PROPERTY OWNER NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR WORKER INJURIES
- Owner Not Liable To Window Washer For Injuries Sustained In Fall.
In the case of Delgadillo vs. Television CTR. Inc.,  20 Cal App. 5th 1078, the Court
of Appeal determined that when a property owner hires a licensed, independent contractor for window washing the property owner is not liable for injuries sustained by the contractor’s employees unless the owner’s affirmative conduct contributed to the injuries.
In this case the window washer died in the fall from the owner’s building. His surviving family sued the owner for negligence and negligence per se. The lawsuit alleged that the window washer was fatally injured because the owner failed to install structural roof anchors as required by regulations and statute to which the window washer could attach a descent apparatus.
The Trial Court and Court of Appeal determined that the installation of structural roof anchors was not a non-delegable duty of owner. The owner deligated to the contractor its duty to provide a safe work place for its’ employees.
The evidence showed that the owner did not direct how the window washing should be done or otherwise interfere with the means or methods of accomplishing the work. Thus the owner was not vicariously liable to the family of the deceased for negligence.
Comment: Comment: I have seen quite a number of cases over the years where a tree trimmer or window washer falls to their death. The underlining theme of the Plaintiff’s attorneys is that the owner directed how the tree trimming/window washing should be done or otherwise interfered with the means or methods of accomplishing the work. This is for the Plaintiff’s attorney to prove by preponderance of the evidence. If you are an owner stay the heck out of directing how the trees are to be trimmed or windows are to be washed or otherwise giving any directions to anyone who is on a ladder doing work at your house or business. Always, always hire a licensed contractor.
Yes that means personally checking the license. Go on the internet to make sure it is a valid license that has been issued by the proper entity. I remember a case several years ago where the business card of the tree trimmer who claimed he was a licensed contractor had a license number on the card. The homeowner was not aware that this was the tree trimmer’s city business license number and failed to look into whether the tree trimmer had a contractor’s license which is required for trimming trees over certain heights.
The problem was one of the tree trimmer’s who worked for the “unlicensed” contractor took a swan dive from about 45 feet high and was severely injured. The owner was not immune from liability because he/she hired an unlicensed contractor even though they were duped into thinking the person was licensed.
About the Author
Scott Souders is a real estate attorney who has practiced real estate law in excess of 42 years in Southern California. The Real Estate Law Update cites cases or statutes which are summarized and should not be relied upon without fully reading the cases or statute in the advance sheets and shepardizing the same and consulting with your own attorney.