thinking, "hey, what if he gets hurt?" I think his parents could take legal action against me. True?
Is there anything I could do to protect myself? I don't want to lose everything just to save a few bucks by going DIY.
Thanks for any insight.
Make a call to your insurance agent and find out.
There is no way to get out from the liability in this situation if somebody you hire gets hurt. In reality, if he just comes over to 'help' and doesn't get paid, gets hurt then you can still be liable. Another factor is that most states have age limits on 'dangerous' occupations, one of them being construction. This could vary by state but I know that in TN you cannot have anyone under 16 on a ladder or roof.
If you can find a decent HS or College kid to help you doing basic stuff then I would just hire them and take your chances.
In California, part of "homeowners insurance" includes coverage for anyone that is a short term hire and works less than 20 hours a week. It is required insurance.
Interesting. I would think if not required in your state, you could always pick up a short term policy to cover your hires.
"What would Curley do ?"
Thanks joecaption, Jaybee, Re-mdlr, and Commonwealth Sparky for your ideas. I think you've all made relevant points.
I called my insurance agent and local code inspector to get their words on the issue.
Apparently, the issue is a gray area. Basically, people can sue for just about any reason. Whether or not they might win the suit is another issue. To win a liability claim, someone would need to show that I was negligent (like making the kid climb a rickety, old, ladder causing him to fall and get injured).
It was suggested that I get a signed "Hold Harmless" agreement from the helper. Since he's a 16 year old minor, that would mean I'd need to get the signature of his parent.
I'd also need to get an exemption from paying Workers' Compensation (which I can do as long as I don't use more than 40 hours of help per week).
If there is a liability claim payout, that would be covered by my home owner's insurance (up to the limit in the policy).
So, with all that, I still feel like I'm pretty much "taking my chances".
Heck I would run with it as well. The fun part is picking a lad without two left feet.
"What would Curley do ?"
How do we expect our youth to got off there's butts and stop playing on the phone or playing video games if we do not give them a chance to learn something?
By the time my boys were 14 they knew how to paint, put on a roof, fix a window, weld, and could rebuild and make there own bikes out of old scrap bikes.
One mowed lawns, raked leaves, small painting jobs. By the time he was in 12 grade he owned and had pay for his own mowers, a trailer, and truck.
Because a crew chief on Black Hawks, took flight training and became a pilot.
He's now the youngest factory rep, for Sokoskey they have ever had.
Why, I'd like to think it was because he was just to busy working to get into trouble and understands what pride in your work means.
I'd give the boy a chance.
[QUOTE]Originally posted by SturdyNail:
Basically, people can sue for just about any reason. Whether or not they might win the suit is another issue. To win a liability claim, someone would need to show that I was negligent (like making the kid climb a rickety, old, ladder causing him to fall and get injured)."
T'is true that people in theory can sue for just about anything, and proving liability is an issue, but the realities are these:
1. Most people aren't comfortable enough to file and manage a lawsuit on their own, so they need experienced counsel.
2. Personal injury, product liability and medical malpractice attorneys are bottom line oriented, unless they're what we referred to as baby attorneys and just starting out. Experienced attorneys need to see enough of a claim to justify their time.
Example: the daughter of a friend underwent an operation to remove one lobe of a lung which had been diagnosed as cancerous. Later review of all the data by another doctor reflected that the diagnosing doctor had made a mistake; thus a completely healthy lobe had been removed.
I referred her to some top med mal attorneys with whom I had worked, but they didn't feel the case was worth taking. Why? Because even though she had suffered and was compromised, she could still live and breathe with one lung.. This mitigates against the level of damage done. They also explained that the case had to be worth their while. Bottom line: money trumphed incompetence.
3. Years ago there used to be a legal concept known as contributory negligence, which meant that any damages could be apportioned across both plaintiff and defendant if the plaintiff (injured party) had in some way contributed to the injuries (i.e., been sloppy, not taken proper precatuions, etc.). I haven't been in the personal injury field for decades and am not up to date on this concept. But they would be issues of fact and proof in a suit.
So, yes, someone could theoretically sue, but would he? And would an attorney take the case?
"It was suggested that I get a signed "Hold Harmless" agreement from the helper. Since he's a 16 year old minor, that would mean I'd need to get the signature of his parent. QUOTE]
The real teeth in an effective and tight hold harmless agreement are the words "indemnify and defend"....someone agrees to hold harmless, indemnify and defend someone else in the event of certain actions (i.e., injury).
If the teen was injured after his parents had signed only a hold harmless agreement, you might be covered, but I would consider this an issue for a contract law attorney. And I would never even consider any kind of hold harmless clause without getting legal advice first.
If you or your attorney adds an indemnification clause, theoretically the liability issues expand, as do the obligations of the parent. However, they would be indemnifying you against a suit filed by them, so where is the protection for them?
Indemnification clauses were always sensitive and difficult issues of negotiaion when I was a contract administrator. Without getting into detail on the range of actions which could invoke indemnification, suffice it to say that few 16 year olds or their parents have the resources to indemnify and defend (which essentialy means paying your legal fees) someone in the event of injury.
I think there's a middle ground, and that's to discuss with the teen and his parents your proposed work, the tasks, tools to be used, working environment, etc. Make sure they're fully aware of what he'll be doing. It wouldn't hurt for them to be invited to the site either so they could be comfortable with his activities.
If you do go ahead with the work, make sure it's explained thoroughly and that he's comfortable with doing it before you start. He should also tell you if he thinks it's too much for him to handle.
It's unfortunate that legal issues have become so predominant in our lives.
Sorry for the length of the post (I'm not Nestor's alter ego!) but this is such a complex issue.This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
As usual, well said, and with sufficient candor to provide my laugh for the day. Your frankness is refreshing.
I think there's a generation of youths growing up with thumbs in perpetual motion as they play with their smart devices. That will be good for sports doctors and occupational therapists, so at least some sector of society will benefit.
Thank you for your informative response and perspective. I like your suggestion:
The teen and his parents are friends of ours. I don't want to treat them like suspicious characters.
just do it, and save the refreshments (outside the lemon water and cookies) for when work is done.
and leave filling in big holes until the end, in csse you have to tip in some helpers who suffered big accidents.
sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
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