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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 20233
Experience:  Explains legal matters based on 14+ years experience.
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I am in the insulation business and my question pertains to

Resolved Question:

I am in the insulation business and my question pertains to damage. We work in attics regularly. Ocassionally there is damage to the ceiling from worker activity in the attic. My policy is if the damage was cause by a mistep or negligence by my workers we are responsible for the ceiling repair. However if the ceiling sheetrock or plaster cracks and we determine that there is a structural defect such as inadequate, loose, or defective framing, or design that does not adequately suport the worker's weight, then we do not cover damagest that result. It is very difficult to assess the structural support before hand since the ceiling framing in the attic is almost always covered by insulation. Current building code requires this framing to support the weight of a worker in the attic. A recent example is a home that had a load bearing wall previously removed to open up the kitchen to living room. My workers weight created a crack in the ceilings sheet rock right where the wall previously was. Not from a mistep but the framing sagged under the workers weight creating a crack. The owner wanted the crack repaired and the entire ceiling re-painted so all the paint would match. I assessed the root cause of the crack from defective structure - not from an error or negligence on our part and will not pay for the repair. Is this a sound policy that would prevail if legal action is taken?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 6 years ago.

JB Umphrey :

Thank you for using JustAnswer!

JB Umphrey :

Do you carry liability insurance for your business?

JACUSTOMER-23hhqolm- :

Yes, But I do not intend to make a claim if we are not negligent or responsible.

JB Umphrey :

I see.

JB Umphrey :

Well, your policy sounds to be reasonable.

JB Umphrey :

However, if legal action is taken, no matter what, you'll have to give notice to your insurer anyway.

JB Umphrey :

It will be your insurer that provide defense in any legal action.

JB Umphrey :

It will be the legal counsel for your insurer who says/argues that there was no negligence.

JB Umphrey :

In any legal claim, the issue is whether or not your/your workers were negligent.

JACUSTOMER-23hhqolm- :

I know that - but I need to have a good idea what is a sound policy on damages.....my policy should be in line with what would prevail in court

JB Umphrey :

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that a bright-line policy will prevail in court.

JB Umphrey :

Any case will be decided upon its own facts.

JACUSTOMER-23hhqolm- :

Ok.....so if my workers are doing their normal work, and a ceiling is damaged due to unforseen structural problems....then we should not be liable??

JB Umphrey :

It's very possible that the homeowner will hire an "expert" who will arrive at a different conclusion than you as to your duties and standard of care.

JACUSTOMER-23hhqolm- :

whats a bright-line policy?

JB Umphrey :

The policy you are seeking to adopt would be classified as "bright line."

JB Umphrey :

You want a clear that that establishes liability or not.

JB Umphrey :

And I am suggesting that such a policy / desired outcome is not always possible.

JB Umphrey :

Seriously, this is why people take out insurance.

JB Umphrey :

If it's not a valid claim, the insurance company will deny the homeowner's claim.

JB Umphrey :

You are trying to do the job of your insurance adjuster.

JB Umphrey :

And in doing so, you could set yourself up in a horrible pickle.

JB Umphrey :

You could find yourself in a situation where a court does find negligence but, because you didn't think there was and didn't inform your insurance carrier, your carrier denies coverage and you're left holding the financial bag.

JACUSTOMER-23hhqolm- :

I know ....in legal actions there can be any outcome....but I need a relavant policy that is fair to all....I can not just "pay out" from fear of any legal action ----there are too many out there that would want to "cash in" and take advantage.....Even owners that know of a defect and plan on having the defect repaired for free by hiring us to go up into the attic just to create damages.

JB Umphrey :

At that point, what's the point of having any insurance?

JB Umphrey :

Your first response should not be to "pay out" and that's not what insurance companies do.

JB Umphrey :

However, when a homeowner asserts a claim, your role is to forward it to your insurance carrier for further investigation.

JACUSTOMER-23hhqolm- :

OOH....I see, so when should I contact the insurance company, when action is taken or when any damage occurrs.?

JB Umphrey :

Insurance companies are savvy to homeowners such as you've described.

JB Umphrey :

You contact the insurance company when the homeowner wants you to cough up money for damages which you believe you are not responsible for.

JB Umphrey :

If you receive a letter from the homeowner's attorney, forwarded it to your insurance company.

JB Umphrey :

If you are sued in small claims court, forward it to your insurance company.

JB Umphrey :

Good luck and best wishes for better days ahead.

JB Umphrey :

I hope that you find this information to be helpful and this answer to be ACCEPTable!

JACUSTOMER-23hhqolm- :

That sounds good, now how about if I subcontracted the work.....would the subcontractor's insurance be responsible.....my contracts with my subs states that they are responsible for damages from their work

JB Umphrey :

That may be the case. You should always require your subs to provide you with a copy of their insurance policy and make sure that the insurance policy names you as an additional insured.

JACUSTOMER-23hhqolm- :

Good we have that. Good advice....particulary on the fact that if I do not notify my insurance company then they may back out.......Thank you.

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