Although Georgia workers are generally entitled to recover compensation from their employers for workplace injuries, whether independent contractors are entitled to Georgia workers’ compensation benefits can be tricky. In a recent case, a court considered whether an independent contractor was entitled to bring a premises liability claim against a homeowner after he was injured on the property.
In that case, the plaintiff was washing windows on a house when he fell off the roof of the defendant’s house. He brought a premises liability claim against the homeowner, arguing that loose rocks and sand on the roof caused him to fall and that they constituted a dangerous condition.
The trial court found that the plaintiff could not bring his claim because he was an independent contractor, and the plaintiff appealed. Under that state’s law, an independent contractor generally cannot sue the hirer of the contractor for injuries suffered in the workplace. However, an independent contractor can sue if the hirer exercises control over the work in a way that contributes to the injury, or if the hirer fails to warn the contractor of a concealed dangerous condition on the property. The plaintiff claimed that the hirer had a dangerous condition on the property, in part because he was forced to walk along a narrow ledge along the roof because piping and mechanical equipment were blocking a safer path. The homeowner provided video and photo evidence taken over three years after the incident that showed individuals walking around the equipment and along a safer path.