By Richard A. Mann, Richard A. Mann PC
Are you having work done in your office? Is your IT contractor installing a new computer system, telephone system etc.? Are you paying more than $1,000?
The Indiana Court of Appeals has held that a person or business may be liable for injuries sustained by the employee of a tree trimming service when that employee was injured. A little known statute which is Indiana Code 22-3-2-14(b), requires that when you hire someone to perform any activity on your company’s behalf exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), such as tree trimming, lawn service, plumbing, electrical service and the like, that you require them to provide you with proof from such contractor a certificate from the worker's compensation board showing that such contractor has complied with section 5 of this chapter, IC 22-3-5-1, and IC 22-3-5-2. If you fail to do so, you shall be liable to the same extent as the contractor for compensation, physician's fees, hospital fees, nurse's charges, and burial expenses on account of the injury or death of any employee of such contractor, due to an accident arising out of and in the course of the performance of the work covered by such contract. There are some exceptions that apply to your owner occupied residence, but you should obtain the certificate in any case.
The interesting question raised in this case was the tree trimming service was only being paid six hundred dollars ($600.) Part of the agreement between the tree trimming service and the business was that the tree trimming service was allowed to keep the wood that resulted from cutting up the downed tree. The employee of the tree trimming service argued that the wood was valued at more than four hundred dollars ($400) and therefore the true value of the contract was in excess of one thousand dollars ($1,000.)
Therefore, under this case, if a computer installer, painter, roofer, chimney sweep, or the like is injured while performing work for you in the amount in excess of one thousand dollars ($1,000), you could be personally liable for compensation, physician's fees, hospital fees, nurse's charges, and burial expenses on account of the injury or death of any employee of such contractor, due to an accident arising out of and in the course of the performance of the work covered by such contract.
Also, another insurance that you should require them to provide is proof of liability insurance, which also covers you. You can purchase at your own cost as part of your business insurance to protect you from the above issues. You should consult your insurance professional to see if your current policy covers you.
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