By: Harris B. Katz, Esq. Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers
Q: My HOA has a two-year contract with a handyman that calls him an independent contractor. The contract says he will maintain liability and workers’ compensation insurance and furnish us with a copy of his county contractor’s license annually. I found out that he does not, in fact, have any workers’ compensation insurance and he does not have a county-issued license of any kind. The board is aware of the situation but is unconcerned. They say that under the law he doesn’t need to carry a workers’ compensation insurance because he doesn’t have any employees. I worry that we’re taking on unreasonable risk because the board is unwilling to do the right thing. If he gets seriously hurt on the property, I think we would be facing potentially disastrous consequences.
H.T., Boca Raton
A: Unfortunately, without additional information about what kind of work he is performing on the property and without knowing what his company is licensed to do, I cannot provide you with a specific response. However, I can provide you with some observations. First, as a general rule, employers conducting work in the State of Florida are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Specific employer coverage requirements are based on the type of industry, number of employees and entity organization. For a company engaged in the construction industry, workers’ compensation insurance is required if there are one (1) or more employees, including the owner of the business. For a company not in the construction industry, the law generally requires that it have four (4) or more employees, including the business owners. So, regarding your handyman, it would really hinge on what he is doing and which category he falls under for us to answer the question of whether he would be required to have workers’ compensation insurance. But, your board’s assumption would be incorrect to assume that just because he does not have employees that he absolutely does not need to carry workers’ compensation insurance. That being said, your concerns about what happens if the handyman gets hurt on your property is well-founded. A property owner can be sued if a contractor is injured while on the property. Based upon the fact that your handyman does not have workers’ compensation, the association is opening itself up to potential, unnecessary liability. When a contractor does not have proper insurance coverage, the property owner may be assuming the risks for their work mistakes and any injuries that may occur on the property. If, as you stated, the contract requires that he have the proper insurance and fails to do so, the board should take proper steps to ensure that he complies with the terms of the contract or consider hiring a new handyman who does carry the appropriate insurance, regardless of whether such contract language exists.
Harris B. Katz, Esq.., is Managing Partner, Boca Raton, of the Law Firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. Visit www.gadclaw.com or to ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: email@example.com. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.