Injuries by Contractors in Florida
Construction sites are inherently dangerous places. During construction, there is always a danger of anyone at the site being injured. Whether it is from heavy equipment being moved around, tools being dropped from heights or scaffolding collapsing, the danger is omnipresent. There is also very real danger after the construction project is finished. If the contractor used poor-quality materials or used unapproved construction methods, the building or object that was constructed could partially or catastrophically fail, thereby injuring the occupants or passersby.
But what if the contractor isn’t even licensed to perform construction in the state or local jurisdiction? How does Florida deal with these contractors who put both construction personnel, as well as passersby, at risk of sustaining serious injuries?
Licensed Versus Unlicensed Contractors
The danger that unlicensed contractors pose is often understated. To understand why, it must first be stated that reputable contractors require years of training and experience to gain the expertise necessary to become licensed in the state of Florida. They must also pass stringent exams and carry specified amounts of insurance and bonds. All of this is to ensure that the projects they undertake are safe and built according to the standards that have been deemed appropriate by years of scientific and engineering testing. This is spearheaded by the desire of everyone to live in a house or visit buildings that are safe. Beyond this, while construction is ongoing, contractors are required to comply with state and federal regulations about the conduct of their job sites. They have to maintain workers’ compensation insurance on their employees and many (as a result of insurance requirements) complete regular safety training for their employees.
All of this goes out the proverbial window when unlicensed contractors are involved in a project. There is no way to certify that they have the requisite knowledge or ability to undertake the project they are working on. Further, there is also no assurance that they know how to maintain a safe work environment. To this end, Florida has a law on the books that imposes increased liability on this type of “contractor.”
Florida’s Unlicensed Contractor Law
Florida’s law gives extra protection to consumers who are injured by unlicensed contractors. The law provides that the consumer is entitled to three times the compensatory damages awarded to them in an action against an unlicensed contractor if they are injured by the negligence, malfeasance or misfeasance of a contractor who is neither certified by the state nor licensed in the jurisdiction in which the work is done. This is done to deter unscrupulous companies and individuals from working outside of the law (being unlicensed and uncertified) and then causing injury either by poor work product or unsafe conditions and only being liable to the same extent as any other contractor.
Obviously, it behooves a consumer to use a licensed and certified contractor. This cannot always be determined to a certainty, however. Using an unlicensed contractor creates a heightened risk of injury both during the construction product and during the life of the structure. If you are in the Tallahassee area and you’ve been injured by a contractor’s poor work or unsafe practices (whether they were licensed or not), you owe it to yourself to seek out great representation. The professionals at Barrett, Fasig & Brooks have been representing clients with personal injuries for decades. Call us at either (850) 222-3232 to set up your free consultation. Let us analyze your case and create a strategy that is best suited to get you the results you deserve.