The Neighbor

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Q: A neighbor had previously done small jobs for us.  This time, we hired him to perform renovations to an apartment within our home.  The work included the installation of appliances.  While installing a vent on our roof, he fell from a ladder and suffered injuries that required several surgeries.

A: As the owners of a family dwelling, you essentially are exempt from the duties imposed under the Labor Law.  An exemption was enacted so that the law would be fairer and more nearly reflect the practical realities governing the relationship between homeowners and the individuals they hire to perform construction work on their homes.

On occasion, however, a homeowner’s conduct amounts to direction and control over the manner and method of the work to be performed.  Was your participation limited to discussion of the results you wished to see?  Or did it include the method or manner in which the work was to be performed?

Even if you directed your neighbor to place the vent through the roof, your attorney will point out that this was simply an aesthetic decision.  You did nothing more than what any ordinary homeowners would do in deciding how they wanted the home to look upon completion.

Your case is strongest if you provided no equipment or work materials and if you were not even present at the time he undertook the venting work, but these ‘plus factors’ are certainly not necessary.  Either way, the crux is whether the method and the manner of your neighbor’s work were left to his own judgment and experience.

Maybe your neighbor did not want to go up on the roof.  Maybe he expressed reluctance to go there.  Even so, he proceeded to go there, not at your specific direction, but of his own volition to complete this work.  You never exercised any supervisory control.

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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