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rated:
A friend works as a handyman for a building contractor. Apparently he's not an official employee and so isn't covered under workers' comp (sounds like that's what he's been told by his employer - not sure if that's actually true or not).

He was recently doing a job on someone's house and has severely injured his leg as a result of an accident there (ended up with bones exposed and poking through the leg). He's therefore probably not going to be able to work for several months and inevitably has medical bills and doesn't have health insurance.

I remember seeing threads on here (like the pipe/hole in front yard thread?) which suggested that the homeowner would have liability insurance as part of their homeowners insurance that covers accidents on the property. Neither myself nor my friend are keen on pursuing that idea as it would presumably jack up their insurance premiums. However, my friend is likely going to be in a seriously bad financial situation as a result of this accident, so we also don't want to rule it out.

So a few questions:

  1. Would the homeowners insurance be something he could make a claim under?
  2. If so, how would he go about making a claim, as I'm guessing he wouldn't get too far with the homeowner if he asked for their insurance company's details?
  3. If he's acting as an independent contractor for his employer, is he eligible for workers' comp? I know there are certain rules about whether or not someone can be regarded as an independent contractor; I'm not sure if he could even be regarded as this by the IRS. This would be my preferred route but knowing his employer, even if he was able to claim workers' comp, it would probably mean he wouldn't get any jobs with him in the future if and when he's able to work again as a result of the claim.

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This is one of those situations where the buddy needs to call a personal injury lawyer and let them go to bat for them.
R... (more)

Paragon (Sep. 26, 2016 @ 10:08a) |

This is a common misunderstanding - that umbrella policy "covers them" in terms of providing liability coverage for them... (more)

Glitch99 (Sep. 26, 2016 @ 9:26p) |

but if they sue it can become your liability

pillsdoughboy1 (Sep. 26, 2016 @ 11:58p) |

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rated:
It depends - he needs to get a lawyer.

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Comp recoveries are usually limited. When the moron employer doesn't pay for comp coverage... their exposure is essentially limitless. He might want to talk to a Personal Injury attorney. Had one case where a lady broke a hip at a medical facility where she was working off-the-books. Comp recovery would have been in the mid-to-high five figures. we settled in the low-to-mid six figures before trial. The employer started paying their comp premiums after that.

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Check your Homeowner's policy for a Worker's Compensation endorsement. Most people have it and don't realize it. Usually added for a nominal charge. Mine is $3 a year.

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dannon35 said:   Check your Homeowner's policy for a Worker's Compensation endorsement. Most people have it and don't realize it. Usually added for a nominal charge. Mine is $3 a year.

Anyone else have this endorsement?

I love the idea, especially for that price (seems way too low).

And to the OP - If it was me, I'd check back with the person / company who was writing me the check for the work I was doing.  One way or another, some people are going to get mad and some people are going to learn a lesson about insurance.

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and, stupidly, we need to know what state you're in, because some states treat worker's comp differently.

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Shouldn't this person have insurance under the "affordable care act" I thought it was mandatory that everyone have insurance? Seems like a risk you take when not having health insurance.

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We're in VA. Although health insurance is in theory mandatory, it just means you pay a penalty on your taxes if you don't have it.

With regards to the workers' comp, I'm assuming the employer has it, it's just that my friend doesn't think that he would be covered under it as the employer doesn't treat him as an 'employee'.

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If the employer has comp, its likely going to get paid under the comp, and the employer is going to be in some trouble with their carrier for using uninsured subs or not reporting employees. If they don't have comp, your friend is going to have to sue them for cost of medical bills and such, and they are going to be in even bigger trouble with the state for no comp coverage.

If he really is a true independent contractor, which is doubtful but hey who knows maybe the employer has their stuff in order, then he might be up a creek. Like others said see if the homeowner has a comp endorsement on their homeowners policy, or an umbrella that would cover a premesis liability claim. Or he may have to sue the homeowner.

