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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    7

    Default Waiver and Release from Liabilty Form for Workers in Your Home

    My question involves a potential injury that may occur in the state of: Texas

    I need some minor repairs around house. With the economy the way it is, most workers for hire just can't afford their own insurance. I've spoken to my insurance company a couple of times and they inform me that they absolutely do not, will not, support me in the event a worker injures himself on my premises. (I have fairly comprehensive homeowners insurance and an umbrella policy.) I asked my company if they had a form that I could print out and have the potential worker sign, releasing me from liabiltiy, allowing him to assume full responsibilty for his own well being. The company had no such form, could not offer one.

    I've searched the Internet for a form applicable to my situation, and, surprisingly, found nothing. I found 'release from liabiltiy' forms for summer camps, horse riding schools, etc., but nothing for the homeowner having home repairs done.

    Would having such a form and having the worker sign it provide the legal protection I require? Does anyone know where I could get one? It probably should provide protection legal action from minor injury to loss of life.

    Any/all advice welcome. Thanks you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,995

    Default Re: Waiver/Release from Liabilty Form (Statement)- Worker in Home

    I don't have the exact form you're looking for, but I had some familiarity with the issues.

    I had a business, and I own rental properties. At the business, we had a serious accident, and several people were seriously hurt, and taken to the hospital, among them an uninsured subcontractor.

    Some time after his admission to the hospital, I got a call from the hospital finance office asking me for the exact name of my company, the person, and address to send the bills. I hesitated, and said I have to first find my paperwork for the my contractor, actually, to see if I had a waiver of my liability. The hospital simply told me that's not their problem, what waivers I had from him does not concern them, and unless I have a workman's comp policy covering him, they expect me to pay the bill.

    Some time later, I checked on my insurance for my home and for my rentals on my liability to subcontractors. My insurance agent advised I have "workman's comp" included in my homeowners, but not my rentals. She also told me that in my state, NY, this workman's comp coverage is required by state law in homeowner policies, but not in other states, where it has to be purchased separately.

    Probably, you can ask if such coverage can be bought, separately, as it is evidently NOT in your general liability coverage. When the accident happened at my business, some people asked "don't you have insurance?? I checked, and my "general liability" coverage has several exclusions, and one major one is workman's comp for uninsured subcontractors, and the exclusion goes on to state that " the insured should further purchase workman's comp insurance".

    The other approach is to ONLY use licensed and insured contractors. I had some conversations with people since the accident, and I was told that NY state really got tough on the issue, with homeowners taking advantage of cheap contractors who don't buy insurance, gets injured, wind up in the hospitals, and the taxpayers foot the bill. Then the homeowners, who got the cheap labor, laugh and simply waive the problem off, saying "hey, BUT HE didn't buy insurance".

    The long and the short of it, I don't know enough about Texas law to say if some subcontractor winds up in the hospital, the hospital is not going to come after YOU even with a waiver. On the other hand, it's easy enough to ONLY use insured contractors, and/or check to see if you can include such coverage in your insurance.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Waiver/Release from Liabilty Form (Statement)- Worker in Home

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I did ask my insurance rep if a rider or additional policy was available, and was told that there was nothing else they could provide me with. I may ask them again, now that I'm becoming more familiar with this situation and terminology.

    In addition to concerns about injury, hospital bills, lost wages, etc., I can't help but also be concerned that the injured worker won't try to sue me for some reason. I just don't know enough about these things.... hence my asking here.

    I was thinking that I could type up a waiver and have the handyman sign it. I would not be able to include all the legal factors, language, etc. to make it a legally binding document on my own. This is why I'm searching for advice and an example.

    Thanks again. Anyone else?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,995

    Default Re: Waiver and Release from Liabilty Form for Workers in Your Home

    What you are talking about is a "liability waiver", or "liability waiver -release form", and if you google around, there's plenty of samples on the internet, of which this is one:

    http://www.windycitybmw.com/activiti...mpleWaiver.pdf

    As I mentioned, there are other issues involved, and even if this may cause the "unlicensed contractor" to think twice about suing, it will not in many cases prevent third parties, such as a hospital, where the injured party is taken to, to sue you for hiring an uninsured contractor.

    My dad, at 85 years of age, has trouble walking around, and hired "home care" assistance help, and the difference between an uninsured off the books worker, versus a taxed, and insured worker comes to about $4.00/hour. He pays for about 40 hours a week of help. While it comes to $160/week, or a few thousand a year, the peace of mind, with the insured worker, is all worth it.

    I checked around, while I can try to arrange "workmans comp" here in NY for my rentals, I have to set up a company with a payroll, which I have, and if pay myself a nominal $100/week, I still have to pay minimum insurance based on a payroll of $25,000. It's simpler for me just to hire insured contractors.

    I worked with undocumented, uninsured workers. If something happens, and you pull out the signed waiver, a sharp attorney would point to laws that YOU violated, including ones on labor, and taxes to name some. And if the guy doesn't speak English, do you have a Spanish version available, with a translator explaining what he signed??

    In summary, don't play around with fire.

    Another way to get around it is to hire these guys through a temp agency, and let the temp agency worry about taxes and insurance.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Waiver and Release from Liabilty Form for Workers in Your Home

    SChinFChin - Thanks again for replying.

