Contractor Falls Through Leaking Roof of Restaurant

Michael Talve, CEO

Written by
— Updated on October 30, 2017

leaking roofThis case involves a restaurant that hired a contractor to do routine waterproofing of its roof shingles and as-needed repairs to the restaurant’s air-conditioning system. The contractor was told to replace the compressor motor in an air-conditioner located on the roof of the restaurant. The contractor removed the old compressor and was trying to carry it to a place on the roof where he could lower it to the ground. When he stepped away from the air-conditioner with the compressor in his hands, the roofing collapsed and his entire body fell through the opening. He suffered several injuries including injuries to his left leg, lower back, and right shoulder, foot, knee, and hip. Subsequently, he had to undergo radiofrequency ablation for his pain. The owner of the restaurant knew that the roof was leaking and knew that the roof had at least one “soft spot.” The owner of the restaurant did not tell the contractor about the roof’s leakage or the soft spot before he started work. The employee sued the owner of the restaurant for pain and suffering and medical expenses, and the owner decided to sue the Tamko roof shingle company for allegedly poorly designed shingles.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Can an owner of a restaurant be held liable for the injuries of a contractor when it knew that there was a dangerous condition present before the contractor started doing work and it did not warn the contractor of the danger?

Expert Witness Response

If a property owner hires a contractor to do work on the property and knows there is a dangerous condition on the property and does not adequately warn the contractor about it, the owner is usually liable if the dangerous condition causes the contractor to suffer an injury. If a contractor suffers an injury making some type of improvement to a property and wants to hold the property owner liable, they generally must prove that the property owner had actual knowledge of a dangerous condition on the property and failed to warn the contractor about it. In this case, the owner of the restaurant is probably liable for the injury to the contractor because it knew that the roof was leaking and that the roof had a soft spot and did not tell the contractor about this. Since the restaurant owner’s failure to warn the contractor caused his injury, the restaurant owner is probably liable in this case. In cases where a dangerous condition is not obvious to a contractor, the owner of the property generally has a great duty to warn a contractor about the danger. This is because a property owner generally has a duty to exercise reasonable care to keep the premises in a safe condition for contractors. If a property owner keeps the premises in a dangerous condition, the property owner has a duty to provide a sufficient warning to a contractor about a danger that is not open and obvious.

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