Another Good Reason to Have Worker’s Compensation Coverage-Death on the Job?

Here is a scenario I feel is critical in the scheme of helping board members understand the importance of having worker’s compensation insurance. Several years ago at a national law conference we were told about a case where a board member went out to change a light bulb in the common area, placed his ladder and a small puddle of water, and was electrocuted. His family sued the HOA. The HOA did not have any coverage for this. Since that time, I, and other colleagues of mine, have I strongly encouraged boards of directors to get Worker’s Compensation insurance, even just the minimum policy available, along with the rider or endorsement that covers directors. Here’s the newest scenario I have heard about:


One of the HOA board directors volunteered to provide the landscaping service of the common areas for a small amount of money. A few weeks ago, he collapsed while working in the lawn and subsequently died. The person had a pre-existing heart condition and didn’t tell the Board.


Can you imagine this happening? What if he ran over his own foot with the mower? What about being hit by a car and injured when on the way to the bank with checks from owners for assessments to deposit?  Or worse, being shot in a bank robbery? These are only a few possible scenarios where where paying compensation to a board member for doing work is a bad idea. (See other recent email on this topic where the can of worms was opened.)

Frankly, I am not sure it makes a difference whether the board member is being paid or not if they are hurt performing work for the association. I have not followed any case like this through where there was a pre-existing condition and that may be a factor. Consider that a director does not tell the board he or she has vertigo  and climbs up on the roof to check out a cracked tile and falls off. OOppppps. What happens then?

Open to colleagues comments on this. If you know a case, send it along. I will share.

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