If my brother was cutting a tree for on someone else’s property and got seriously injured, how can he get their homeowner’s insurer to pay?

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If my brother was cutting a tree for on someone else’s property and got seriously injured, how can he get their homeowner’s insurer to pay?

My brother was hired to cut a tree by some people at their home. He was using their chainsaw and ladder. While he was on the ladder, about 50 foot in the air cutting the tree, it twisted and broke causing him and the ladder to fall. The fall broke his pelvis in 5 places and his arm in 4 places and dislocated his elbow. How can he get the peoples home-owners insurance pay the doctor bills and for other things

Asked on July 29, 2017 under Personal Injury, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The attorneys are correct. A property owner does not act as an "insurer" for those who come onto their property or do work there; that is, the property owner is NOT liable for all injuries that occur on their property, but rather only for ones for which they were at fault in causing it. And the property owner's insurer has no obligation to anyone but the property owner: the insurer's role is to defend the property owner in court, or settle cases ahead of trial IF the insurer, in its sole discretion, things it's worthwhile to settle them (typically, that means the insurer thinks the person suing might win, so better to offer them money before having to go to the cost of trial), or to pay the judgment (money ordered to be paid by the court) after trial, if any--in short, the insurer looks after their insurered's interest, not other people's.
Putting it together: the insurer won't pay unless your brother sues and either wins or at least looks like he has a reasonable chance of winning. To have a chance of winning, he'd have to:
1) Show that the homeowner was at fault in some way. In this case, that would mean showing that the homeowner *knew* or logically *must* have known that the ladder was damaged or defective but let your brother use it anyway. If the homeowner knowingly allowed your brother to use a damaged/defective ladder, that was negligent or careless and could make the homeowner liable.
2) And also how that your brother was not at fault, since even if the homeowner was at fault, your brother's fault could essentially cancel that out so that he is not entitled to money. (The law does not reward people for their own carelessness.)
This may be very difficult to do--to show your brother was not at fault. To climb a ladder 50' up to cut a tree with a chainsaw while not using a safety harness and rope is essentially negligent or careless, since the probability of serious injury (or death) is relatively  high. A court could conclude that your brother bore substantial responsibility for his own injury and not award him any money, which means also that an insurer may refuse to voluntarily pay him anything.


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