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Are You Liable? Protect Yourself from Home Worker Lawsuits (August 2016) << Back
 
As the housekeeper is vacuuming your living room, she trips over one of your son’s toys and seriously injures her back. While your neighbor's teenage son is mowing your front lawn, he steps in a large hole and sprains his ankle. Will your homeowner's insurance cover you if one of these workers decides to file a lawsuit?
 
Many homeowners do not realize that they could be held legally liable if a maid, landscaper, nanny or other house worker were to suffer from an injury on their property. Here are some things you should keep in mind before you hire a home worker:
 
Is that worker an employee or a contractor?
When you hire someone to help out around the house, you should figure out whether he or she is an employee or a contractor. This is one of the factors that determines whether or not you are liable for a worker's injury. So, how do you know if the worker is considered your employee or a contractor? It all comes down to how much control you have over the worker.
 
Let's say you hire a nanny to take care of your children and do some light cleaning in your home. She follows your instructions about how to care for your kids and how to complete certain household tasks. You supply her with the supplies and tools she needs to do her job. Because you have control over how she works, she is most likely considered your employee.
 
On the other hand, let's say you hire a professional landscaper to fertilize and mow your grass, trim the hedges and plant flowers in your yard. He uses his own lawn mower and yard tools and does yard work for other homeowners as well. He also has a team of workers who help him with his business, and he pays these workers. In this case, he would be considered an independent contractor.
 
Of course, these are two fairly simple examples. If you are uncertain about whether a worker in your home is considered a contractor or an employee, consult an attorney or give one of our insurance professionals a call.
 
Understanding worker's comp insurance
Some states require that homeowners who have house worker "employees" to carry workers' compensation insurance coverage for them. However, even if your state does not require this, you should still consider purchasing this insurance for your employees. Why? Because if one of your employees is injured on your property, you may have to pay for their medical bills and other expenses out of your own pocket. However, with workers' compensation coverage, the insurance company will cover the costs.
 
Alternatively, if you hire a house contractor, such as a landscaper, carpenter or plumber, they should be covered by their own workers' compensation insurance. If a contractor is injured while doing work on your property, he or she should be covered under their own policy.
 
If you are looking to hire a contractor, it's important to ensure they are covered for worker injuries, as well as bodily injury and property damage liability. Don't just take their word for it. Ask for written proof that they have a contractor's license, workers' compensation insurance and general liability coverage.
 
Know what your homeowner's insurance covers
When it comes to coverage for home workers, every homeowner's insurance policy is different. Because homeowner's policies vary widely, it's important to read through your contract and talk to our staff if you are unsure or have any questions.
 
Check with the Better Business Bureau
Before you hire a home worker, you should contact the Better Business Bureau for more information. They can tell you if any consumers have filed complaints against the worker. Visit the bureau's website at www.bbb.org.
   
   
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AHTKY Insurance Agency, LLC
1451 W. Artesia Blvd, Suite A, Gardena, California 90248
CA License: 0C46036