If the contractor follows the homeowner’s instructions, can the contractor be held liable simply because he worked on the project? For instance, a contractor discovers a crack forming in a furnace. He tells the owner and the owner promises to get it fixed. A month passes and the homeowner doesn’t fix the problem. The furnace explodes and the homeowner is dead. The homeowner’s estate sues you because you worked on part of the furnace. You explain what happened but your only proof is your recollection of a conversation with a dead person. Do you want to be put in this situation? How could the contractor have protect himself? The best step is to have the homeowner sign a waiver and release before leaving the job. A possible release is set forth below:
FULL WAIVER AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY
I, [owner], have been duly warned by [contractor], on [date], that [problem] exists on my property located at [address]. [Contractor] has advised me of a problem involving [problem] which has a potential for causing [danger]. [Contractor] has advised me that if this problem is not fixed, it could result in death or harmful injury to myself and others. At this point, I do not wish [contractor] to perform the necessary repairs. My signature below acknowledges that I have been advised of the problem described above, that I understand the risks involved, that I release [contractor] from any possible liability, and I take responsibility to warn and protect other persons who may be affected by the danger.
[Signature of owner]
The above waiver should be presented to the owner as soon as he declines to fix the problem.
This article is meant as general knowledge and not meant to substitute for legal advice on specific issues. If you have a question, please call Doug McClanahan at 861-0693.