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Man Trips and Falls at Work

A construction company and a building owner asked for judgment without proceeding claiming that the accused, an insurance provider of the subcontractor electrical company, has a duty to support and cover them with respect to the law suit filed against them. However, the insurance provider filed a move to dismiss the complaint.

In the underlying personal injury action of a law suit against the complainants, a man alleges that he was injured while working at the premises of the building as a journeyman-electrician. He was providing voice and data communication work for an electrical company. The accident happened when he was doing a data testing terminations on the ninth floor of the premises. While he was exiting the restroom, he tripped on tarp and fall on the corridor floor. The said action was allegedly settled for $600,000 with defense costs evidently acquired by the construction company.

A New York Personal Injury Lawyer said that the construction company was the general contractor for the renovation project of the premises. The renovation project was owned by the other complainant and an electrical company subcontracted the electrical work by means of a purchase order agreement. The agreement between the construction company and the electrical company states that as subcontractor, the electrical company shall hold harmless, assure and support by the construction company and others as requested by the general contractor from and against any and all claims, damages, liabilities, losses and expenses, including reasonable attorney’s fees arising out of or occasioned by, or in any way connected with the work called for by the purchase order. The protection agreement will continue until the completion of the said project. The agreement also required the electrical company of commercial general liability insurance and it must name the construction company as an additional insured under the policy.

Based on the record, a Long Island Personal Injury Lawyer said that an insurance policy is a contract between the insurer and the insured. Therefore, the extent of coverage including a given policy’s priority contrary to other policies, are controlled by the relevant policy terms and not by the terms of the underlying trade contract that required the named insured to purchase the coverage.

The insurance provider, then, issued a commercial general liability insurance policy to the electrical company as the primary insured and the construction company was named as an additional insured under the policy.

The insurance provider of the construction company contacted the insurance provider of the electrical company to demand that they should support and cover the construction company in the underlying personal injury. The electrical company’s insurance provider responded the demand, in which it agreed to support both companies under a reservation of rights, but it undertook no action to assume the defense or to disclaim coverage on any specific grounds.

The construction company then instituted a third-party action against the sub-contractor electrical company for contractual remuneration, which was dismissed by the court. The court noted that the terms in the agreement between the construction company and the electrical company regarding contractual remuneration was unenforceable because it alleged to cover the construction company for its own negligence and the construction company could not show that it was free of negligence. The immediate action was initiated and the insurance provider of the electrical company for the first time, disclaimed coverage based on the court’s decision stating that the accident did not arise from electrical company’s work for the construction company.

In support of their motion, a Suffolk County Personal Injury Lawyer said that the construction company and the building owner argues that the occurrences of the man’s injuries convene coverage on the complainants as an additional party insured. A corporation, such as the electrical company can only act by its employees, and it is certain that the man was working as their employee at the time of his alleged injury. The electrical company’s insurance provider policy grants additional coverage to any entity to whom the company is required to provide such coverage with respect to liability arising out of the company’s work. As the man suffered injuries while in the course of his employment for the electrical company and agreed to provide additional insured coverage for loss arising out of its work, the construction company is entitled for support and remuneration from the insurance provider.

The construction company and the building owner further contend that the court’s earlier determination that the electrical company’s insurance provider was not obliged to cover the construction company in the underlying legal action does not prohibit in finding that the electrical company’s insurance provider is obligated to support and cover the construction company as additional insured in accordance to the terms of its policy with the electrical company. They also argue that the contractual remuneration language in the underlying action required the electrical company to provide remuneration for the construction company’s negligent acts or omissions, whereas the electrical company’s insurance provider’s policy is not so worded.

The counter objection of the insurance provider for the electrical company stated that the court’s earlier decision determined that the construction company was solely and exclusively responsible for the man’s injuries, and that, if the purchase order was intended to have the electrical company ensure the construction company for their own negligence, it would be void and unenforceable as against public policy. The insurance company also states that there is no indication that the electrical company is intended to ensure the construction company for the types of employee claims barred against employers under the workers’ compensation law, and the construction company cannot avoid its obligation to maintain a safe workplace or avoid liability by shifting the burden to the man’s employer and the employer’s insurance provider. In addition, the insurance provider states that even if the construction company were considering being as an additional insured, the insurance policy excludes employee claims.

The complainants’ contend that it is certain that the man’s accident happened when he tripped and fell on a tarp on his way out to the restroom while working on a construction project for the electrical company. Consequently, according to the construction company, the man’s injuries arose while engaged in performing his work at the job site. Therefore, the insurance provider is obligated to support and cover the complainants as an additional insured in accordance to its insurance policy with the electrical company. Lastly, the complainants maintain that since the insurance company failed to raise the employee exclusion provision in its denial letter, it is now irrelevant from avoiding defense and remuneration obligations based on that exclusion. Regardless of that provision being inapplicable to the additional insured, the only named insured under the policy is the electrical company.

The court ordered that the complainants’ motion for judgment without proceedings is granted. It is decided and declared that the insurance company has a duty to support and cover the complainants in the underlying personal injury action. It is also ordered that the accused parties’ counter motion to dismiss the complaint is denied. The issue of amount that the insurance provider shall reimburse to the complainants for the sums expended in supporting the underlying legal action is referred to a special referee to hear and report with recommendations, except that, in the event of and upon the filing of the provision of the parties, as permitted, the special referee or another person designated by the parties to serve as referee shall determine the issue.

A trip and fall accident can result in serious injuries. If you are injured due to negligence of other people, our legal team is capable of guiding you in pursuing legal actions. Even if we have indemnities to cover damages, unforeseen events always happen.

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