Independent contractor can sue top contractor for injuries

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

If you thought that one advantage of using independent contractors was that those contractors couldn’t sue you for injuries suffered at work, think again.

Recent case: Fillner Construction contracted with Lane Supply, which in turn hired Perry Construction to install a canopy at a project site. Perry in turn hired Jeffrey Tverberg to erect the canopy. Holes that had been dug near where the canopy was to be installed were left uncovered, and Tverberg fell into one. He and his wife sued Fillner, alleging it had been negligent.

The company argued that the workers’ compensation system was the couple’s only remedy, but the California Court of Appeal disagreed.

It said California’s public policy permits an independent contractor injured on the job to sue the prime contractor on a project. (Tverberg v. Fillner Construction, No. A120050 California Court of Appeal, 2008) 

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