Homeowner Not Liable In Construction Accident

In a recent New Jersey Federal court decision, a homeowner was sued when a contractor’s employee was injured while using the contractor’s table saw in the course of remodeling the homeowner’s bathroom. The employee also sued the contractor and the saw manufacturer.  The claim against the saw manufacturer was settled.

The homeowner moved for summary judgment, arguing that there was no basis for imposing liability on the homeowner since he had not retained control of the manner or means of the work performed and his retention of general supervisory power over the work was insufficient for the imposition of liability. The court agreed, noting that even assuming that the contractor was incompetent or unskilled, there was no evidence that the homeowner was aware of that fact.  It also considered that the use of a table saw was nothing more than a risk inherent in the work for which the contractor was retained and was not a particular risk unique to the construction project. The lawsuit against the homeowner was therefore dismissed.

The lesson here is that the homeowner is not automatically liable just because the accident occurred in his home.
Rather, the injured party needs to convince the court that the homeowner did something wrong that led to the accident.

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