    I've spoken with three different people associated with Texas Workers Comp/Insurance. No one could help me out, beyond suggesting a search on the Internet for the form/example I'm looking for. They, too, expressed concern that such a release form might not legally hold up in court.

    Thanks for the example. But (wow!) it's really full of legalese, to the point of being somewhat obtuse. I don't think that any judge, etc., after listening to my high school dropout handyman explain his view of events, is going to believe that he really understood what he was signing away. I can see that a "plain language" version would be needed.

    I guess I'll keep on searching. At this point I do believe that ensuring that the repairman has the necessary insurance certificate and can provide me with a copy is the safest alternative (as you suggested).

    Any one else?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Waiver and Release from Liabilty Form for Workers in Your Home

    Quote Quoting TomZ
    View Post
    SChinFChin - Thanks again for replying.

    I've spoken with three different people associated with Texas Workers Comp/Insurance. No one could help me out, beyond suggesting a search on the Internet for the form/example I'm looking for. They, too, expressed concern that such a release form might not legally hold up in court.

    Thanks for the example. But (wow!) it's really full of legalese, to the point of being somewhat obtuse. I don't think that any judge, etc., after listening to my high school dropout handyman explain his view of events, is going to believe that he really understood what he was signing away. I can see that a "plain language" version would be needed.

    I guess I'll keep on searching. At this point I do believe that ensuring that the repairman has the necessary insurance certificate and can provide me with a copy is the safest alternative (as you suggested).

    Any one else?
    I live in Texas too.
    I have just gone through this today. We have a dead tree in our backyard so I got estimates. When calling to check their insurance I found out, yeah they have insurance, but it doesn't cover their own workers! It just covers damage to your property or someone else if they accidentally put the tree through your roof or hurt someone .
    The insurance company told that to carry insurance on their own workers would cost them several thousand dollar each and to have them sign a waiver of liability and have it notarized, but my husband doesn't think it will stand up in court.
    We are contacting out insurance company tomorrow.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Waiver and Release from Liabilty Form for Workers in Your Home

    Thanks for the reply. Please keep us posted. I think you will learn that your insurance company won't touch this with a ten foot pole. But I'm hoping you come up with some sort of practical solution.



    Moral of this story: Send your kids to law school, and have them work construction jobs during the summers.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,995

    Default Re: Waiver and Release from Liabilty Form for Workers in Your Home

    I few more thoughts.

    First, if there are any questions on how to get insurance, what type, or what it covers, find a local independent insurance agent. Although I had a workman's comp policy for my business, I relied on my insurance agent to find out how it affects homeowners, and rentals. The people I talk to at the insurance company knows about THEIR insurance, but not the BIG picture.

    As to "luanski's" comment about the tree service having only "general liability" insurance, it is true that if the workers got injured, they have no coverage without workman's comp. But if the company claims to be licensed and insured, then his situation is a bit different than TomZ's.

    If the tree service worker got injured, sues the homeowner, then the homeowner can turn around and sue the tree service owner, and against his GL insurance on the grounds of negligience in training and hiring workers, negligience in supervising, and most importantly, failure to provide "workman's comp" insurance.

    Here in NY where I am, companies cannot claim poverty not providing workman's comp because it is state law, and state law also makes company officers PERSONALLY responsible if workman's comp is not provided.

    I haven't checked TX state laws on workman's comp, but the issue of the legal requirement of owners is an important one.

    Finally, I did use one or two unlicensed handyman through the years. But these guys are full fledge union workers as their main occupation, and their unions provide FULL medical coverage, and the union makes sure they get enough work through the year to remain qualified. So, if they are injured, and goes to a hospital, the hospital will not be coming after me for the bills.

    And I found that in economic downturns, union guys in furlough often looks for side jobs, and they may be a good alternative to "unlicensed" and "undocumented" workers who hangs around the Home Depot parking lots.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Waiver and Release from Liabilty Form for Workers in Your Home

    Thanks again, SChinFChin. Yeah, if I were you and had some sort of income-producing business enterprise, finding and paying for insurance would be the thing to do. In my case, I might need some work once a year or less; taking out an additional policy would not be worth it..... I mean, I guess I'm (we're) being forced to seek out and use only workers who have and can prove they have personal injury liability insurance for themselves and any/all employees.

    luannski - What did you find out? What are you going to do?


    I guess that this marks the end of the neighbor's kid mowing your grass, trying to make enough money to buy his first guitar.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Waiver and Release from Liabilty Form for Workers in Your Home

    Quote Quoting SChinFChin
    View Post
    ..Another way to get around it is to hire these guys through a temp agency, and let the temp agency worry about taxes and insurance.
    Be careful going through a temp agency as well. Read their fine print. For instance, the temp agency I use has fine print that says their workers are not to use a ladder or power equipment. Well, what the he#@ good are they?

    This whole liability issue is so complex, when are we going to have real tort reform in this country? I was reading a newspaper on business injuries while in Canada the other day and their situation makes so much more sense. Companies are fined by the government in much smaller amounts for unsafe work practices. There doesn't seem to be all this litigation with the potentail for huge windfalls to slip and fall con artists that we have that stifles free enterprise.

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