Saint Stephen, SC asked in Workers' Compensation, Construction Law and Insurance Defense for South Carolina

Q: independent contractor or subcontractor for workman’s comp

I’m a homeowner trying to have a shed built. Anyone I’ve interviewed does not carry workman’s comp insurance. I believe if an employer has more than 4 employees they must carry workman’s comp but in reality that is not often. Can a company I hire to build a shed be classified as an independent contractor? If I hire an idp. Contractor and he brings a helper who’s responsible for the workers insurance? I’m providing details of finished job and paying when work is complete but will not be directing any employees or providing tools. If an employee of the company falls off the roof am I liable? The foundation for the shed is poured but the rest of the shed will be built by one company/person. Will this company be considered a sub and me the general contractor or the company an independent contractor? Is the only way to limit liability is by getting workers comp myself if I can’t find someone that carries it?

1 Lawyer Answer

Ilene Stacey King

Answered
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyer
  • COLUMBIA, SC
  • Licensed in South Carolina

A: Are you a homeowner or property owner building a shed on your property, or are you in the business of building sheds? If building sheds something you do as part of your business, then you might be considered a general contractor. If you are a property owner hiring a company to build a shed for you on your property, and building sheds is not part of your business, then you are not a general contractor. If you are a general contractor and the sub does not carry workers' comp, then you have workers' comp liability. If you are a property owner hiring a company to build a shed for you, you do not have workers' comp liability. You do not have employees to cover as the employees of the company building the shed for you are not your statutory employees (i.e., they are not deemed employees by way of your relationship with their employer). The company you hire is liable for injuries to their employees. If they should have workers' comp coverage and do not, they are still liable (and subject to fines). If they do not have to have workers' comp coverage, they are liable for their own negligence. Your liability is as a property owner and your homeowners or other liability insurance covering your property would be the applicable insurance. You would only be liable for an injury to someone getting hurt on your property if you were negligent in some way. That doesn't mean you can't be sued - it's a question of whether you could be successfully sued. So, if you are a property owner and not in the business of building sheds, then what you need to be sure you have is homeowners or other applicable property liability insurance - not workers' comp. If you are in the business of building sheds, then you should consider getting workers' comp coverage for subs you hire.

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