Kinsman v. Unocal Asbestos case: Landowner Liability and Premises Hazards
Read the discussion in the Kinsman v. Unocal asbestos case, where landowner liability and premises hazards are discussed.
Unocal, following the Court of Appeal, further contends that what hazards existed on the jobsite were created by other independent contractors and were not Unocal’s responsibility. We agree in the abstract that a landowner that does not retain control is not liable for an injury inflicted by an independent contractor or its employees on the employee of another independent contractor.
As discussed, Privette recognized the rule at common law that “a person who hired an independent contractor generally was not liable to third parties for injuries caused by the contractor’s negligence in performing the work.”
That rule was eventually limited by the need to fairly compensate the victims of the contractor’s negligence, but that limitation is unnecessary when workers’ compensation benefits, paid for indirectly by the hirer in the cost of the job, are available.
Such is the case here, because workers’ compensation coverage insures against all injuries in the course of employment, including injuries inflicted by employees of other contractors.
Therefore, although the policy considerations are not identical to those in Privette in every respect, they point to a similar conclusion: that, as at common law, the hirer/landowner who has not retained control over the work should not be derivatively or vicariously liable for injuries contemporaneously inflicted by an independent contractor on another contractor’s employee.As elaborated below, however, Kinsman argues there is no evidence that other independent contractors’ negligence led to his injury.
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