COURT FINDS SUBCONTRACTOR AT FAULT FOR CONDO FIRE
Subcontractor Found at Fault
The Third District Court of Appeal in Miami has ruled that a subcontractor was at fault for a fire that started within a condo during its renovation. According to the court facts, painters hired by the Brother’s Painting and Pressure Cleaning Corp, acted negligently when they failed to properly dispose of a stain-soaked rag, which was placed inside a plastic trashcan. Somehow the rag caught fire and led to damages to the condominium’s interior. Meanwhile, the court has ruled that the general contractor is a passive actor in the case and worthy of indemnification on the grounds that the subcontractor was hired to carry out the painting work without causing property damage or injury to its dwellers. However, the subcontractors disagree on the basis that the general contractor was indeed negligent, and no indemnification is owed for damages to the condo. The final ruling is awaiting confirmation by the Circuit Court for Monroe County.
Services Providers and Liability
Much like doctors and healthcare practitioners, service providers such as painters, plumbers, electricians, etc., owe a duty of care to perform services which do not endanger individuals or damage the property they are hired to serve. Acts of negligence on behalf of service providers which can be proven in a court of law may lead to indemnification by the service provider, general contractor or subcontractor, depending on who is found at fault for injuries, damages or losses to their clients. Bad wiring by an electrician can lead to death by electrocution or even fire which can lead to severe injuries and/or property damage. A faulty plumbing job can easily endanger lives or cause flooding and leakage that leads to further damages and losses. General contractors and subcontractors owe a duty to provide qualified service providers that perform tasks which do not endanger individuals or may lead to property damage. Service providers such as plumbers and electricians are required by law to be certified professionals. Thus, acts of negligence on their behalf can merit an insurance claim to compensate for injuries, damages, or losses that stem from the services they provide to clients or customers.
A Quick Guide to Legal Action Against a Service Provider
Situations that require the services of an electrician or plumber usually develop from emergency situations and with haste comes waste. Hiring a professional for emergency repairs can be risky business as emergency work to fix a leaky pipe or blown fuse box can usually be a temporary fix. Individuals requiring emergency services by an electrician or plumber should always request a written cost estimate prior to any work that needs to be done and any materials needed to carry out the job. Firstly, having a written work and cost estimate helps protect the client in the event that the services rendered unjustifiably exceed the estimated cost. Furthermore, a written cost estimate provides proof of the services to be rendered and helps in the event of legal action to be taken against the service provider for negligence that leads to injuries, damages or losses. The second most important thing to do when hiring an electrician, painter, plumber, roofer, etc., is to make sure they are licensed and insured. In emergency situations, clients may quickly overlook the fact that the service provider may not be a certified or licensed professional, and thus not carry insurance to cover acts of negligence on their behalf. In other words, if you hire someone to do emergency repair work to fix a leaky faucet in the middle of the night, find out first if they are licensed. If not, do not hire them. It’s best to take the time to find a certified professional that carries insurance to cover damages or losses from poorly rendered services. When hiring a service provider to carry out emergency repairs, you are free to choose another professional to finish the job, especially if you are not satisfied with their work or you discover that they are not professionally certified or insured. Thirdly, avoid signing anything without making sure you understand and agree with what you are signing. It is important to remember that written agreements are binding and may help protect the service provider regardless of evident negligence on their behalf.
To recap, when hiring a service provider for emergency repairs it is best to:
- Find out if the service provider is licensed and insured.
- Request a written work and cost estimates prior to starting any repair work.
- Do not enter into written agreements with the service provider until making sure you fully understand what it is you are signing.
- Take before & after pictures of the problem that needs repair or service to help back-up a claim for poorly rendered services.
Also, don’t wait for an emergency situation in the middle of the night to find a reputable and trustworthy service provider such as an electrician, plumber or roofer. Take the time to seek out a licensed professional and keep their contact information handy for when an emergency situation arises.
Can you sue an electrician, plumber or roofer for poorly rendered service?
