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California couple lucky to be alive after construction error

It's one of those things that your hear or read so often that almost every homeowner knows the rule by heart: "Call before you dig."

The idea is to remind homeowners not to start digging around on their property while doing a home-improvement project without having the gas company come out and mark the ground so that the underground gas lines are safe.

Since most homeowners are aware of the rule, you'd think a contractor would take the same precautions. However, a California couple barely escaped with their lives after a contractor they'd hired hit the gas line while working on the sewer -- blowing up their house.

The contractor realized he'd struck the gas line in time to call SoCalGas and get the gas stopped, but an employee had just arrived on the scene and gestured the homeowners to safety when the house seemed to lift off the very foundation before crashing back down.

The house was entirely covered in flames by the time firefighters were able to get there, and it took them over an hour and a half to put out the remaining fire.

Construction accidents like these are particularly negligent because the accident would have been entirely avoidable with the proper precautions. They're also a reminder to anyone considering hiring a contractor to make certain that the contractor is licensed and insured.

A contractor's license at least gives you the peace of mind knowing that he or she has passed an exam regarding proper building procedures and codes (which means something like this shouldn't happen). The insurance, however, is even more critical -- if a contractor doesn't carry insurance and someone who works for him or her gets hurt on your property, your insurance is the one that will have to pay -- even if the accident is the contractor's fault.

Similarly, damage done to your property and surrounding properties in events that are more cataclysmic, like a gas explosion, are also covered under contractors' insurance.

If you've been injured in a construction accident, whether you're an employee of the construction company or not, talk to your attorney about your right to compensation.

Source: Los Angeles Daily News, "Elderly Woodland Hills couple count blessings after gas explosion lifts home ‘like a balloon’," Wes Woods, June 22, 2017

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