If no comp in place to cover him homeowner is likely going to be liable as he is an invited guest on the property unless he was somehow acting in an unsafe manner.

Disclaimer: not a lawyer, just an insurance guy



Edit to add: if the employer is being a jerk, he may be able to go through this link to find a carrier name and policy number if there is comp coverage in place, and then file a claim direct with the carrier:
https://www.ewccv.com/cvs

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peps2004 said:   We're in VA. Although health insurance is in theory mandatory, it just means you pay a penalty on your taxes if you don't have it.

With regards to the workers' comp, I'm assuming the employer has it, it's just that my friend doesn't think that he would be covered under it as the employer doesn't treat him as an 'employee'.

How is he not treated as an employee? Is he properly classified as an IC, or is this just something the employer does to save on taxes/ins?

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WHat does it mean really that he is working as a handyman but not an employee? Is he working under the table? Is he getting a 1099?

Does your friend have a business license? Does VA exempt handymen from having contractors licenses?

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jerosen said:   WHat does it mean really that he is working as a handyman but not an employee? Is he working under the table? Is he getting a 1099?

 

  he is a sub

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I'm not sure of the exact setup of how he's employed; I'm pretty sure he doesn't have a business license himself though. To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if his employer is doing something so that he saves on taxes and/or insurance.

I'm going to recommend to him that he contacts a lawyer to see what his options are. He's not really in any condition to look into all this stuff himself at the moment, so hopefully the lawyer will be able to ascertain if he's eligible for workers' comp or a claim through the homeowner's insurance. Although it'd presumably mean his payout would be lower because of the lawyer fees, I'd rather he got 50% of something than 100% of nothing.

Thanks for all the suggestions & advice so far everyone - I really appreciate it as I wasn't certain where we should start.

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defective ladder???

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tantuti said:   defective ladder???
  No, it was just an unfortunate accident 

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It sounds like VA worker's comp system is state run - http://www.disabilitysecrets.com/resources/workers-compensation/...

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If your friend was working for the employer then he was an employee. Whether he is treated that way (both pay and tax wise) is a different story. He should definitely see an attorney, and then the IRS.

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I'll expand on lotusgardener's comment. Lots of places incorrectly use the independent contractor designation for people who are really employees. Does he set is own schedule or is it set for him? Does the employer supply all necessary materials, tools, and such? Probably an employee. Does this guy have a business card with the company name and his name on it? He's an probably an employee.

http://www.vwc.state.va.us/content/injured-workers

rated:
Your friend should not pursue a claim against the homeowner's insurance. Even if that is legally possible, it's wrong. If your friend is acting as an independent contractor then it is his responsibility to provide his own workers comp insurance. Even his own personal health insurance (which doesn't exist in this case) wouldn't pay this claim if they knew it occurred in the line of work.

The contractor your friend was working for should have required your friend to produce a certificate of insurance, but obviously both your friend and the contractor he worked for are two bit hacks.

Your friend took a risk by not having insurance and it didn't work out for him. Now he needs to take responsibility for that choice. If he was incorrectly designated as an independent contractor rather than an employee, then the contractor should be liable. Based on this story I doubt the primary contractor has any assets anyways.

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peps2004 said:   
tantuti said:   defective ladder???
  No, it was just an unfortunate accident 

If I fall off a ladder while painting my house and break a leg, I have medical insurance to pay for medical costs and disability insurance if I can't work (I don't but just giving an example). If I don't, then the bills are on me, but these days with Obamacare or Medicaid, there is no excuse to not have some medical coverage. Why is it any different for someone I hire to paint the house. Unless I provide the ladder and it proves defective, the guy should cover his own bills.

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vegas4x4 said:   Your friend should not pursue a claim against the homeowner's insurance. Even if that is legally possible, it's wrong.  
 


Humans have the unfortunate tenancy to do that which is considered "wrong" as long as it's legally possible, when hundreds of thousands of dollars are involved.

rated:
vegas4x4 said:   
The contractor your friend was working for should have required your friend to produce a certificate of insurance, but obviously both your friend and the contractor he worked for are two bit hacks. 
 



