There’s no such thing as a small job. Whether a minor lobby repair or a major capital improvement, whenever a contractor is hired to work in a co-op or condominium, if the contractor or one of their employees gets injured, the corporation or association could find itself as a party in a lawsuit.
“The labor laws in New York are very strict, and they are not in the property owner’s favor. So realistically, the property owner is ultimately responsible for their site. If a contractor is injured, it usually goes back to the property owner even though they may not have been negligent,” explains Edward Mackoul, CIC, the president of Mackoul & Associates, Inc., an insurance brokerage in Island Park, New York.
Too often, even minor injuries lead to major legal issues. “In this society, everybody’s looking to sue,” says Peter Lehr, the director of property management at Kaled Management Corp. in Westbury. “You throw as many names as you can against the wall and see what sticks.”
And the stakes keep getting higher and higher. “Nobody sues for $1 million today,” says Mackoul. “They shoot for $5 million. And their spouse sues for loss of consortium,” which he explains is the deprivation of benefits to the family caused by the worker’s disability.
The good news is that by properly vetting contractors before you hire them and signing them to meticulously-detailed contracts, your building can ward off lawsuits or at least mitigate damages if an incident does wind up in the courtroom.