-Yes, you can. However, it depends on the proof gathered to back up a claim and the amount of time that has passed since the work was performed. If a plumber poorly repairs or carries out a service that leads to damages such as leakage, which may ruin dry walls or causes loose floor boards, this would have to be backed up by another plumber (licensed) by way of a documented inspection process. This professional would have to agree to testify in a small claims court. It is important, unless absolutely vital, to not have any work that was poorly carried out repaired or redone. This can be considered destruction of evidence in the event a suit to mitigate damages is filed. The assistance of a professional and experienced attorney should be obtained in order to verify if there are grounds for a lawsuit, as well as to provide vital insight on how to proceed. Furthermore, hiring a trusted lawyer will greatly improve the chances of recovery and is highly recommended in any situation that requires legal action against a services provider. If you carry homeowners insurance, you should contact your insurance provider and report the matter. In most cases the insurance provider will resolve the matter between the property owner and the service provider. In the event of injury or wrongful death from a negligent service provider, the service provider may be liable for compensation through his/her own insurance provider should they carry insurance.
How to Verify a Good Case
Service providers owe a duty to their clients to deliver services that do not endanger others or cause property damage which leads to economic losses. Contract information is vital for determining what was expected and agreed upon in terms of services and costs on behalf of individuals, general contractors or subcontractors. Written agreements for services are binding and weigh heavily in court, whereas oral agreements are hard to prove. This agreement can include service delivery time frames, payment terms and service warranty. Breach of contract merits proof when a service provider fails to carry out the work accordingly to timeline, costs, and quality. Any damages stemming from poorly carried out work must be proven through photos and testimony by a certified professional hired to inspect the work that was done on behalf of the services provider.
Settling out of Court
Though it is always best to resolve a dispute outside of a courtroom, some situations require legal action and assistance. However, hiring a mediator can sometimes help when there is little doubt that a service provider acted negligently and caused property damage. Furthermore, service providers don’t want to be sued or taken to court, especially general contractors and subcontractors, which improves the chances of settling a small claims dispute out of court. Nevertheless, compensation for costly damages to walls, flooring, ceiling, or electrical installations as a result of negligence by the service provider or party at fault will most likely end up in court. In this case, hiring a legal professional to handle the claim is highly recommended – either to litigate against an insurance provider or the negligent party’s attorney.
Hiring a trusted and experienced attorney greatly improves the chances of a successful claim for compensation for damages to property due to poor service delivery by any of the following:
- Air Conditioning Technicians
- Civil Engineers
- Cleaning Staff
- General Maintenance Staff
- Heating Technicians
- Pipe Fitters
- Plaster and Stucco Masons
- Sheet Metal Workers
- Tile Setters
- And More…
What to Expect from Legal Action against a Service Provider
Filing suit against an individual, which will usually include issuing a 558 letter, may not necessarily require the help of an experienced attorney; not unless the other party has one. If the party you are trying to sue or is suing you, you will need professional legal counsel. Property Damage claims for compensation will most involve insurance providers, and they have lawyers. Going into a courtroom for a legal battle is not something you want to embark upon alone. An experienced and dedicated lawyer will handle every aspect of your case and help guide you through the complex legal process, aiming to deliver the best possible legal representation when filing a claim for compensation from property damage and negligent service providers. Property damage victims can refer to Florida Statute 558 for detailed information on construction defects and which aims to resolve construction disputes and protect property owners from negligent individuals operating in the vast construction industry and market.
In Miami, the Perazzo Law Firm handles insurance claims for compensation from negligence by individuals and businesses that results in injury, damage and losses. If you, a friend or relative has fallen victim to a poor service provider whose negligence resulted in damages to your property, the Perazzo Law Firm suggests you contact us ONLINE for a FREE initial consultation and ZERO OUT-OF-POCKET COSTS to our property damage clients. Our fully dedicated staff in Miami and North Miami Beach serves the entire Miami-Dade and Broward County community and Jonathan Perazzo, founder of the Perazzo Law Firm, strives to be the best personal injury lawyer in Miami.
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