In GeGeorgia, am i liable if a contractor i hired damaged my neighbor’s property?

I hired a tree service to cut down trees on my
property. My husband and I walked the property and
clearly indicated which trees were to be cut down. He
was going to work while we were at work. One day he
sent a friend of his because he could not come. He
did not ok this with us first. This friend cut down
trees on my neighbors property. Now the neighbor
wants money from us in compensation.

Asked on June 5, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you should not be liable for the actions of a contractor hired by you: you are not the contractor's employer (just a customer) and do not have a sufficiently close connection to, or enough power over, the contractor as to be responsible for his actions, unless and only if you were in fact "at fault" in them in some way: e.g. you had told the contractor to cut down those trees. However, you indicate that you did not; that in fact, the contractor violated your instructions in cutting down those trees. Under those facts, you should not be liable or responsible for the contractor's act(s); the neighbor should be suing the contractor, not you.
The above said: anyone can file a lawsuit, even a losing one--the courts do not pre-screen lawsuits to ensure validity. Therefore, even though based on what you write, you appear to have a good defense, that will not stop the neighbor from suing you if he wants and forcing you to respond to it. If he does sue, hire an attorney and respond appropriately and forcefully; if you don't respond, then though you would have a good defense, they will win "by default" and get a judgment against you.

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