How owners and buildings can protect themselves from lawsuits over renovation accidents
Owners, condos and co-op boards need to understand the legal risks renovations present and how to insure themselves against it, says attorney Andrew Freedland, a partner in Herrick's Real Estate practice, when speaking to Brick Underground for their article discussing how boards can protect themselves from renovation accidents.
"Condos and co-ops really need to know about this to make sure they have the right professionals to guide them so they’re not opening themselves up to unnecessary and avoidable liability," Andrew says.
Brick Underground notes, "Essentially, strict liability is just a higher standard of responsibility that both contractors and building owners, including boards, bear to provide working conditions. If an injury happens on an owner’s property, they are held liable for the accident, even if the injured person was partially at fault, Freedland says. (There are exceptions, such as if the worker’s decision was the sole cause of the accident.)"
Andrew continues, "If an injury happened on your property you’re liable for it... There’s essentially no claim for the owner against the individual who is responsible for their portion of the negligence, whereas you would find that with other types of negligence."
The article explains, "For example, if someone is drunk, trips, and falls on a building's damaged stairs, a property owner would only be held responsible for a portion of the damage caused by the defective stairs, while the person would be held partially liable for their intoxication." Andrew adds that in renovation accidents covered under the scaffold law, "the property owner is completely liable for the injuries."
"In my practice, I know that when I have a building that's doing construction work—whether it’s a facade project, or a roof project, or the renovation of a lobby, any project—one of the early things that I say is, where’s the contractor’s insurance and is it being reviewed by your insurance broker to make sure its adequate?" Freedland says.