What happens if a roofer is injured while putting a new roof on your house?

roofers_job_people_roof-1024x683When accidents occur on a construction site, questions of liability and responsibility arise, leaving property owners wondering about their potential legal obligations. In a compelling lawsuit from Alexandria, Louisiana, the issue of whether a homeowner can be held liable for injuries sustained by a roofer while working on their property takes center stage. The case of Robert Schram v. Ronnie Waters provides valuable insights into this perplexing matter, shedding light on the factors determining a homeowner’s liability when a roofer falls from their roof.

Robert Schram, an employee of Dan Baker, slipped and fell while working on a tin roof. He fell while trying to catch a nail gun thrown from the ground causing him to break his ankle. He sued the property owner, Ronnie Waters, and his insurer Colony Specialty Insurance Company (Colony), claiming Waters was liable for his injuries because he was supposed to provide the necessary safety materials for the job. 

The trial court granted Colony’s and Waters’s joint motion for summary judgment to dismiss the claims, which found no genuine issue of fact on the question of Waters’s liability. Schram appealed, claiming the trial judge committed a legal error in his decision because there are three issues of material fact concerning Waters’s negligence.

Under Louisiana Civil Code Article 2322, an owner is liable for damages upon showing he should have known, or in exercising reasonable care should have knowledge of the defect which caused the damage, which could have been prevented by exercising reasonable care. The appeals court reasoned Waters owed no duty to Schram because Schram admitted Waters never showed up to the construction project, nor did he give any instructions or authorizations for the project. Waters proved Schram could not show he had any control over the project. In addition, Schram could not show any defect in the project that Waters would have known of that would hold him liable for his injuries. Finally, Schram failed to exercise reasonable care to avoid slipping and falling while working. The appeals court upheld the trial court’s decision to grant the motion for summary judgment and dismissed Schram’s claims with prejudice.

This Louisiana Court of Appeals case highlights the difficulty that a roofer will have in pursuing a lawsuit against a homeowner if he falls off a roof while on the job. The Third Circuit Court of appeals affirmatively answered the question, is a HomeOwner Liable For Injuries if a roofer falls off his roof with a resounding no under these facts. 

In this case, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling addresses the question of homeowner liability when roofers suffer injuries while on the job. The court’s decision reinforces the principle that homeowners are not automatically held accountable for accidents occurring on their property when they have no direct involvement in the construction process and lack control over the worksite. This case serves as an important reminder that determining liability requires a comprehensive examination of the specific circumstances surrounding the incident, emphasizing the importance of clarifying legal obligations and responsibilities to ensure fairness and justice in workplace injury cases involving homeowners.

Additional Sources: Robert Schram v. Colony Specialty Insurance Company, et al.

Written by Berniard Law Firm Writer Alivia Rose

Additional Berniard Law Firm Article: When Coworkers Attack: Negligence Claims for Intentional Workplace Injuries

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