Personal injuries are quite common. They can happen in the blink of an eye and be pretty severe. If someone is not careful, an injury could be a life altering event. Recently, a carpenter in Massachusetts attempted to file a personal injury case after cutting off his own thumb. However, the case was thrown out due to his own personal negligence. The homeowner, Lisa Stone, had her own general contractor who then hired William Aulson to be an independent contractor. The initial complaint from Aulson was that Stone simultaneously had other consultation work going on throughout her house at the same time Aulson was working. Aulson’s complaint stated that due to the other consultation happening, he did not have the proper space to work. Due to the lack of space, instead of having the buzz saw on a table for proper use, Aulson placed it on the floor where it was not properly restrained. Another party pulled on the saw’s power cord, causing it to jerk back and cut off Aulson’s thumb. Aulson argued that Stone should be held responsible for his thumb being severed and the case was taken to the appellate court.
Ultimately, the court decided that it was not the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure Aulson’s safety. During their panel, the court stated, “Here, the homeowner’s contract with the general contractor expressly allocated responsibility for the renovation to the contractor…Pursuant to the contract, the contractor alone was required to furnish all materials, to perform all the work, to obtain all permits, and to ensure the work was completed in compliance with all building codes and other laws.”
The panel also rejected Aulson’s argument that Stone breached her duty of care to lawful visitors at her residence. The panel included in their statements that the use of power tools with sharp and dangerous blades is considered to be an obvious danger. Furthermore, the fact that the saw was owned by Aulson purley made it his responsibility to not only bring it to the construction site, but to carefully operate it as well. The panel stated, “The homeowner did not direct how the employee used the saw, where the employee plugged in the saw, or the length or path of the extension cord used to power the saw. The employee alone determined to use the table saw on the ground rather than on a table. He chose to ‘freehand’ cut pine wood, using both hands on the wood and apparently nothing to restrain the saw itself…”
The Responsibility of the Individual
In the end, it comes down to it is not the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure that the workers are using their equipment safely and properly. Power tools are generally known to be dangerous and need to be used with caution or they could lead to severe injuries on yourself or others. On his own behalf, Aulson decided to not use the power saw properly and, in the end, suffered the consequences of his actions. Hopefully in the future he will think twice about trying to freehand his work.
Contact an Attorney