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mrwiseguy85 02-26-2014 02:50 PM

General Contractor and Workers Comp. Question
I currently live in Southern California and am evaluating general contractors for a full bathroom remodel. I have found one general contractor who is licensed with the Contractor State Licensing Board (CSLB) and has very favorable reviews on Angie's List. I've met him in person and have a good impression, and believe he is offering a thorough and competitively priced bid.

I've hit a red flag that's kept me from hiring him. He does have an active CLSB license, general liability insurance ($1mil policy), and contractor's bond for $12,500. What caught my attention is on the CSLB, it shows he does not have a worker's compensation policy because he is labeled as 'exempt' (meaning he has no employees which would require a policy).

I asked the contractor about this and he said his 'workers' are covered with medical insurance. He used the term 'workers' but did not clarify if they were 'employees' or sub-contractors. I told him the workers compensation is a sticking point for me because I have family working in the field of civil law (court reporters) and they have seen many instances of workers comp. cases hitting the homeowner. He mentioned something along the lines of the contract that we'd sign would release me (the homeowner) of any liabilities.

I am really unfamiliar with workers compensation laws and more specifically the relationship between the homeowner, the general contractor, employees of the general contractor, or sub-contractors of the general contractor. Everything else looks to be in-line, I just don't know if I am paranoid about the matter, or if I am right in being worried about liability.

Does anyone have any experience with this topic or could provide some context for the matter?


havasu 02-26-2014 03:10 PM

I had several subs doing some work at my house and before anyone set foot on my property, I would require them to sign waivers stating that I would not be held responsible if anyone was to get injured on my property. You can also contact your insurance company and for a few bucks, you could increase coverage to protect certain individuals.

oldognewtrick 02-26-2014 03:23 PM

Wavers may not exempt you from a workers injury claim. Before you hire a contractor, have their insurance company generate a certificate with you listed on it. Contractors cannot give you a generic coverage sheet proving you are covered. Exemption is for sole proprietors only and his employees are fair game to sue you if injury occurs. If he is unwilling to get work comp, find someone else in my opinion.

Chris 02-26-2014 04:56 PM

OK I am a contractor in Southern CA.

If he has any workers or employees he must have work comp insurance, he can not cover them any other way legally. You can do what Havasu says and up your insurance to cover them but then it is you that is covering them and there is nothing stopping them from suing you. You will be taking on the risk. I would do what Oldog says and request a cert naming you as additional insured, It costs him nothing and it will prove he has insurance. Also if he cannot get one I would not use him.

The cert will be an Acord certificate of insurance form. PM me if you need details.

oldognewtrick 02-26-2014 05:19 PM

All the time I see other roofing companies give a certificate to a customer that does not list them as additional insured. When I explain to the customer they might just as well be given a copy of the comic page from Sundays newspaper, most of the time the light goes on. I have certificates sent out all the time, it cost nothing to do so. Low ball offers, no work comp, not pulling permits, not specifying materials to be used... all set you up for failure on many levels.

Speedbump 02-27-2014 07:58 AM

I wouldn't put a lot of faith in someone because of Angies list.

If we could do away with Workers Compensation, we would be putting thousands of Lawyers in the bread lines.

Anyone can sue anyone for anything. That's the problem. I just wonder if there is any way your Homeowners Insurance would cover something like that? Probably not though.

Wuzzat? 02-27-2014 12:48 PM

To find some approximation of the truth, ask state/federal agencies and organizations that are at odds, and those in favor, of compensating people. From their statements you will get the correct questions to ask everybody.

You could also ask the forum at expertlaw. They helped me once on employment law.

Workman's Comp laws may be something like the U.S. Tax Code; not rational or logical and a patchwork of compromises worked out by politicians with various agendas who owed favors to God knows who.

And that's only what's on paper. What actually happens is a whole 'nother thing.

If you want to see the people from the above-mentioned agencies and orgs run from you so fast that the windows are sucked out of their buildings, ask for sworn statements. :D

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