An employee of an uninsured independent contractor can collect Workers’ Compensation

This is a non published appellate court case

This is a very significant case for workers’ compensation principles.

A homeowner hired a Tree Care service to remove a tree and trim four other trees. The owner of the tree service was not licensed. He advertised on Yelp that he was bonded and insured. He did not have workers’ compensation insurance.

The owner of the tree service showed up at the homeowners property with a worker to do the work. The homeowner did not know the tree service owner brought a worker to assist.

The worker fell 10 feet off a ladder injuring himself. The injured worker brought a civil suit. The homeowner moved for summary judgment claiming the injured worker was not his employee but an independent contractor.

The summary judgment was granted. The superior court indicated that the homeowner was vicariously liable because the tree service owner did not secure workers’ compensation insurance. They ruled an employee of a negligent contractor can recover under the workers’ compensation system even if the contractor is uninsured. The injured worker can recover against the homeowner.

The court looked at Labor Code section 2750.5 and still ruled the injured worker was an employee of an uninsured independent contractor. Therefore, the homeowner was liable under the workers’ compensation system.

Case: Escalera v. Tung

Harvey Brown
3501 Jamboree Rd. Suite 602
Newport Beach, CA 92660

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