Careful with my Broom

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Q: I am employed by a roofing contractor. As a preliminary to applying the roofing felt and the shingles, I must identify the rotted areas and patch them. For a patch, the homeowner told me to use her own plywood. After I had done this on one side of the roof, the plywood ran out. The owner wanted to pay for no more. She told me to use pieces of the old roof-decking material, instead. After I had applied the roofing felt, but before I could begin the shingling, it began to snow. “Finish it right away,” said the owner, “or I won’t be paying you!” She gave me a broom, for sweeping away the snow. “Be careful, it means a lot to me!” I went back up and was doing my best to sweep away the snow. Eventually, I stepped on a piece of the old wood decking. It gave way, causing me to fall. Permit me to add that, before I began the actual roof work, the owner took me aside and asked me to seal her gutters, first. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you.” She was insistent, so I did.

A: In a roofing accident, although the Labor Law makes many owners liable for your damages, it grants an exception for owners of one- and two-family dwellings who do not direct or control the work. In your case, the homeowner’s activities went well beyond those of a normal interested homeowner. She did far more than simply present ideas, make mild observations and casually inspect the work. The owner’s direction to reuse her old planking rather than install new plywood was a material contributing factor in your injury. In general, she interfered with the manner of your performance. The owner’s intermeddling constituted direction and control that is sufficient to remove the homeowner’s exemption that otherwise exists under the Labor Law.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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