Subcontracting is a necessary and vital part of the construction industry. Entire business models are built around a construction company’s ability to collect bids from smaller companies to conduct work on a given project.

Indeed, the involvement of multiple contractors and subcontractors is part of what makes construction cases so difficult to unravel. There is almost always someone else who could conceivably be negligent. Parties may share negligence, but if one party is able to conclusively prove they had no negligence at all then they will be free to consider the case resolved while the second party is forced to move forward with the case.

Plaintiff’s attorneys try to identify as many responsible parties as possible to the aim of creating bigger settlements. Understanding this important element of the law allows you to take the steps that can protect you from being held liable for the actions of another company.

In Tennessee, accepting a contract to build a home or business means accepting responsibility for the outcome. The property owner didn’t choose the subcontractor, you did.

In the 2011 case Fed. Ins. Co. v. Winters, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled as follows:

“The contract between the homeowner and roofing contractor for the installation of a new roof placed upon the contractor an implied duty to skillfully, carefully, and diligently install and repair homeowner’s roof in a workmanlike manner.” 

Justice Gary R. Wade also held that:

“In a matter of first impression, delegation of the responsibility to repair roof did not operate to release contractor from liability for damages to the roof caused by the acts of a subcontractor.”

It behooves the primary contractor to thoroughly research and vet any subcontractor. Do they have a reputation with other contractors? Do they have a history of causing damage or problems? What were the results of their most recent jobs? Who works for them and what level of professionalism do they display?

It is also important to make sure someone from your own company is on site to supervise the subcontractor’s work. A subcontractor is not fully in your control but you’re still the one hiring them to do a job, and you can use that to help keep incidents under control. If the subcontractor damages something during the course of work it would be wise to move in and correct the problem right away.

See also:

5 Defenses to a Breach of Contract Claim in Tennessee

Steps to Take When You’ve Discovered a Construction Defect

How Property Owners Can Limit Liability