In California, a person or entity that hires an independent contractor to do work on his or her property will generally not be liable for any injuries that happen to the contractor or the contractor’s employees while they are working on the job. However, a property owner may be liable when he or she retains control over the safety precautions taken on the property or when he or she affirmatively contributes to the creation of the dangerous condition. In Gonzalez v. Mathis
, Cal. S. Ct. Case No. S247677, the California Supreme Court considered whether a third exception exists when an independent contractor or the contractor’s employee is injured by an obvious hazard within the work area for which the contractor could not take any reasonable safety measures to avoid it.
Factual and procedural background
Luis Gonzalez was employed as a window washer during the 1990s for a company called Beverly Hills Window Washing. During that time, he regularly cleaned a skylight window for John R. Mathis. Later, Gonzalez started his own window washing business, advertising that his company specialized in cleaning windows and skylights in hard-to-reach areas. Mathis hired Gonzalez and his company to clean his skylight regularly beginning in 2007.