Bill Cerney
Client Executive
Gibson
South Bend, Ind.

It’s imperative to understand all insurance, indemnification and safety requirements in a contract. Take, for example, a subcontractor to a construction manager whose employee was injured on the jobsite. Workers’ compensation was the sole remedy for the employee against his employer; however, the employee sued the project owner for failing to provide a safe worksite. The owner tendered the claim to the construction manager, which tendered the claim to the contractor, which tendered the claim to the subcontractor.

An argument was made that the contract between the construction manager and the contractor required a safety professional to be onsite whenever work was performed by the contractor or its subcontractor, sub-subcontractor, etc., even if the contractor was not working onsite at the time. The contractor was found to have failed in its contractual duties and had to participate in the settlement.

Always involve your risk management and legal teams to evaluate and negotiate contractual terms.

Bill Evans
Director of Claims
Insurance Associates
Rockville, Md.

A recent workers’ compensation claim involving a crushed pinkie finger was a great example of how valuable a vigorous return-to-work program can be. In this instance, the employer worked closely with the treating doctor and the insurance carrier to ensure it offered a modified duty position that fell well within the worker’s medical limitations.

The employer went so far as to offer per diem and hotel accommodations because the temporary position was outside the worker’s usual working territory. Although the worker declined the position and appealed for continued temporary total disability benefits, the hearing examiner found that the claimant voluntarily limited his income and was not entitled to the requested benefits.

Getting injured workers back to duty before the lost-time waiting period runs out can make a huge impact on workers’ compensation premiums because most rating bureaus discount "medical only" claims up to 70 percent when calculating experience modification factors.

Steve Gaffney
Senior Vice President
Regions Insurance
Baton Rouge, La.

Most people think that with the huge amount of money they pay for insurance, they should be covered for everything. However, during the normal course of a construction project, contractors are subjected to several exposures that are not normally included in a general liability policy. Also, contractors often must sign a contract with the project owner that greatly expands the list of exposures. Always have your agent review your contracts before you sign them! Although the agent probably isn’t an attorney and can’t rewrite the contract, he or she is in the best position to inform you of what you should try to change. Also, they can provide quotes for additional coverage to include in cost of the bid.

Additionally, we regularly see allegations of violations of professional liability. If you don’t have a policy, you could be in a position of having to hire your own attorney to defend you. We strongly suggest the addition of a professional liability policy and, due to where our contractors work, a pollution liability policy.