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Joseph, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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As a licensed architect, if I work as an independent contractor (1099) for an unlicensed d

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As a licensed architect, if I work as an independent contractor (1099) for an unlicensed designer, do I need to carry my own liability insurance? What is my general risk?

This is in the state of California. I will NOT be stamping and signing documents. The project is residential and does not require a licensed architect to stamp and sign drawings (because in the state of California, unlicensed individuals may design and submit drawings for residential projects of less than 3 stories). I know if the other individual was licensed, their license and liability insurance would protect me but because the other person is not licensed and I am, I am not sure what risk I am exposing myself to.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer!

I'm sorry to hear about your situation and hope I can help.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

I need a bit more information from you before I can proceed to provide you with a complete and thorough answer to your question.

Can you answer the following questions for me regarding your work under the unlicensed designer. I ask because oftentimes employees are misclassified as 1099 independent contractors.

In applying the economic realities test, the most significant factor to be considered is whether the person to whom service is rendered (the employer or principal) has control or the right to control the worker both as to the work done and the manner and means in which it is performed. Additional factors that may be considered depending on the issue involved are:

1. Whether the person performing services is engaged in an occupation or business distinct from that of the principal;
2. Whether or not the work is a part of the regular business of the principal or alleged employer;
3. Whether the principal or the worker supplies the instrumentalities, tools, and the place for the person doing the work;
4. The alleged employee’s investment in the equipment or materials required by his or her task or his or her employment of helpers;
5. Whether the service rendered requires a special skill;
6. The kind of occupation, with reference to whether, in the locality, the work is usually done under the direction of the principal or by a specialist without supervision;
7. The alleged employee’s opportunity for profit or loss depending on his or her managerial skill;
8. The length of time for which the services are to be performed;
9. The degree of permanence of the working relationship;
10. The method of payment, whether by time or by the job; and
11. Whether or not the parties believe they are creating an employer-employee relationship may have some bearing on the question, but is not determinative since this is a question of law based on objective tests.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I am a licensed architect. I have other projects with other clients, so I don't think I could be classified as an employee of this particular client

Hello Tim,

You are definitely not obligated to carry your own liability insurance working as an independent contractor with an unlicensed designer.

I'm not an insurance adjuster, so I cannot comment in great detail on the risk that you may face by not having liability insurance.

That said, since you're contracting with the unlicensed designer, it would be difficult for you to face any direct liability for anything going wrong, as the primary responsibility (the person being sued) would lie with the designer and not you.

I'm not sure if you're asking about workers' compensation as well. Of course, it's best if you have your own insurance, but you are not required to do so. However, since you are an independent contractor, if you are injured on the job, you would be solely responsible for medical bills, etc., unless you can prove it was due to someone else's negligence.

I hope the above information is helpful.

Please let me know if you have any follow up or clarifying questions as I want to ensure that you are completely satisfied with my service.

If not, please remember to rate my answer positively so I get paid for my work.

Thanks and best of luck!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your quick response. Is your response the same for professional errors and omissions? If a mistake is made in the detailing of the project (let's say a waterproofing detail) and the house leaks and the owners sue, am I likely to become a party to that (because I am licensed and the designer is not), or am I "protected" because again, I am only providing a service to the designer, and the designer is the one contracted with the developer and the one responsible.

Hello Tim,

They would be likely to go after the designer you are working for directly, however you could still be sued for negligence, since it's likely that the courts would find that you owed a duty of care to the client too (even though you weren't the one who contracted with them directly).

Also, if the designer were sued you could potentially be sued for indemnification, so it isn't an absolute protection, by any means, just because you're working under the designer. It just means that you're unlikely to be the first person sued, but it doesn't protect you from potential liability.
Joseph, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience: Extensive experience representing employees and management
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