I've heard it said that there are Electrical Contractors around that are of the opinion that they are only responsible for the work that they do. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Once you start to work with any wiring within a building, you are responsible for the whole lot of it. All the joints in the walls, all of the dodgy stuff in the panel, sure, it might not be your fault it's there, but if it is and you were the last person there before the place caught fire, get good insurance, believe you me you'll need it. I tell Electricians here (mainly young one's) to make sure they check all of the important bits of the wiring when they first get into a place. To testify as a witness (as a Fire Officer) against a new guy starting out in the trade is bad enough. What makes it worse, is it can be easily prevented. For God sakes, use your head. You are liable for the whole installation once you open the panel dead front up, in some cases even less. Unless someone want's to tell me different. To lose your business like this is nothing short of a cop-out. I'm not a business owner, but I've seen a lot go to the wall over a simple thing like this. Lets just get smart, people, there's no need why this should be happening. I'd invite any comments anyone has to offer.
[This message has been edited by Trumpy (edited 07-06-2005).]
All I can say is that we are not responsibile for bringing the entire building up to code. Neither the electrician nor the inpectors can force the owner to pay for repairs unless it is a blatant safety or fire hazard ( I have tried ). You can end up in court for any reason at any time ( a girl named Sue ). From the cases that I have read about, some sort of negligence needs to be proved. One thing that I find strange about the system is there isn't a set time limit on liability. If you are negligent and someone is hurt 20 years later and it can be proved, You have had it ( got that one in a code class ). I don't think I like that last one in rule. I'd have to set up a dummy corporation and have someone follow me around and assume liability ( joking ). I hope we never have that here, things are screwed-up enough.
Re: Liability?#156774 07/06/0508:59 AM07/06/0508:59 AM
Here in MA the EC is only responsible for any part of the electrical system he works on. If your working on the batroom circuit you are only responsible for anything related to that circuit. It is liability limited to whatever you work on, no periferal liability. Though you may want to bring a dangerous situation to the attention of the homeowner.
Re: Liability?#156775 07/06/0509:26 AM07/06/0509:26 AM
Especially in older homes, I write on the contract or invoice that I recommend checking all wiring and that I am not responsible for any existing wiring or connections to existing wiring. If the wiring really should be replaced I will write that. Don't know if this covers me but it might help in court. I think this is a big problem. If you're unlicensed and uninsured you have no worries. The owner assumes responsibility since they hired someone without a license.
Re: Liability?#156776 07/06/0510:31 AM07/06/0510:31 AM
cvelecric, I can't find that ruling on unlicensed electricians in my state regarding liability. I'm sure that a contract could be written to furnish unskilled labor to a homeowner but most handymen don't do this. Our state code says that if you perform or offer to perform ( advertise, including business cards )any skilled trade without a license you are breaking the law. As far as liability goes I wouldn't want to be the unlicensed electrician that just wired a house that had an electrical fire. They could find themselves in criminal court as well as civil court. I would suggest that anyone thinking about doing unlicensed work consult an attorney. If he says it's OK, then have fun.
It's not worth the risk - doing work with no license/insurance. I just took out a million dollar liability policy for $ 400 a year. One small job covers the cost of a years insurance. I've worked too hard for what I have to lose it !
Trumpy, after reading this post again I would take it that your laws in New Zealand are much more strict than ours in th US. Our laws vary from county to county and even city to city. Most fires aren't taken that seriously unless someone is killed and there is some big news story. I have worked on fire damage jobs where there no investigation at all. They sometimes think it's strange that you want a copy of the Fire Marshal's report for your records. I try to keep record of everything I do and make notes and recommendations on any hazards that I find but it's hard to force owners here to make repairs. I do believe in your philosophy of covering yourself as best you can where ever you are. Most contractors here incorporate and keep very little in any corporate accounts, keep good insuance and hope for the best. I have the added protection of a rabbit's foot.