Homeowner May Be Liable for Independent Contractor’s Fall from Roof

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.

Legal News GavelIn 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.

The appeals court found that the plaintiff could proceed with his claims against the homeowner. The court explained that the narrow ledge along the roof may have been a dangerous condition that the homeowner could have remedied. Although the photos and video supported the homeowner’s claim that the contractor could have walked around the equipment, it found it was not conclusive. It noted that the homeowner did not produce any evidence that the video showed the roof in the same condition as it was at the time of the incident three years earlier. The court also noted that the plaintiff may have been bigger than the individuals in the video or that he may have had equipment with him that prevented him from getting around the equipment. Therefore, the appeals court found that the case could proceed and be heard by a jury.

Independent Contractors in Georgia

In Georgia workers’ compensation claims, an independent contractor generally does not have the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits. However, it is not always clear whether someone is an independent contractor. Certain persons have been deemed independent contractors according to Georgia statutes. In other cases, there are a number of factors courts will consider, including whether an independent contractor relationship was intended, whether the individual exercises control over the way he performs his work, and how the individual is paid, among others.

Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Georgia work-related accident, do not let the employer prevent you from obtaining the compensation you deserve. At the Georgia law office of J. Franklin Burns, P.C., our attorneys have decades of experience handling Georgia workers’ compensation claims, with a track record of positive case outcomes resulting in millions of dollars in compensation. To learn more about how we can help you obtain workers’ compensation benefits, call us for a free consultation at 404-303-7770 or fill out the contact form on our website.

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Employee Allowed to Sue Employer for Workers’ Compensation Fraud, January 17, 2018, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

Court Finds Employee’s Surgery Caused by Preexisting Condition and Not Entitled to Compensation, January 4, 2018, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog