Roofing Law

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Fall Protection and Liability

As roofing lawyers, we are committed to providing roofing industry employers with the legal advice they need to grow and protect their business. We often discuss fall restraint systems and other forms of roof protection, including fall protection anchor points, because we know that the proper use of these resources can protect the workforce, save lives, and protect employers from liability. In this article, a roofing lawyer will discuss the main types of litigation an employer may experience if they are involved in a dispute that involves fall protection. 

As the primary cause of death in roofing, it’s critical that employers do everything in their power to provide reliable fall restraint systems for their employees. For legal representation, consult the attorneys at Cotney Attorneys & Consultants. 

OSHA Citations

One of the most common forms of liability involving fall protection is that negligent employers can receive a citation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Whether a worker reports a fall protection issue to OSHA or an OSHA inspector uncovers a fall protection violation during an inspection, an employer can receive a costly fine for violating any form of fall protection. In fact, this is the most common reason why a contractor receives a citation. Similarly, failure to train your employees on fall protection requirements can also result in a citation. For OSHA defense against a citation, consult a roofing lawyer.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

When an employee experiences a work-related injury, they have the right to file a claim under the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA). Roofing insurance is not required in every state, but all roofing employers should obtain insurance for several reasons, as roofing is dangerous work and your business needs protection. If a worker is seriously injured on the job, workers’ compensation provides them with the compensation they need when they are away from work. Workers’ comp also provides the employees with access and funding to receive the medical attention they need during their recovery. Consult a roofing lawyer to learn more about obtaining general liability and workers’ compensation roofing insurance

Related: What Types of Insurance Should Roofers Have and Why? 

Civil Action

If a worker is injured on the job and the fall protection system they were issued is to blame, they have the right to pursue civil action. For example, if the worker was severely injured, they may have a right to compensation for their medical bills, loss of income, or the future loss of income. In some cases, an employee may file both a workers’ compensation claim and a lawsuit. In other cases, they may file a lawsuit instead of a workers’ compensation claim, as the damages they could seek on a workers’ compensation claim may be limited. If a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is filed against your company, you need to take immediate steps to defend yourself. A roofing lawyer can provide you with accurate legal advice and work with you to find a quick resolution to the lawsuit.  

Product Liability Cases

Along with the liability contractors face on the jobsite, manufacturers and distributors also face liability lawsuits for fall protection equipment. For example, if a product has a defective design and a worker is injured because of this defect, they would have a case against a manufacturer. In other cases, a product may have a manufacturing defect, meaning that the original design of the product is safe, but a mistake was made during the manufacturing process that renders the product unsafe. This the most common type of product liability claim. Lastly, a product liability case can be made if a product fails to provide the individual using the item with a warning that the product presents some form of inherent danger. 

Negligence Cases

An employer can be held legally responsible for an injury an employee suffered if it’s proven that the employer failed to act responsibly and their actions led to the injury. There are four elements to a negligence case:

  • Duty: it was the employer’s legal duty to provide the plaintiff with due care 
  • Breach of Duty: the employer breached this legal responsibility
  • Causation: the employer’s negligence caused the injury to occur
  • Damages: the plaintiff was injured because of this negligence 

As these are uncertain times in the industry, employers need to do everything in their power to reduce liability and provide their employees with a safe workplace. Although there may be new challenges presented to employers, for roofing contractors, successful fall protection practices and safety initiatives remain a priority. If your business is facing potential liability related to a fall protection issue, consult a roofing lawyer with Cotney Attorneys & Consultants. Our attorneys can review your roofing contract, provide you with accurate legal counsel, and represent you in any litigation matters. 

If you would like to speak with an experienced roofing attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.