There's a lesson to be learned here about hiring hacks without verifying their professional insurance.

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jason745 said:   http://www.vwc.state.va.us/sites/default/files/documents/Employe... 

#9 discusses his work status.

  #6 will leave you speechless. 
 

rated:
ArbitraryChicken said:   
jason745 said:   http://www.vwc.state.va.us/sites/default/files/documents/Employe... 

#9 discusses his work status.

  #6 will leave you speechless. 

  Why should #6 leave you speechless? Surely it is common sense to say that rates for insurance vary by amount of risk and to get an idea of cost one should shop around?If that's news to you, well, then I guess I'm speechless, but at you, not #6!    

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peps2004 said:   
tantuti said:   defective ladder???
  No, it was just an unfortunate accident 

  

Drugs or alcohol?  

 

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The bottom line is that a homeowner's policy will cover any liability of the homeowner, and the contractor's liability insurance will cover any liability of the contractor.  But you havent detailed what happened, or if either party is liable - either wholly or partially - for the injury.  That he was injured in the home doesnt mean an automatic liability payout from insurance.

The homeowner's insurance should have a "medical payments" benefit that is not based on fault, that he should be able to make a claim against.  But those limits are typically only $5k-$10k, and the settlement offer often comes with a liability waiver.

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Glitch99 said:   The bottom line is that a homeowner's policy will cover any liability of the homeowner, and the contractor's liability insurance will cover any liability of the contractor.  But you havent detailed what happened, or if either party is liable - either wholly or partially - for the injury.  That he was injured in the home doesnt mean an automatic liability payout from insurance.

The homeowner's insurance should have a "medical payments" benefit that is not based on fault, that he should be able to make a claim against.  But those limits are typically only $5k-$10k, and the settlement offer often comes with a liability waiver.

  

OP's buddy may well have to go to court to get a dime from anyone if they did something to cause their own injuries.  

Good luck getting a court date within several years.   


 

rated:
jumi said:   
ArbitraryChicken said:   
jason745 said:   http://www.vwc.state.va.us/sites/default/files/documents/Employe... 

#9 discusses his work status.

  #6 will leave you speechless. 

  Why should #6 leave you speechless? Surely it is common sense to say that rates for insurance vary by amount of risk and to get an idea of cost one should shop around?If that's news to you, well, then I guess I'm speechless, but at you, not #6!  

  It was just a joke based off those click bait headlines, doubt he even read #6.

rated:
This is one of those situations where the buddy needs to call a personal injury lawyer and let them go to bat for them.
Really the contractor is liable, even if buddy did something stupid. They are pretty much required to be bonded and insured in every state to get a license. My neighbor is a painter and frequently hires day labor or homeless guys trying to get back on their feet and he has a umbrella policy that covers them.

The homeowner or wherever they were working may have some shared liability if they were somehow negligent or made something unsafe outside of the scope of the work. If he was hired to fix a gutter and fell off the ladder or the gutter pulled down on him, it's his fault.

If he broke his leg in a hole in the yard, that's the homeowners fault.

Many states limit how much time you have to assert damages and claim liability, he needs to speak a lawyer ASAP.

rated:
Paragon said:   My neighbor is a painter and frequently hires day labor or homeless guys trying to get back on their feet and he has a umbrella policy that covers them.

 

  This is a common misunderstanding - that umbrella policy "covers them" in terms of providing liability coverage for them for anything they may be held liable for by others.  It does not cover damages they've incurred themselves. 

rated:
Glitch99 said:   
Paragon said:   My neighbor is a painter and frequently hires day labor or homeless guys trying to get back on their feet and he has a umbrella policy that covers them.

 

  This is a common misunderstanding - that umbrella policy "covers them" in terms of providing liability coverage for them for anything they may be held liable for by others.  It does not cover damages they've incurred themselves. 

  but if they sue it can become your liability

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