From a badly installed roof to an unevenly installed floor, it’s the term nobody wants to hear when dealing with their home: “faulty” or “defective workmanship.”
The definition is exactly what it sounds like: improperly completed work that leaves defects in your home or other construction projects. In serious cases, defective workmanship could lead to injuries to the inhabitants of the house, as well as mold contamination from water leaks, cracks in the structure, and other structural problems.
Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance
Contractors are required to have this type of liability insurance during construction to protect themselves against personal injury, advertising injury, and property damage claims by third parties. The policy provides financial protection when the company unintentionally causes accidental harm to an individual or their property.
Any kind of accident is usually termed an “occurrence” under the policy. This can, under some policies, cover something that was incorrectly built or installed. But this always depends on what’s in the policy language.
Subcontractors must also have CGL insurance since a general contractor’s policy normally excludes the work done by any subcontractor. In some cases, a general contractor’s CGL can cover the work of the subcontractor.
Cherrington v. Erie Ins. Prop. & Cas. Co
West Virginia used to consider “defective workmanship” as not being an occurrence because it didn’t fit the description of an “accident.” However, that has changed in the last ten years.
Previous rulings were unfavorable for CGL cases that involved defective workmanship. In 1999, in the decisive case of Erie Insurance Property and Casualty Co. v. Pioneer Home Improvement, Inc., the court ruled that if defective workmanship isn’t mentioned in the CGL policy, it isn’t covered. In a later case in 2001, the court affirmed that “poor workmanship” isn’t covered because it is neither an “accident” nor an “occurrence,” then reiterated the same findings in 2005, because CGL policies are intended to protect businesses from tort liability.
That changed in 2013 with Cherrington v. Erie Ins. Prop. & Cas. Co, in which the homeowner sued after discovering defective workmanship in a home built by general contractor Pinnacle Group, who utilized multiple subcontractors for much of the work. Although the original case was dismissed, the plaintiff appealed, and the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision, overruling a number of similar cases dating back to 1985.
The Supreme Court Of Appeals wrote, “does defective workmanship constitute an ‘occurrence’ under a policy of CGL insurance? We find that consistent with decisions rendered by a majority of our sister jurisdictions, it does.” This case altered a precedent of 14 years, and now defective workmanship is correctly categorized as an “occurrence.”
Later in 2015, the WV Supreme Court Of Appeals also found that in BPI, Inc. v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, the prior decision from Cherrington should be applied retroactively to all pending claims. This confirmed that faulty or defective workmanship that caused property damage or bodily injury could be considered an “occurrence” under CGL policies that were pending at the time and did not yet have a final decision.
Defective Workmanship Lawyer In Charleston, WV
What do you do if the home you’ve built or remodeled has critical problems that should not have happened if the builder had done their job correctly?
If you’ve discovered that your home has defective workmanship leading to property damage or has caused injuries to you and your family, you may need help getting the contractor to correct the problems. Should that become unsuccessful, you may need to seek compensation for the losses.
Work with a Charleston lawyer who has the experience and understanding to help with construction issues and defective workmanship cases. Contact Chad Love at The Love Law Firm today at (304) 344-5683 for a free consultation.