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Hire ‘Casual’ Labor? Prepare to Pay for Injuries

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Businesses that hire “casual” labor should be sure to check with their insurance carriers or attorneys to see if they may be liable for any injuries that occur while the casual laborer is employed. If your business has subscribed to the workers’ comp system, check to make sure the casual laborer is covered by your policy.

If the business isn’t part of the workers’ comp system, check whether your errors and omissions or other insurance policies will cover any injuries caused by company negligence. As the following case shows, the damages for even a minor injury can add up.

Recent case: The owner of Elite Auto Sales arranged with Santos Nunez to work on a remodeling project. The owner’s husband supplied a ladder for Nunez to climb while putting garbage in a dumpster.

Nunez fell and couldn’t work for 13 months due to a broken ankle. He sued, alleging that Elite Auto Sales had provided a defective ladder. The trial court concluded the ladder was defective and that the business hadn’t provided a safe work environment. It ordered the company to pay $25,000, including $10,000 in lost wages and $10,000 for physical pain. (Kim v. Nunez, No. 01-05-00636-CV, Court of Appeals of Texas, First District, 2007)  

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