Although injured workers must normally recover financial compensation from their employers through Florida workers’ compensation, an independent contractor may be able to recover for workplace injuries through a personal injury case. One federal appeals court recently dismissed a case that was brought in federal court involving an independent contractor who slipped and fell at a worksite. The court considered whether the hazard was one that the defendant was required to address or at least warn the plaintiff of.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff suffered a severe knee injury when he slipped on fluid at an auto dealership that the defendant owned. The auto dealership hired a cleaning company to clean the dealership, including scrubbing all service floors six times a week with a degreasing chemical provided by the dealership. The plaintiff was an employee of the cleaning company and was going to take out the trash at the dealership before scrubbing the floors in the service area when he slipped and fell on liquid on the floor. It appeared to be oil or transmission fluid. The plaintiff claimed that the dealership failed to warn the plaintiff of the hazardous condition, and that it failed to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition.
The court found that the defendant could not be held liable because the plaintiff was hurt by a hazard that he was required to remedy. The court stated that a property owner generally has the same duty to the employees of independent contractors as it does to all other lawful visitors — to take reasonable and appropriate steps to prevent injury under the circumstances. However, in the case of independent contractors, property owners are not liable for risks that are “inherent in the job and of which the employee is fully aware.” That is, if a person is hired to remedy a hazard, that person would normally be aware of the potential of injury from that hazard. In contrast with the general public, that person would be aware of the risk they faced.
The court found that in this case the plaintiff was injured by a risk inherent in the job he was hired to perform as an independent contractor. The company was hired to clean the service area floors, and the plaintiff testified that there was oil and grease all over the floor. The plaintiff “knowingly and voluntarily undertook” the risk he encountered. Even if there was a pallet that blocked his view of the liquid, the presence of the pallet should have only made the plaintiff more careful. Because the plaintiff himself stated that oil could be anywhere on the floor, the hazard he slipped on was the very hazard he was there to clean up. Therefore, the case was dismissed.
Contact a Miami Slip and Fall Attorney
If you have been injured in a Florida slip and fall or other accident, contact an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible. The personal injury attorneys at Friedman, Rodman, & Frank, P.A. have over 100 years of combined experience pursuing personal injury claims. We offer a strong voice to help accident victims hold property owners accountable for their negligent actions. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whether you were the victim of a slip and fall accident or another type of accident, call us at 305-448-8585 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.