If I am a contractor for a firm where I am assigned an office I am required to use and a power surge from an outlet destroyed my laptop, should they pay?

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If I am a contractor for a firm where I am assigned an office I am required to use and a power surge from an outlet destroyed my laptop, should they pay?

I am a contractor for a firm where I am assigned an office that I am required to use.The nature of the job does not require me to use my own laptop but it would be hard to do the job if I did not use mine. Last week the outlet in the office had a power surge and my laptop was destroyed (the motherboard was fried). Is there any chance that they are required to cover the replacement cost for the damaged property?

Asked on April 10, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, District of Columbia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is highly unlikely that the firm would have to pay for your laptop. First, a person or business entity is only responsible for property damage to the extent you can show they were at fault. Fault is predicated on either an intentional bad act or negligence, which is unreasonable carelessness. Unless you can show that the firm was aware of a significantly higher than normal probabilty of power surges, either in their office generally or from this outlet, and that notwithstanding this knowledge, they neither corrected the problem nor at least warned you, you would not be able to show any negligence or fault on their behalf.

Second, you may be precluded froom recovering due to your own negligence--those who use laptops should bring surge protectors with them (since many outlets at different locations where they might plug in won't have their own surge protectors) and use them. It may be the case that not having a plugging in through a surge protector would be deemed to be careless on your part, barring, or at least substantially reducing, any amounts you might otherwise be able to claim.


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